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500 Victor Edwards: Tough Racing’s Good Racing

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, September 7 2015
Car Edwards loved Saturday night's Southern 500 at Darlington and not just because he won it. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

Car Edwards loved Saturday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington and not just because he won it. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Carl Edwards overcame a two-lap deficit to record his first-ever Bojangles Southern 500 victory in a Darlington Raceway event that the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said placed NASCAR at a bigger crossroads than most people realize.

“I think this is the opportunity for the sport to go one of two directions,” Edwards said after sprint-logo-08claiming his 25th career victory, his second this season and his first at the 1.366-mile track. “They can go the direction of making the sport competitive because the cars are easy to drive and everyone’s car is about the same and we can basically have Talladega every week. Or they can go the direction of making the cars extremely hard to drive and showing the massive talent of the drivers, the crew chiefs and the pit crews. I hope they take the latter.

“To me, when I watched these tapes from the ‘60s and ‘70s, especially here, I think … how awesome could this racing be right now as competitive as it is. Everyone has the same information, everyone has the same tools and to really put it back in the driver’s hands I think it would change the sport in a huge way and in a great way.”

NASCAR implemented a low downforce package for the legendary race’s return to its traditional Labor Day weekend. The car’s spoiler was reduced from 6 inches to 3 ½, the splitter extended a quarter-inch from the front bumper instead of 2 inches, and the radiator pan was reduced from 38 to 25 inches. Goodyear also developed a tire that would wear, once again making tire management an issue. NASCAR also allowed each team only 13 sets of tires.

Joey Logano, who had to settle for fourth after leading twice for 29 laps, noted Darlington was always tough, but tire wear “was so big” in the event.

“The cars are so out of control and you have to drive it with so much finesse,” Logano said. “(You) really think about your moves before you make them.”

Brad Keselowski, like Edwards, is a major proponent of the low downforce rules package.

“It separates the race car drivers from the pretenders, and that’s the way it should be,” Keselowski said.

NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell met briefly with the media following the event and said he thought it was a “terrific race”.

“Overall, we were pleased with the race product tonight,” O’Donnell said.

The race had 24 lead changes among 11 drivers with Keselowski the top lap-leader. En route to a second-place finish, Keselowski led six times for 196 of the 367 laps.

On the negative side, the race took nearly 4½ hours to complete due to a race record 18 caution flags for 89 laps. The old record was 17 caution flags set in May 2009. NASCAR likes to keep the races within the three-hour range for television, but O’Donnell noted the important element was whether the fans were entertained.

“When I looked down towards the end of the race the fans were on their feet, so I think if you asked most of the race fans here tonight did they enjoy 4 ½ hours of racing I think they would say yes,” O’Donnell said. “For us, it’s always about the entertaining racing on the track and I think the drivers delivered that tonight.”

O’Donnell emphasized the 2015 rules package would be used throughout the Chase, but he expected the 2016 package to be finalized by the end of the month.

“This was a very positive night for us that we’ll build upon,” O’Donnell said.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Bojangles’ Southern 500

Darlington Raceway

Darlington, South Carolina

Sunday, September 06, 2015

  1. (13) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 367, $279625.
  2. (1) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 367, $252981.
  3. (6) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 367, $180915.
  4. (4) Joey Logano, Ford, 367, $182073.
  5. (3) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 367, $175190.
  6. (2) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 367, $133365.
  7. (10) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 367, $149731.
  8. (26) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 367, $120165.
  9. (7) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 367, $129660.
  10. (16) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 367, $128873.
  11. (11) Aric Almirola, Ford, 367, $137141.
  12. (15) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 367, $112935.
  13. (23) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 367, $130635.
  14. (20) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 367, $127726.
  15. (17) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 367, $125249.
  16. (5) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 367, $140571.
  17. (28) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 367, $129493.
  18. (24) Greg Biffle, Ford, 367, $126018.
  19. (19) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 367, $137996.
  20. (31) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 367, $93710.
  21. (14) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 367, $134996.
  22. (29) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 367, $128846.
  23. (34) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 367, $124018.
  24. (35) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 367, $106818.
  25. (25) Matt DiBenedetto #, Toyota, 367, $105613.
  26. (12) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 367, $97255.
  27. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 367, $108213.
  28. (33) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 367, $114200.
  29. (32) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 366, $105202.
  30. (9) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 366, $85955.
  31. (41) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 364, $86755.
  32. (42) Mike Bliss(i), Chevrolet, 363, $84055.
  33. (27) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 354, $91855.
  34. (36) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 348, $83655.
  35. (18) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 342, $128035.
  36. (40) Brett Moffitt #, Ford, 332, $83360.
  37. (43) TJ Bell, Ford, 325, $83138.
  38. (8) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 313, $86348.
  39. (39) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 300, $74285.
  40. (21) David Ragan, Toyota, Accident, 275, $97499.
  41. (22) Chase Elliott(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 227, $66285.
  42. (30) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, Accident, 190, $70285.
  43. (37) Cole Whitt, Ford, Accident, 5, $58785.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  111.993 mph.

Time of Race:  04 Hrs, 28 Mins, 35 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.902 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  18 for 89 laps.

Lead Changes:  24 among 11 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   B. Keselowski 1-62; C. Edwards 63-65; K. Kahne 66-67; D. Hamlin 68-109; K. Harvick 110; D. Hamlin 111-117; B. Keselowski 118-137; K. Harvick 138-139; B. Keselowski 140-193; Kurt Busch 194; B. Keselowski 195-202; Kurt Busch 203-208; K. Larson 209-211; T. Stewart 212-221; D. Hamlin 222-229; K. Harvick 230-247; J. Logano 248-266; Kyle Busch 267-269; J. Logano 270-279; K. Harvick 280-302; D. Gilliland 303; B. Keselowski 304-344; C. Edwards 345; B. Keselowski 346-356; C. Edwards 357-367.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  B. Keselowski 6 times for 196 laps; D. Hamlin 3 times for 57 laps; K. Harvick 4 times for 44 laps; J. Logano 2 times for 29 laps; C. Edwards 3 times for 15 laps; T. Stewart 1 time for 10 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 7 laps; K. Larson 1 time for 3 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 3 laps; K. Kahne 1 time for 2 laps; D. Gilliland 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 948; J. Logano – 906; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 855; B. Keselowski – 837; J. Johnson – 817; M. Truex Jr. – 806; M. Kenseth – 776; D. Hamlin – 754; Kurt Busch – 752; J. Mcmurray – 726; R. Newman – 714; C. Edwards – 713; J. Gordon – 700; P. Menard – 692; C. Bowyer – 682; A. Almirola – 653.

 

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, September 7 2015
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