Carl Edwards took the lead on the last pit stop and held off Denny Hamlin on a restart eight laps from the end for his first Southern 500 victory Sunday night in Darlington, South Carolina.
Edwards was two laps behind early in the nearly five-hour NASCAR Sprint Cup race, slowed by a record 18 cautions at Darlington Raceway.
Pole-sitter Brad Keselowski was second and Hamlin finished third. Joey Logano was fourth, followed by defending race champion Kevin Harvick and the Busch brothers, Kurt and Kyle.
Edwards won for the second time this season, and gave Joe Gibbs Racing its seventh victory in the last 10 events. JGR swept the weekend, with Hamlin winning the Xfinity race Saturday.
“I guess we made it Carlington for a couple of minutes,” Edwards said as he crew taped over part of the “D” on the painted Darlington sign along a retaining wall. “This is the Southern 500. This is amazing.”
It’s the seventh time in 11 seasons as a full-time driver Edwards has won multiple races.
Keselowski started on the pole and by far led the most laps with 196. But he was beaten out of the pits by Edwards on Darlington’s record-setting 18th caution period with 12 laps left.
Almost as much as drivers enjoyed Darlington’s throwback paint schemes and retro-1970s theme, they loved the low downforce package given the cars – the same that was used to rave driver reviews in Kentucky earlier this year.
“Man, I loved it. This is as good as it gets,” Edwards said. “This is what it’s about: sliding cars, the tires falling off. If there’s any way we can run this in the Chase, I hope we do it.”
Keselowski agreed. “It separates the race car drivers from the pretenders and that’s the way it should be,” he said.
NASCAR returned the Southern 500 to Labor Day weekend for the first time since 2003. The track, the sport’s oldest superspeedway, closed NASCAR’s summer as one of its crown jewel events for 53 years until losing out in Sprint Cup realignment.
But NASCAR leaders thought the time was right to put the iconic race back in its traditional spot. The race featured a 1970s, throwback theme, with 35 race teams racing in some retro paint scheme.
Kyle Larson, his No. 42 sporting the Mello Yello colors, came out for driver introductions in a curly wig with a mustache grown for the weekend.
Lewis Hamilton’s win at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza has been confirmed following a tire pressure inquiry.
Hamilton’s left rear tire pressure was found to be 0.3 psi below the minimum of 19.5 when measured before Sunday’s race. But stewards decided to take no action because they determined that the pressure was at the correct level when the tires were fitted to the car.
Hamilton nearly doubled his Formula One lead over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, whose engine caught fire with two laps remaining.
A potential challenge from Ferrari fizzled when Kimi Raikkonen stalled on the front row of the grid.
In perfect conditions, Hamilton finished 25 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the other Ferrari, while Williams’ Felipe Massa crossed third, 47 seconds back.
Jack Beckman won the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, beating Robert Hight in the final of the Funny Car bonus event at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Brownsburg, Indiana.
Beckman had a 4.051-second run at 309.06 mph in his Dodge Charger R/T to take the $100,000 top prize. He also won the event at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2007. John Force is the only driver to win twice.
Beckman also earned the No. 1 qualifying position for the final eliminations today in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series finale.
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