After a weekend off (the last one until the offseason) the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are back at on Sunday at Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles’ Southern 500.
When we last checked in with Alex Gage and John Farrell it was the 12th week of the “In This Corner” challenge, and Gage had scored that week’s point to pull even with Farrell at 6-6.
Gage went with Jeff Gordon as her pick. The driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet brought back his popular rainbow paint scheme from the 1990s. But it didn’t carry over onto the track where he finished 20th.
Fortunately for Gage, Farrell’s pick – Matt Kenseth – exited the 500-lap race after Lap 110 due to engine problems. The driver of the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota finished second-to-last, in 42nd place.
Both Gage and Farrell are looking to once again go one up on the other … and hopefully build upon that lead in subsequent weeks. With 12 races in the books in this challenge (it began at the spring Dover race) neither prognosticator have been able to break away from the other and lead by anything other one point.
This tight competition makes it interesting, doesn’t it? Well, let’s see if this weekend either Gage or Farrell can start that streak. One thing is for sure as we near the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the season’s final 10 races, this race to championship between Gage and Farrell is far from being over. The In This Corner champion, like the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, likely won’t be determined until the last lap at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Join Gage, Farrell and the rest of the NASCAR industry for Darlington’s throwback race as we begin the final stretch of 12 races at 7 p.m. EDT this Sunday on NBC.
Below is a quick reminder of who the two competitors are.
Alex, the daughter of the late Richmond Gage, was born into and grew up around the sport. Her dad, who worked with several legendary drivers from the 1980s and 1990s, often took Alex with him to the race track on weekends where she fell in love with the sport.
John wasn’t introduced to NASCAR until later in life when he started working for NASCAR in 2007. In seven years with NASCAR, he worked in the Publishing, Licensing and IMC departments. He quickly fell in love with the statistics side of the sport, as well as its colorful past, and even wrote a NASCAR-licensed book in 2012, The Official NASCAR Trivia Book. He is now the Marketing Manager for Lionel Racing.
Every week, Alex (using her gut instinct) and John (relying solely on stats) each select a driver they think will win. Of those two drivers, the one that wins or places higher will give whoever picked him/her a point. We will keep a running tally and will crown a champion at the end of the season.
Since John is a polite, Southern gentleman, he has agreed to let Alex pick every weekend. (What a sucker!)
After a victory following the race in Bristol two weeks ago, I am ready to get back at it and defeat John to regain the lead. The NASCAR is at the famed Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 throwback weekend. Many of the teams will be taking to the track in throwback schemes for the Labor Day event. For this reason, my pick this week will be making only his second NASCAR Sprint Cup start at the track. Kyle Larson made his first series appearance at Darlington last May and finished eighth. Because he is long overdue for his first win and will be running the famous No. 42 Mello Yello paint scheme made famous by Kyle Petty I believe he’ll be a top contender this weekend. See you next weekend as we roll into Richmond for the final race before the Chase begins.
Which driver has the most wins (7), top fives (19), top 10s (23), lead-lap finishes (24), laps led (1,744), most laps in top 15 (3,356), highest driver rating (112.7), best starting position (8.2), fastest green flag speed (160.593 mph) and fastest speed on restarts (158.245) among active drivers at Darlington Raceway? I’ll give you a hint, it’s only one driver. If you guessed Jeff Gordon, you would be absolutely 100% correct. And that ladies and gentlemen is why Gordon, who will be driving the No. 24 3M Chevrolet this weekend, is my pick to hit paydirt this weekend at the track “Too Tough to Tame.” Not only is he insanely good at the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval, he desperately needs to win so that he can lock up his spot in what would be his final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint. It wouldn’t feel right without him.