“The Lady In Black” shined up nicely, but wasn’t ready to play as nice. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series made its Labor Day stop in Darlington, the “Track To Tough To Tame”.
Who was dancing a two step and who stumbled out on two left feet?
On The Gas…
5) Erik Jones – At one time, rookies finishing on the lead lap at Darlington was pure fiction. Now, they are expected to run up front, and with a little patience and some strategy, Erik Jones came home fifth in his first Southern 500.
4) Jamie McMurray – Withe the playoffs right around the corner and the No. 1 McDonalds Chevy solidly in the top 16. The night at Darlington was all about no mistakes and that is exactly what McMurray did. A solid top 10 which keeps him in ninth in the standings heading to Richmond.
3) Kurt Busch – With the new Monster Energy trophy unveiled this week, bringing the Monster Energy Chevy home with a solid finish was much needed. Busch scored his second straight top three and first top three since winning the season opening Daytona 500.
2) Martin Truex Jr. – Stage wins number 16 and 17 for Truex on the season helped lock up the regular season championship, and the 15 bonus points for the playoff, but a late race mistake cost him a shot at the win. Still a solid top ten for the points leader.
1) Kyle Busch – He may not have taken home the trophy, but a second place for a driver that just a couple of weeks back had many people wondering if he’d see Victory lane. Now he’s a title contender and did it with a legal car.
They were throwing back on track but keeping it up to date with the final results. Some drivers though, wish they could have thrown it back to Sunday morning and not got out of bed.
You ask, what about the winner?
Well encumbered wins get looked upon as if a driver didn’t get out of bed or show up. We Hope the trophy’s not as tarnished as the victory.
On The Brakes…
5) AJ Allmendinger – When you’re involved in two wrecks on the same day and neither are your fault, you just want to go back to bed…or slam your head in to the wall. AJ’s got too good of hair for the latter.
4) Matt DiBenedetto – A very popular paint scheme and running a solid race for the GoFas Racing team, until he was involved in a wreck that happened in front of him. DiBenedetto did ask nicely for someone to tell the No. 51 to quit racing. That request will fall on deaf ears I suspect.
3) Ryan Blaney – “I’ve hit the wall both times i’ve come to Darlington.” Those were the words from Blaney prior to the Southern 500 and he can add a third year as he bounced off the wall early in route to a 31st place finish.
2) Trevor Bayne – Everyone bounces off the wall at Darlington, it’s just the way it is. Unfortunately for Bayne, he did it with only 3 out of the 4 tires on his car up. Cars don’t turn very well with the right front down and the throwback No. 6 to Mark Martin was out of it early.
1) Clint Bowyer – The strange and unusual pretty much defines Clint Bowyer, as it also defines the situation that took him out of the race just 18 laps in. “I tried to shut it off, which is normal under caution, but it just didn’t want to.” That’s when he knew his Ford was blowing up, and a push to the garage was inevitable.
Two throwback schemes to honor Mark Martin and both sat in the garage before the sun went down. The Hall of Famer may not want his legacy tarnished any further and should tell drivers, “Stop honoring me.”
Maybe next year will be better for Mark and any driver with his paint scheme.
But for the 40 drivers that left the end of summer in the rear view at Darlington, now looks head long towards fall and the NASCAR playoffs.
One more stop first. The “Action Track” aka Richmond Raceway.