History and tradition. Often NASCAR sells it out for a corporate buck, but the Southern 500 was a race to win long before they went round and round at Daytona, Talladega, or all those generic races on cookie cutter 1.5-mile tracks across the country. It was the race a driver wanted to win. That legacy continued in Darlington, South Carolina on Sunday night at the track too tough to tame, the famed Lady in Black.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Darlington Raceway this Labor Day weekend for the Bojangles’ Southern 500. This is the third straight year of Darlington’s throwback campaign and this edition will focus on the 1985-89 era. There are 40 drivers on the entry list and 32 will run retro paint schemes to honor the rich history of the sport.
Thirty-five different drivers have won at Pocono with Jeff Gordon leading the way with six wins. Of the active drivers, five have multiple wins at the track including Denny Hamlin (four), Jimmie Johnson (three), and Kurt Busch (three). Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. both have two wins.
A classic. That is what the Southern 500 is. Born in 1950, it predates NASCAR’s jewel events in Indianapolis, Bristol, Talladega, Charlotte, and Daytona. It is the Southern 500, the Labor Day classic at Darlington.
Michigan. A big track, a fast track. Sadly, not exactly a legacy event, like winning at Daytona or Bristol or Talladega or Indianapolis or Darlington or either road course. What it is, is a track where legends have celebrated since 1969. In fact, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Bill Elliott, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Richard Petty, Dale Jarrett, and Bobby Allison have combined for 46 victories there. That is a lot of suds for a lot of Hall of Famers.
Let me be clear. Any race format that artificially moves entries from behind to plop them up front is a dumb one. I do not care if it is NASCAR’s All-Star Race or one that allows me to charge ahead of the Kentucky Derby field while wearing sneakers and a propeller hat. Dumb is as dumb does.
After the re-start, Johnson moved down to the line, hugged it tight, and came up to Harvick’s rear quarter-panel. A bit of side drafting tugged Luthor...ahem...Harvick...back enough to set Johnson sailing right by and into the lead.
Judy Allison, wife of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, died Friday following complications from surgery, the Allison family announced. She was 74. The Allisons released a statement Friday night: "The Allison Family is sad to announce the passing of Judy A. Allison, age 74, after complications from surgery earlier today at Iredell Memorial Hospital in Statesville.