In the closing stage of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, Denny Hamlin would repeat as a winner of the event by overcoming a nearly twenty second deficit in the closing laps.
With the final stop in sight for the night and well within fuel range to make it to the end, Hamlin would make his way to pit road only to over shoot pit road entirely. Hamlin would be forced to drive all the way back around and pit behind team mate Kyle Busch coming back out in the 14th position.
Hamlin’s trip wouldn’t be without help with stage one and two winner Truex who plowed into the wall with the white flag in sight.
“I was just so loose on those old tires that there wasn’t anything I could do to keep pace and that’s the reason why he caught us. Then with two to go we blew a tire.” Said Truex
Truex for his part leaving Darlington wasn’t without reward. Winning stage one of the night in a pass at the line over eventual race winner Hamlin locking up ten of twenty needed points of the night to clinch the regular season.
Following that up, Truex would back up the first stage win with a stage two win to clinch the first ever Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season championship prior to the final race at Richmond next weekend when the series locks in the 16 drivers who will fight it out in the playoffs for the Monster Energy Cup.
“To lock up the regular season points is a huge accomplishment, especially in just two year together as a team.” Continued Truex
“It’s an honor to win the regular-season championship and a milestone for Martin and Furniture Row Racing,” said Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing. “At the end of the day, though, our sites are set on the long term-goal which is winning the championship at Homestead. We’ll use this regular season championship, and the bad luck the 78 team had at the end of tonight’s race, as a springboard to take us to that goal.” Said Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing
Hamlin would lead four times for 124 laps while Truex would finish out the night leading five times for 76 laps.
Kyle Busch would finish 2.599 seconds behind in second followed by Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, and Martin Truex Jr. all finishing all the lead lap.
The series will now roll onto Richmond Raceway for the final regular season event of 2017 for the Federated Auto Parts 400 which is scheduled for Saturday, September 9th at 7:30 PM for 400 laps(300 miles).