DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Here's what you need to know from Sunday night's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, the 27th race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series:
WINNER: Denny Hamlin made up about 20-second deficit after missing the entrance to pit road, battled back to chase down race leader Martin Truex Jr., and won his second Southern 500. Truex suffered a flat right front tire and scrubbed the wall in the closing laps. Hamlin had fresher tires and his crew chief, Mike Wheeler, encouraged him after the mistake: ''We can still do this."
And Hamlin did. He completed the weekend sweep, having won the Xfinity Series race Saturday. Hamlin won this race in 2010. "We drove our ass off. That's as hard as I can drive," Hamlin said. "I can't say enough about this track. I love this racetrack. This is the second one. This one's sweeter."
Truex, who clinched the regular-season title but clearly was disappointed at missing out on back-to-back wins in the Southern 500, said: “Sometimes it’s just not your night. Tonight wasn’t our night.” Rounding out the top five were Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon and Erik Jones.
DALE JR: NASCAR's 14-time most popular driver finished where he started - in 22nd place. He must win next Saturday at Richmond Raceway to make the playoffs in his final full-time Cup season.
CASSILL AND HAMLIN: Hamlin was cutting into the lead Truex had built when he ran into lapped traffic and hit Landon Cassill, who was running the same high line Hamlin was. That didn't cause a caution, but it did slow Hamlin.
PITS ARE THE PITS: Then-race leader Hamlin made an unusual error with 53 laps remaining as he missed the entrance to pit road on what was scheduled to be the team’s final stop of the night.
WARE VS. ALLMENDINGER: Cody Ware and AJ Allmendinger crashed in Turn 2 on Lap 155, bringing out caution No. 5
SUAREZ, WALL MEET: Daniel Suarez battered his Toyota in a meeting with the Turn 1 wall on Lap 126, producing the night’s fourth caution.
STAGE ONE: Truex, who has proven himself to be a master of stage racing, came from behind to edge Larson to win the first stage by about half a car-length. It was the 16th seasonal stage win for Truex. Following Truex and Larson at the end of the stage were Hamlin, Harvick, Keselowski, Erik Jones, McMurray, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Dillon.
CAUTION TWO: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. lost control of his Ford in Turn 4 on Lap 42 and slapped the outside wall twice, causing the second caution flag.
PAIN FOR BAYNE: Trevor Bayne caused the race’s first caution flag, slamming into the outside wall in Turn 3 after experiencing a tire problem on Lap 17. He made slight contact with Allmendinger’s car after bouncing off the wall.
IT’S GOOD TO BE THE KING: As part of Darlington’s throwback weekend, Richard Petty drove one of his old No. 43 Plymouths on track during pre-race pace laps. The ride apparently was enjoyable for the 80-year-old Petty, who stayed on the track longer than planned and eventually was “black-flagged” by NASCAR.
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