NASCAR Monster Energy Series Predictions - Bojangles' Southern 500 9/3/17

Esther Moore
September 4, 2017

The two exceptions were Hamlin and his fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.

Denny Hamlin: Even after Hamlin's pit road mishap, he left himself enough time to get back into the race.

Hamlin meanwhile was charging through the field.

Hamlin closed to within a auto length of Truex and the lead in the closing laps and was in position to take the lead when Truex got into the wall with just over two laps remaining. Running great defines Jones as he nabbed the pole at Bristol and finished second to Bristol Master Kyle Busch. "Having that first pit stall if your vehicle is not handling good, it allows you to make up two or three spots if you have a decent pit stop and hopefully keep that track position all night". Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray are now in the top 16 based on playoff points, but Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano are among the drivers still close enough to make the field on points. He leaves the 1.366-mile track with a 107-point cushion, an insurmountable advantage with one race remaining before the 16-driver playoff field is set.

That meant Truex Jr., who was in the lead at the time, also won the second stage - with that point, he clinched the regular season points championship. He now has 35 playoff points, putting him 15 up on Busch, who is second with 20 points.

Stage 2: The second hundred laps ended under a caution after Gray Gaulding spun out. As a result, he restarted 10th. He's finished first or second the last eight times he raced in NASCAR's Triple-A series at Darlington. Truex and Busch wrecked themselves out of a Brickyard 400 win, handing it to Kasey Kahne while Kyle Larson took a MI victory away from Truex with a tremendous final restart. The race's final 167 laps made up the final stage. He was fourth by the end of the stage. Newgarden finished 18th, two laps down, his 31-point lead over Dixon reduced to three.

Truex Jr. Qualifies 2nd, Jones 10th for Southern 500
It looked as if Hamlin might finish high but outside of Victory Lane once Logano broke free on a restart six laps from the end. But Truex, the defending victor of the event, was disappointed he couldn't hold on to the top spot for two more laps.

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Instead, an exhausted and thirsty Truex - his drink container ran out with 100 laps to go and there was no chance during a green-flag pit stop for his crew to give him another bottle - had to settle for an eighth-place finish.

Denny Hamlin won the Bojangles Southern 500 for the second time on Sunday night.

Defending Winner: Martin Truex Jr. Jeff Gordon is the all-time Southern 500 wins leader with six.

Only three drivers have more wins without a title - Junior Johnson (50), Martin (40) and Fireball Roberts (33).

The tradition continues at the Darlington Raceway and the official throwback weekend of NASCAR kicked off Sunday evening at the Track Too Tough to Tame. Hamlin, Logano and Harvick combined to lead all 148 laps of the Xfinity race.

There will be several fantastic, stand-out paint schemes on the track with drivers honoring classic cars from the late 1980s theme. "So proud to be back in Victory Lane in the Southern 500".

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