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The 2015 Bojangles' Southern 500, the 66th running of the event, was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held on September 6, 2015, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. Contested over 367 laps on the 1.366 mile (2.198 km) egg-shaped speedway, it was the 25th race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Carl Edwards won the race, the 25th of his career. Brad Keselowski finished second. Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.

2015 Bojangles' Southern 500
Race details[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]
Race 25 of 36 in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Official logo for the race
Official logo for the race
Date September 6, 2015 (2015-09-06)
Location Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
1.366 mi (2.198 km)
Distance 367 laps, 501.322 mi (806.666 km)
Weather Mostly sunny with a temperature of 76 °F (24 °C); wind out of the northeast at 5 mph (8.0 km/h)
Average speed 111.993 mph (180.235 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Team Penske
Time 27.492
Most laps led
Driver Brad Keselowski Team Penske
Laps 196
Winner
No. 19 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing
Television in the United States
Network NBC
Announcers Rick Allen, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte
Nielsen Ratings 3.4/7 (overnight)[11]
3.7/8 (final)[12]
5.9 million viewers[12]
Radio in the United States
Radio MRN
Booth Announcers Joe Moore, Jeff Striegle and Rusty Wallace
Turn Announcers Dave Moody (1 & 2) and Mike Bagley (3 & 4)

Keselowski won the pole for the race. He led a race high of 196 laps on his way to a runner–up finish. The race had 24 lead changes among 11 different drivers, as well as 18 caution flag periods for 89 laps.

This was the 25th career victory for Carl Edwards, second of the season, first at Darlington Raceway and fifth at the track for Joe Gibbs Racing. The win moved Edwards up to 12th in the drivers points standings 235 behind Kevin Harvick. Despite being the winning manufacturer, Toyota left Darlington trailing Chevrolet by 63–points in the manufacturer standings.

The Bojangles' Southern 500 was carried by NBC Sports on the broadcast NBC network for the American television audience. The radio broadcast for the race was carried by the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.

Contents

ReportEdit

BackgroundEdit

 
Layout of Darlington Raceway, the track where the race was held

Darlington Raceway, nicknamed by many NASCAR fans and drivers as "The Lady in Black" or "The Track Too Tough to Tame" and advertised as a "NASCAR tradition", is a race track built for NASCAR racing located near Darlington, South Carolina. It is of a unique, somewhat egg-shaped design, an oval with the ends of very different configurations, a condition which supposedly arose from the proximity of one end of the track to a minnow pond the owner refused to relocate. This situation makes it very challenging for the crews to set up their cars' handling in a way that will be effective at both ends.

Kevin Harvick entered Darlington with a 43–point lead over Joey Logano. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. entered 89 back. Brad Keselowski entered 115 back. Jimmie Johnson entered 116 back.

Return to Labor DayEdit

"Auto Club Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway did their best to maintain the tradition of Sprint Cup Series racing on the final holiday weekend of the summer, but both came up short. Thankfully, the sanctioning body shuffled a handful of races on this year's schedule to put the Bojangles' Southern 500 back where it began in 1950."source=Motor Racing Network lead writer and co-host of The Morning Drive on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Pete Pistone giving his thoughts on the return of the Bojangles' Southern 500 to Labor Day weekend[13]

From 1950 to 2003, the Bojangles' Southern 500 was run on Labor Day weekend in late-August or early-September. For the 2004 season, the race (then known as the Mountain Dew Southern 500) was moved to the penultimate race of the season while a second race at Auto Club Speedway was added into the Labor Day spot. This lasted for five seasons before it moved to October. Atlanta Motor Speedway moved to the Labor Day spot and remained there from 2009 to 2014. During that time, the Southern 500 moved up to Mother's Day weekend in May 2005 and remained there for eight years. It then moved to mid-April for 2014. In August of that year, NASCAR announced that the Southern 500 would return to Labor Day weekend for the first time in 12 years.[14]

Members of the NASCAR media gave their thoughts on the return to Labor Day weekend. Pete Pistone of the Motor Racing Network said that Labor Day weekend in Auto Club "never felt right," Labor Day weekend in Atlanta "was better but still not quite there," that Darlington Raceway "fits like a glove" and is "back to where you belong, Bojangles' Southern 500. Don't ever go away again."[13]

In ESPN.com's weekly Turn 4 series, NASCAR analysts and writers Ricky Craven, Ryan McGhee, John Oreovicz, and Bob Pockrass answered the week's question "Why did it take so long for NASCAR to move the Labor Day race back to Darlington[.]"[15] Craven said that he "wasn't sure" but "[f]ew things are more powerful in sports than the power of tradition. This race is synonymous with Labor Day weekend. Moving it to a spring race felt like inviting Santa Claus to Halloween."[15] McGhee said that going back meant "admitting a mistake. NASCAR doesn't like that. Otherwise, we would have gone back to the 2014 aero package six months ago."[15] Oreovicz said it most likely was because NASCAR "doesn't do anything until [they decide] it's a good idea, no matter how popular the idea might be to the masses. But this is another sign that NASCAR is actually listening to its constituents a bit more these days."[15] Pockrass said that "[s]tubbornness and refusal to admit failure" was his guess and that it was "one of NASCAR's most head-scratching moves in trying to build the sport. NASCAR should have never messed with this tradition in the first place. NASCAR didn't belong in California on Labor Day weekend. It didn't belong in Atlanta. It belongs in Darlington, South Carolina. And it's back. Finally."[15]

Jordan Bianchi of SB Nation said that there are traditions that are "just too important. They are the institutions that shouldn't be tampered with under almost any circumstance, worthy of being shared from one generation to the next."[16] He also added that by returning "Darlington to Labor Day weekend, NASCAR has righted a wrong; even if it was a tradition that should have never been abandoned in the first place."[16]

Mike Hembree of USA Today called the initial decision of moving the race from Labor Day weekend "[s]ports blasphemy of the highest order" and its return to Labor Day weekend as being "back where, as people in this farming section of South Carolina will tell you, God meant it to be."[17]

Change to the trackEdit

Since its most recent Sprint Cup Series race in April 2014, Darlington Raceway added 4,600 ft (1,400 m) of additional SAFER barrier to both the front and backstretch walls.[18] This made Darlington the second track on the Sprint Cup schedule, after Bristol, to line the entire circumference of the outside retaining wall with the energy-absorbing barrier.[18]

For this race, NASCAR redesigned the restart zone so that it would be more visible and eliminate driver complaints about "jumped restarts."[19]

Aero packageEdit

For this race, teams used the low-downforce aero package that was used at Kentucky Speedway.[20] This package included a 3 in (7.6 cm) spoiler (reduced from 6 in (15 cm)), a 25 in (64 cm) radiator pan (reduced from 38 in (97 cm)) and a quarter inch (.64 cm) leading edge splitter.[20]

New tire compoundEdit

For this weekend's race, Goodyear brought a softer tire compound to go with the low-downforce package.[21] These changes included different construction and mold shapes for the left-side tires and the right-side tires would provide more grip.[21]

Throwback paint schemesEdit

In celebration of the event, 32 of the 46 teams entered for this weekend's race unveiled throwback and special paint schemes as part of the return of the Bojangles' Southern 500 to Labor Day weekend.[22] Chip Wile, track president of Darlington Raceway and brainchild of the throwback idea, had initially thought maybe eight or 10 teams could be persuaded to take part in this and get more teams to do it next season.[23] He told Jeff Gluck of USA Today that he thought "this is bigger than what people imagined what it would be in [y]ear [one]" and that he thought "the sport needed this. NASCAR has such a rich history, and we need to celebrate that."[23]

Entry listEdit

The entry list for the 66th annual Bojangles' Southern 500 was released on Sunday, August 28 at 3:12 p.m. Eastern time. Forty-six drivers were entered for the race. All but the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet were entered for the previous race at Bristol. Jeb Burton and J. J. Yeley swapped rides at BK Racing with Burton driving the No. 23 Toyota and Yeley driving the No. 26 Toyota.[24] Travis Kvapil drove the No. 30 Chevrolet for The Motorsports Group.[25] Timmy Hill drove the No. 62 Chevrolet for Premium Motorsports. T. J. Bell drove the No. 98 Ford for Premium Motorsports.

No. Driver Team Manufacturer Throwback/Sponsor Starts Best Finish
1 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet McDonald's / Cessna 12 2nd
2 Brad Keselowski (PC3) Team Penske Ford Miller High Life Five-time Darlington winner Bobby Allison's Miller High Life car[26] 6 3rd
3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet American Ethanol Team owner and grandfather Richard Childress' paint scheme during his driving years[26] 1 11th
4 Kevin Harvick (PC1) Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet Budweiser cans in the 1930s[26] 14 1st
5 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet HendrickRideAlong.com Geoff Bodine's 1984 scheme, when HMS was known as All-Star Racing[26] 11 3rd
6 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford AdvoCare Mark Martin's 1998 car[26] 0
7 Alex Bowman Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet Owner Tommy Baldwin Jr.'s father Tom Baldwin's Modified car[26] 1 29th
9 Sam Hornish, Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Winn-Dixie Mark Martin's Winn-Dixie Busch Series car[26] 3 30th
10 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet GoDaddy A black-themed car to symbolize racing at "The Lady in Black"[26] 3 22nd
11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Sport Clips Cale Yarborough's car in the 1970s[26] 9 1st
13 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet Geico 11 11th
14 Tony Stewart (PC4) Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Bass Pro Shops' first boat motor and trailer set, the Bass Tracker[27] 16 3rd
15 Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 5-hour Energy / Peak Buddy Baker tribute scheme[26] 9 9th
16 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford Ortho Pharmaceutical's first delivery vehicles[26] 12 1st
17 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford Cargill David Pearson's scheme[26] 2 18th
18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota M&M's Crispy 10 1st
19 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Arris 11 2nd
20 Matt Kenseth (PC6) Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Dollar General 16 1st
21 Ryan Blaney (i) Wood Brothers Racing Ford Snap-on A photo compilation of the team's history since 1950[26] 0
22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford Shell / Pennzoil Mario Andretti's 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans factory Porsche 962C car[26] 6 2nd
23 Jeb Burton (R) BK Racing Toyota Estes Father Ward Burton's 2001 Southern 500-winning car[26] 0
24 Jeff Gordon (PC7) Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 3M 22 1st
25 Chase Elliott (i) Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet NAPA Auto Parts Father Bill Elliott's 1985 Winston Million-winning car[26] 0
26 J. J. Yeley (i) BK Racing Toyota Sam Bass-designed retro Beds for Kids scheme[26] 7 18th
27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Moen / Menards Inspired by Menards' marketing in the 1970s[26] 8 13th
30 Travis Kvapil (i) The Motorsports Group Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 8 8th
31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Caterpillar Inc.'s heavy equipment in the 1970s[26] 13 2nd
32 Josh Wise Go FAS Racing Ford Ricky Craven's Tide-sponsored car from 2003[26] 3 21st
33 Mike Bliss (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet Harry Gant-inspired car[26] 4 20th
34 Brett Moffitt (R) Front Row Motorsports Ford Dockside 0
35 Cole Whitt Front Row Motorsports Ford Speed Stick 2 38th
38 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford Love's Travel Stops 8 20th
40 Landon Cassill (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet Snap Fitness / Proud to be an American Sterling Marlin's U.S. flag scheme from 2001[26] 4 25th
41 Kurt Busch (PC5) Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet Haas CNC Racing's original car, then driven by Jack Sprague[26] 14 3rd
42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Kyle Petty's 1991–1994 and Days of Thunder protagonist Cole Trickle's Mello Yello paint schemes[26] 1 8th
43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Richard Petty's STP car from 1972[26] 3 19th
46 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet Pilot Corporation's logo from the 1970s[26] 1 42nd
47 A. J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet Kroger / House-Autry 7 15th
48 Jimmie Johnson (PC2) Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Lowe's 1940s logo[26] 13 1st
51 Justin Allgaier HScott Motorsports Chevrolet Brandt A. J. Foyt-inspired scheme[26] 1 23rd
55 David Ragan Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota Aaron's Father Ken Ragan's 1987 car[26] 8 5th
62 Timmy Hill (i) Premium Motorsports Chevrolet None 7 11th
78 Martin Truex, Jr. Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet Furniture Row A teal scheme to promote National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month[26] 9 5th
83 Matt DiBenedetto (R) BK Racing Toyota Cosmo Motors 0
88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Valvoline Cale Yarborough-inspired car[26] 15 2nd
98 T. J. Bell Premium Motorsports Ford None 1 33rd
Official initial entry list
Official final entry list
Key Meaning
(R) Rookie
(i) Ineligible for points
(PC#) Past champions provisional

PracticeEdit

First practiceEdit

Greg Biffle was the fastest in the first practice with a time of 27.909 and a speed of 176.201 mph (283.568 km/h).[28] This practice session was the first for any car to use a digital dashboard that all cars will be required to use in 2016.[29]

Pos No. Driver Team Manufacturer Time Speed
1 16 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 27.909 176.201
2 41 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 27.966 175.842
3 14 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 27.982 175.710
Official first practice results

Final practiceEdit

Brad Keselowski was the fastest in the final practice session with a time of 27.960 and a speed of 175.880 mph (283.051 km/h).[30] Kyle Busch was forced to his backup car after wrecking his primary an hour into the session.[31]

Pos No. Driver Team Manufacturer Time Speed
1 2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 27.960 175.880
2 16 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 27.984 175.729
3 41 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 27.985 175.723
Official final practice results

QualifyingEdit

 
Brad Keselowski, seen here at the 2015 Daytona 500, won the pole for the race.

Brad Keselowski won the pole with a time of 27.492 and a speed of 178.874 mph (287.870 km/h).[32] "I’ve always thought of Darlington as being one of the unique tracks in NASCAR. You look at Bristol, Daytona and Charlotte and Darlington is in the top five of our sport and what it means," Keselowski said. It’s a great accomplishment to me personally."[32] "It’s quite exciting with the way the format is set up with three runs to go for the pole. Each run out you lose so much grip in the tires, it’s a challenge to try to find the right balance and it turns into fun," Kurt Busch said. Our first run out the car was almost too fast. The car almost drove too good."[32] "We were fairly good in the first two rounds. I felt like I could have pushed harder in those two rounds to go faster; and that last round, we just kind of missed the balance on our Chevrolet," Kevin Harvick said. I feel a lot better about it in race trim than I did in qualifying trim. We try to concentrate on that the most because there is so much falloff."[32]

Qualifying resultsEdit

Pos No. Driver Team Manufacturer R1 R2 R3
1 2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 27.482 27.442 27.492
2 41 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 27.396 27.590 27.691
3 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 27.526 27.540 27.718
4 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 27.417 27.541 27.733
5 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 27.435 27.607 27.753
6 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 27.591 27.613 27.798
7 78 Martin Truex, Jr. Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet 27.600 27.681 27.807
8 17 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 27.413 27.670 27.835
9 21 Ryan Blaney (i) Wood Brothers Racing Ford 27.654 27.683 27.910
10 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 27.464 27.676 27.929
11 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 27.592 27.654 27.947
12 27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 27.632 27.662 28.053
13 19 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 27.517 27.703
14 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 27.518 27.749
15 5 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 27.458 27.751
16 42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 27.550 27.762
17 14 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 27.607 27.776
18 6 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 27.647 27.781
19 48 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 27.721 27.805
20 1 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 27.539 27.851
21 55 David Ragan Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 27.485 27.899
22 25 Chase Elliott (i) Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 27.650 27.922
23 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 27.578 27.950
24 16 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 27.630 32.037
25 83 Matt DiBenedetto (R) BK Racing Toyota 27.730
26 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 27.783
27 51 Justin Allgaier HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 27.783
28 15 Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 27.828
29 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 27.833
30 10 Danica Patrick[N 1] Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 27.844
31 40 Landon Cassill (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet 27.847
32 13 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet 27.860
33 9 Sam Hornish, Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 27.882
34 47 A. J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 27.918
35 7 Alex Bowman Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 27.937
36 26 J. J. Yeley (i) BK Racing Toyota 27.944
37 35 Cole Whitt Front Row Motorsports Ford 28.075
38 38 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 28.152
39 46 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 28.161
40 34 David Ragan (R) Front Row Motorsports Ford 28.243
41 23 Jeb Burton (R) BK Racing Toyota 28.267
42 33 Mike Bliss (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet 28.433
43 98 T. J. Bell Premium Motorsports Ford 28.563
Failed to qualify
44 32 Jeffrey Earnhardt Go FAS Racing Ford 28.104
45 62 Timmy Hill (i) Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 28.199
46 30 Travis Kvapil (i) The Motorsports Group Chevrolet 28.213
Official qualifying results

RaceEdit

First halfEdit

StartEdit

Under overcast South Carolina evening skies, Brad Keselowski led the field to the green flag at 7:24 p.m. and led the first lap. He pulled to a one-second lead over Kevin Harvick after five laps. The first caution of the race flew on lap 7 for a three-car spin on the backstretch.[33] This began when Brett Moffitt hit the wall while exiting turn 2.[33] In an accordion fashion, Cole Whitt slammed into the rear of his car and Chase Elliott slammed into the rear of his car, sending both of them in a spin.[33]

The race restarted on lap 14. Unlike last year's race, the bottom line appeared to be the preferred restart lane. Unlike the initial start, Keselowski didn't simply pull away as Kurt Busch reeled him in. Suddenly, Matt Kenseth, running third, got real sideways and slapped the wall exiting turn 2. This gave him an unscheduled stop three laps later. Eventually, Keselowski began to pull away from Busch. The second caution flew on lap 44 when Ryan Newman got loose in turn 3, saved it, got loose again, and spun out in turn 4.[34]

The race restarted on lap 51. Debris on the frontstretch brought out the third caution on lap 61. Kasey Kahne opted to make just a two-tire pit stop and exited with the lead. Carl Edwards opted not to pit and assumed that position, putting Kahne in second.[34]

The race restarted on lap 66. That same lap, Edwards was passed by Kahne for the lead. Three laps later, Denny Hamlin, on four new tires, passed Kahne for the lead. The fourth caution flew on lap 108 when Michael Annett got loose in turn 2 and spun down the backstretch.[34]

Second quarterEdit

The race restarted on lap 115. Keselowski drove around the outside of Hamlin in turn 2 to take the lead on lap 119. The fifth caution flew on lap 122 when Mike Bliss cut down his right-front tire on the backstretch and slammed the wall in turn 3. Kyle Busch opted not to pit and assumed the lead.[34]

The race restarted on lap 125. The sixth caution flew on that same lap when J. J. Yeley apparently made contact with Annett in turn 3 and destroyed the protective foam on the driver's side of his car.[34]

The race restarted on lap 133. The seventh caution of the race flew on lap 134 when Jimmie Johnson drifted down into the path of Joey Logano and spun out exiting turn 4.[34]

The race restarted on lap 139. Harvick used the outside to take the lead the next lap, but gave it back to Keselowski on the next lap.[35] The eighth caution of the race flew on lap 165 when Trevor Bayne made heavy contact with Danica Patrick. Trying to get down on pit road, his tires blew and he spun out.[34]

The race restarted on lap 170. Debris on the backstretch brought out the ninth caution of the race on lap 189.[36] This came from when Patrick got loose and slammed the wall exiting turn 4.[36] "I didn’t feel out of control out there," Patrick said. "I felt like I was in a pretty decent rhythm. It snapped pretty hard in (Turn) 4. So, I don’t know, I mean they said it looked like it snapped pretty hard. It felt like that it was definitely more sudden and something that I wasn’t expecting. It is definitely possible that it just got loose. For a few laps before that I felt like I could pull the yaw pretty easily through (Turns) 3 and 4. The one thing about Darlington is you definitely run a lot of lines here. I was running – I felt better lower than higher, so at times I was a lane or two below the dotted line. Debris is just something that happens here because we are using so much track, but I’m not 100 percent sure could have just got loose. But, it could have been a cut tire too, just not sure. It’s a bummer."[36] Tony Stewart was tagged for speeding on pit road and restarted the race from the rear of the field.[34]

Second halfEdit

HalfwayEdit

The race restarted on lap 195. The 10th caution of the race flew on lap 198 when Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. got loose, slid down the track, and slammed the inside wall in turn 4. There, T. J. Bell and Alex Bowman made contact and both slammed the wall.[34]

The race restarted on lap 203. Kurt Busch drove past Keselowski exiting turn 2 to take the lead. The 11th caution of the race flew on lap 208 when Kyle Busch apparently made contact with Greg Biffle sending both spinning. Kyle Larson opted not to pit and assumed the lead.[34]

The race restarted on lap 212. Larson was passed by Stewart for the lead. Later, Hamlin drove under Stewart to retake that position on lap 223. The 12th caution of the race flew on lap 229 when Elliott blew his right-front tire out and hit the outside wall. Hamlin swapped the lead with Harvick on pit road as the former pitted before the start/finish line, and the latter left pit road with the lead.[34]

The race restarted on lap 238. The 13th caution of the race flew on lap 246 when Trevor Bayne cut down his right-rear tire and spun in turn 4. Logano opted not to pit and assumed the lead.[34]

The race restarted on lap 252. The 14th caution of the race flew on lap 265 when David Ragan got loose, slid down the track, and hit the inside wall on the frontstretch. Kyle Busch opted not to pit and assumed the lead.[34]

The race restarted on lap 270. Busch botched the restart and Joey Logano retook the lead. The 15th caution of the race flew on lap 279 when Ragan got hooked into the outside wall by Paul Menard, turned down the track, and slammed the inside wall.[34]

Fourth quarterEdit

 
Carl Edwards, seen here at the 2015 Daytona 500, scored his 25th career victory in the Bojangles' Southern 500.

The race restarted on lap 283. Debris in turn 1 brought out the 16th caution of the race on lap 300. Keselowski beat Harvick off pit road to retake the lead.[34]

The race restarted on lap 306. The 17th caution of the race flew with 60 laps to go when Martin Truex, Jr. tapped the rear of Kurt Busch and sent him spinning.[34]

The race restarted with 55 laps to go. With 50 to go, Harvick began putting pressure on race leader Keselowski. He had the momentum to pull off the pass exiting turn 2 with 45 to go, but he bobbled on the exit and Keselowski remained in the lead. Edwards pulled to Harvick and began pressuring him for second. Edwards edged Keselowski at the line with 22 laps to go and Brad took back the lead the next lap. The 18th caution of the race, a new track record, came out with 13 laps to go when Jeb Burton made contact with Johnson and spun out. This was a new world record for the most cautions in the Southern 500. Edwards beat Keselowski off pit road to retake the lead.[34]

The race restarted with eight laps to go. Edwards drove off to score his 25th career victory at Darlington Raceway.[37]

Post-raceEdit

Driver commentsEdit

"This is the style of racing that I love," Edwards said. "If there's any chance we can do it in the Chase, I hope, I hope we can do it."[38]

"Just one spot short at the end," Keselowski said. "We're right there. We've just got to find one more level to win these races and win this championship."[39]

"We had a great Budweiser-Jimmy John's Chevrolet. I'm really happy about that part. I'm really disappointed with how pit road went tonight," Kevin Harvick said after a fifth-place finish. "All in all the car performed well and we were in the race, we just got behind with eight laps to go. "We ran well. We just didn't perform on pit road tonight."[40]

After finishing seventh, Kyle Busch locked himself into the Chase.[41] "We weren’t looking so good after Michigan,’’ Busch said of the 43rd-place finish in the June race. "It was really doom and gloom. I was bumming. I just wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t sure what was going on. It took a little bit of that time to get the rust knocked off, I guess. It’s probably the longest I’ve been out of the race car in my life. That was a tough lick.’’[41]

"We lost the handling late in the race and went backwards," said Martin Truex, Jr. after finishing ninth. "We were a top-five car all night and to come away ninth is disappointing. We just didn't have the grip at the end to run closer to the front. I would feel better about the team record had we finished in the top-five."[42]

Media commentsEdit

"The second race with a lower downforce aerodynamic package didn’t seem to have the overall dramatic results like what was seen at Kentucky in July. Certainly a huge part of the reason is the unique layout of Darlington, which is nowhere near as wide as Kentucky or has a racing surface as worn out. But there were some interesting battles for position during the 500-mile grind, particularly in the closing laps. However, the drivers were very optimistic heading into the race and gave it glowing reviews after the race. Overall it appears this is the direction NASCAR will head in creating 2016 rules packages. Goodyear’s tire seemed to perfectly fit the package and drivers needed to manage their rubber all race long to combat fall off. The sanctioning body will sift through the data acquired from Sunday’s race and solicit input from the garage area before making any final decisions.’’

Motor Racing Network lead writer and co-host of The Morning Drive on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Pete Pistone giving his thoughts on the Bojangles' Southern 500.[43]

Members of the NASCAR media gave their opinions of the second race with the low-downforce aero package. Pete Pistone, lead writer for the Motor Racing Network and co-host of The Morning Drive on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio, said that this race "didn’t seem to have the overall dramatic results like what was seen at Kentucky in July," but that "there were some interesting battles for position during the 500-mile grind, particularly in the closing laps" and that "the drivers were very optimistic heading into the race and gave it glowing reviews after the race."[43]

Jeff Gluck of USA Today said that while "the Southern 500 was a grueling marathon and a caution fest that lasted more than four and a half hours..., it also was a very entertaining race that featured tight battles for the lead and the kind of tire falloff that helped NASCAR rise to popularity in the first place."[44] He also said that it was "exactly what the sport needed – confirmation the package is indeed the right direction to go after Kentucky already was a major success."[44]

Jim Utter of Motorsport.com, factoring in the opinions of drivers and NASCAR on the package, said that if there was "such a thing as a consensus in NASCAR, the low-downforce aerodynamics package debuted at Kentucky earlier this season may be as close as the sport gets to it."[45]

John Oreovicz of ESPN.com said "the star of the show was NASCAR's low drag aero package" and that "[i]f the high-drag package run at Indianapolis and Michigan can almost unquestionably be called a failure, the low-drag package has proven to provide almost everything the drivers have asked for.[46]

Larry McReynolds of Fox Sports said he doesn't "know how in the world anybody can complain about what we saw at Darlington on Sunday night" and that while he understands "the race was long...the racing was good. I know there will be some debate about a four-and-a-half-hour race. I am normally the one that's beating the drum that we don't need to be doing that as our society has outgrown that. This was a very special event, and I don't think it needs to change."[47]

Darrell Waltrip of Fox Sports said he thought "Sunday was a great example of why there is so much passion within our sport about Darlington" and that he thought "the aero package seems to be the way to go. It worked at Kentucky and it seemed to work Sunday night. These cars have a lot of downforce built into the body anyway, so we don't need that big huge spoiler on the back of the car."[48]

Nate Ryan of NBC Sports said that it would "be better if NASCAR bravely calls an audible for the Chase and institutes the low-downforce package that met with smashingly positive reviews at Kentucky Speedway and Darlington Raceway. The mantra from NASCAR over the past six years has been that fan satisfaction should supersede everything in determining its direction. Whether installing double-file restarts or making three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish, there often has been little fair to competitors about the recent initiatives aimed at increasing the entertainment value. The same concept holds true for low downforce."[49]

Race resultsEdit

Pos Grid No. Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Points
1 13 19 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 367 47
2 1 2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 367 44
3 6 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 367 42
4 4 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 367 41
5 3 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 367 40
6 2 41 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 367 39
7 10 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 367 38
8 26 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 36
9 7 78 Martin Truex, Jr. Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet 367 35
10 16 42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 367 35
11 11 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 367 33
12 15 5 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 33
13 23 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 367 31
14 20 1 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 367 30
15 17 14 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 367 30
16 5 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 28
17 28 15 Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 367 27
18 24 16 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 367 26
19 19 48 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 25
20 31 40 Landon Cassill (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet 367 0
21 14 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 367 23
22 29 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 367 22
23 34 47 A. J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 367 21
24 35 7 Alex Bowman Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 367 20
25 25 83 Matt DiBenedetto (R) BK Racing Toyota 367 19
26 12 27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 367 18
27 38 38 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 367 17
28 33 9 Sam Hornish, Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 367 16
29 32 13 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet 366 15
30 9 21 Ryan Blaney (i) Wood Brothers Racing Ford 366 0
31 41 23 Jeb Burton (R) BK Racing Toyota 364 13
32 42 33 Mike Bliss (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet 363 0
33 27 51 Justin Allgaier HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 354 11
34 36 26 J. J. Yeley (i) BK Racing Toyota 348 0
35 18 6 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 342 9
36 40 34 Brett Moffitt (R) Front Row Motorsports Ford 332 8
37 43 98 T. J. Bell Premium Motorsports Ford 325 7
38 8 17 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 313 6
39 39 46 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 300 5
40 21 55 David Ragan Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 275 4
41 22 25 Chase Elliott (i) Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 227 0
42 30 10 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 190 2
43 37 35 Cole Whitt Front Row Motorsports Ford 5 1
Official Bojangles' Southern 500 results

Race statisticsEdit

  • 24 lead changes among 11 different drivers
  • 18 cautions for 89 laps
  • Time of race: 4 hours, 28 minute, 35 seconds
  • Average speed: 111.993 mph (180.235 km/h)
  • Carl Edwards took home $285,225 in winnings
Lap Leaders
Laps Leader
1-62 Brad Keselowski
63-65 Carl Edwards
66-67 Kasey Kahne
68-109 Denny Hamlin
110 Kevin Harvick
111-117 Denny Hamlin
118-137 Brad Keselowski
138-139 Kevin Harvick
140-193 Brad Keselowski
194 Kurt Busch
195-202 Brad Keselowski
203-208 Kurt Busch
209-211 Kyle Larson
212-221 Tony Stewart
222-229 Denny Hamlin
230-247 Kevin Harvick
248-266 Joey Logano
267-269 Kyle Busch
270-279 Joey Logano
280-302 Kevin Harvick
303 David Gilliland
304-344 Brad Keselowski
345 Carl Edwards
346-356 Brad Keselowski
357-367 Carl Edwards
Total laps led
Leader Laps
Brad Keselowski 196
Denny Hamlin 57
Kevin Harvick 44
Joey Logano 29
Carl Edwards 15
Tony Stewart 10
Kurt Busch 7
Kyle Busch 3
Kyle Larson 3
Kasey Kahne 2
David Gilliland 1

Race awardsEdit

MediaEdit

TelevisionEdit

NBC Sports covered the race on the television side. Rick Allen, two–time Darlington winner Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte had the call in the booth for the race. As part of the throwback weekend, Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett also called a portion of the race. Dave Burns, Mike Massaro, Marty Snider and Kelli Stavast handled pit road on the television side.

NBC
Booth announcers Pit reporters
Lap-by-lap: Rick Allen and Ken Squier
Color-commentator: Jeff Burton and Ned Jarrett
Color-commentator: Steve Letarte and Dale Jarrett
  • Rick Allen, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte called the action from lap 1 to lap 45 then handed over the duties to Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett who called the action from lap 50 to lap 125. Allen, Burton, and Letarte would then call the remainder of the event.
Dave Burns
Mike Massaro
Marty Snider
Kelli Stavast

RadioEdit

MRN had the radio call for the race, which was simulcast on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio. Joe Moore, Jeff Striegle and Rusty Wallace called the race from the booth when the field was racing down the front stretch. Dave Moody called the race from a billboard outside of turn 2 when the field was racing through turns 1 and 2. Mike Bagley called the race from atop the Darlington Raceway Club outside of turn 3 when the field was racing through turns 3 and 4. Alex Hayden, Winston Kelley and Steve Post worked pit road on the radio side.

MRN
Booth announcers Turn announcers Pit reporters
Lead announcer: Joe Moore
Announcer: Jeff Striegle
Announcer: Rusty Wallace
Turns 1 & 2: Dave Moody[50]
Turns 3 & 4: Mike Bagley[51]
Alex Hayden
Winston Kelley
Steve Post

Standings after the raceEdit

NoteEdit

፤፤

  1. ^ Danica Patrick started from the rear of the field for switching to a backup car post-qualifying.

ReferencesEdit

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