One of the main stories heading into Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway was all the awesome paint schemes.
And that was definitely worthy of being talked about as there were a lot of really cool throwback paint schemes.
Once the green flag dropped on the race, however, the conversation quickly changed to the race … and it was an action-packed one that saw Martin Truex Jr., driving the No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry that celebrated the sponsor’s 100th Anniversary, beat Kevin Harvick off pit road during the final pit stop under caution.
Truex led the final 16 laps to seize his second win of 2016 — the first time he’s had multiple wins in a season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He led a total of 28 laps.
He held off runner-up Harvick at the finish line by 0.606 seconds. Harvick, driving the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet SS that honored Cale Yarborough’s run with the same sponsor during the 1979 season, was the most dominant car that night, leading the field for a race-high 214 laps. If it weren’t for several pit road mishaps by his over-the-wall crew, Harvick would have probably left Darlington with his third win of the season.
Six other drivers led at least one lap during the race: Brad Keselowski (47 laps), Kyle Larson (45), Denny Hamlin (13), Matt Kenseth (10), Ryan Newman (nine) and Kyle Busch (one).
None of the three In This Corner pickers had Truex on their team this past weekend, but Celebrity Guest Picker Cale Yarborough had Harvick. Unfortunately, his other two drivers didn’t fare too well.
Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart finished 33rd and 35th, respectively. Johnson was issued a pass-thru penalty and had to go to the back of the field on Lap 104 after getting an unapproved body modification. Then on Lap 215, his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, sporting a paint scheme that paid tribute to both David Pearson and Dale Earnhardt, was involved in a one-car accident of the frontstretch. He was able to return to the race and finished 39 laps down.
Stewart overheated on Lap 317, bringing out the eight caution flag of the race. He was driving the No. 14 Coca-Cola Chevrolet SS that honored Bobby Allison’s paint scheme from the early 1970s.
Unfortunately for Yarborough, his team’s combined finishing position was 70, putting him in third place.
In This Corner regular John Farrell pulled out his league-leading 12th win of the season to take a five-point lead over the celebrity guests. The other In This Corner regular Alex Pohlman is one point further back with six points.
John’s three drivers included Hamlin, Kenseth and Busch, all three of whom led at least one lap and finished in the top 11. Hamlin finished fourth, Kenseth sixth and Busch 11th. The trio of drivers gave him an impressive 21 points.
Alex finished second in this week’s In This Corner challenge with 63 points. She had Ryan Blaney, Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle as her picks for Darlington. They finished 13th, 14th and 36th, respectively.
Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway goes under the green flag at 7:30 p.m. ET. It can be seen on NBCSN and heard on MRN/SiriusXM.
If you’re reading “In This Corner” for the first time, we’ll explain how it works. The 2016 season marks the second year our “expert” prognosticators, Alex and John, will choose who they they think will win the upcoming race. (They’re experts only in their heads.)
Each week last season, Alex and John picked one driver they thought would win that weekend’s race. Alex based her picks on guts, while John made his picks relying on stats. It was an epic showdown of guts vs. stats. The weekly winner was determined by who chose the driver who finished better in the race.
For every weekly win, they received a point. In the end, Alex beat John 14-10. (The competition began with the May Dover race.)
This year, In This Corner is similar, but with some new twists added to make it more challenging and entertaining. Joining Alex and John each week will be a different guest prognosticator. In addition, instead of selecting one driver, each oracle will pick the three they think have the best shot at ending up in Victory Lane.
Whoever selects the three drivers with the lowest combined finishing position will receive the point for that weekend. For example, if Alex picks the race winner and the 20th- and 30th-place finishers, but John picks the 10th-, 15th- and 20th-place winners, John would receive the point (depending on who the celebrity guest picker selects) because his drivers’ accumulated finishing position total (45) is lower that Alex’s (51).
The celebrity guest forecaster can choose whichever three drivers he or she wants regardless of who Alex or John select. However, Alex and John can only have one pick in common.
We will keep a running tally between all three. At the end of the season, the prognosticator with the most points will be crowned the victor.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bud Moore is our celebrity guest picker this weekend. He was kind enough to provide us his three picks for Richmond’s Federated Auto Parts 400.
Moore, a native of Spartanburg, S.C., was a decorated World War II hero prior to becoming a successful NASCAR Sprint Cup owner receiving five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars for valor. As a car owner, Bud Moore Engineering entered the record books with 63 wins and compiled 298 top-five and 463 top-10 finishes. These days he enjoys spending time on his cattle farm.
1. Kevin Harvick: It is time for him to win another race.
2. Brad Keselowski: Both Brad and Joey continue to run great finish up front. Plus they drive Fords.
3. Joey Logano: See above comment.
1. Jeff Gordon: Since Dale Jr. is out for the season, seeing Jeff win again would be awesome.
2. Chase Elliott: On the heels of two great finishes, Chase is knocking on the door of his first win and he is no stranger to winning at Richmond.
3. Kyle Busch: He’s Kyle Busch and he seems to always be there at the end.
1. Denny Hamlin: Denny has more wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series than any other Virginia native. He’s earned eight of his wins in his home state, two of them at Richmond.
2. Jimmie Johnson: With the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup rapidly approaching I expect Jimmie to start kicking it up a notch, starting at Richmond where he already has three wins.
3. Matt Kenseth: I’ll be honest. I was torn on who to pick here and I didn’t want to duplicate any of Bud or Alex’s picks, so I went with Matt who once had a driver rating of 149.7 in a race. He also has two wins here.
GUESTS — 7; ALEX — 6; JOHN — 12