Carl Edwards Adds His Name To Darlington Raceway’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 History Books

Carl Edwards Adds His Name To Darlington Raceway’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 History Books

by September 7, 2015 0 comments

Photo Credit: Wayne Thomas

DARLINGTON, SC – A race known for old traditions has a new winner. Carl Edwards wrestled the lead on a late-race restart to claim Darlington Raceway’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 trophy in the track’s first traditional Labor Day weekend race since 2003.

Thanks to a speedy pit stop and a flawless restart after a caution flag with 13-laps remaining, Edwards held off Brad Keselowski and secured his first victory at the historic South Carolina track. Edwards overcame an early-race pit miscue and a flat tire that left him two laps behind the leaders. He led only 14 of the race’s 367 laps to capture his 25th career victory.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Edwards said. “Just anybody out there that’s worked on something, that’s working on their dream or something that they want to do – just never quit, never give up and keep digging. That’s all it takes is just persistence. I’m just so fortunate. I just feel like I’m blessed and just so many things have gone my way and I’m just very, very grateful.”

Keselowski, the race’s pole sitter, spent a race-high 196 laps at the head of the pack before settling for second place. A new low-downforce aerodynamic package produced 18 caution flags, a race record for the tricky, egg-shaped oval.

Edwards, an advocate for the new rules package, believes the changes better suit his driving style.

“I really think tonight, for me as a race car driver, that’s the stuff I dream about, 25 laps to go Southern 500, I’m racing with two champions, we’re swapping the lead back and forth and I think you’re able to do that because there’s less aerodynamic influence and the tires fall off and it’s really fun,” Edwards said.

“I really applaud NASCAR for running that package here,” Edwards continued. “I think it’s really cool that they’re able to go that direction or are willing to.  I just hope they keep going more”.

Edwards boosted his Chase for the Sprint Cup ranking with only one race remaining before the season’s playoffs begin. By winning his second race of the season, the Toyota driver improves his seeding heading into the season’s final 10 races.

The Darlington win was Toyota’s 75th as a manufacturer in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Even Keselowski, understandably disappointed after falling short in his Darlington domination, fell in love with the new rule package that created more passing, packs of cars and spectacular crashes.

“Yeah, there’s a lot to take from tonight for us that extends beyond the downforce, still all the same things, restarts, pit road, dialing in some of the suspension stuff on the race car,” Keselowski said.

“Mile‑and‑a‑halfs are the bread and butter of this sport. This is a little bit smaller than mile‑and‑a‑half, I think, but as we get into the Chase, you win the mile‑and‑a‑halfs, you win the championship. You know, it might not be with the same downforce, but it’s a difference ‑‑ it’s not that big of a difference and a lot of the same things still apply, engines still apply, suspension stuff still applies, pit crews, restarts, all that stuff, strategy, so I would still take that away from it.”

Keselowski battled furiously with Denny Hamlin for the runner up spot, securing the position in the race’s final turn. Hamlin led 57 laps and was one of the race’s 11 different leaders.

Joey Logano, who led 29 laps, finished fourth and Kevin Harvick, who led 44 laps, completed the top-five.

With a near capacity crowd and marketing campaign focusing on the history of Darlington’s traditional Labor Day weekend event, the race didn’t lack electricity. Throwback paint schemes, hard-nosed racing and grinding crashes created an old-school feel. The four-and-a-half hour race was the longest time-wise of the season.

Edwards, who won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, enjoys NASCAR’s longer races.

“It’s fun,” Edwards said. “These things are like a big adventure. You go out there and you race for three or four hours and you try not to tear anything up. It was so cool tonight to be able to come back from two laps down. That was really fun to be a part of something like that.”

The race was a banner night for Joe Gibbs Racing. In addition to placing two cars in the top-three at Darlington Raceway, teammate Kyle Busch secured his place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with an 18th place finish. Busch, who missed most of the early part of the season due to injury but has since won four races, locked himself inside the top-30 in the standings.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will visit Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 12 for the Federated Auto Parts 400. Coverage for the event will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 7:30 p.m. ET

Bojangles’ Southern 500 Results:

1.) #19 Carl Edwards

2.) #2 Brad Keselowski

3.) #11 Denny Hamlin

4.) #22 Joey Logano

5.) #4 Kevin Harvick

6.) #41 Kurt Busch

7.) #18 Kyle Busch

8.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.

9.) #78 Martin Truex Jr.

10.) #42 Kyle Larson

11.) #43 Aric Almirola

12.) #5 Kasey Kahne

13.) #31 Ryan Newman

14.) #1 Jamie McMurray

15.) #14 Tony Stewart

16.) #24 Jeff Gordon

17.) #15 Clint Bowyer

18.) #16 Greg Biffle

19.) #48 Jimmie Johnson

20.) #40 Landon Cassill

21.) #20 Matt Kenseth

22.) #3 Austin Dillon

23.) #47 AJ Allmendinger

24.) #7 Alex Bowman

25.) #83 Matt DiBenedetto

26.) #27 Paul Menard

27.) #38 David Gilliland

28.) #9 Sam Hornish Jr.

29.) #13 Casey Mears

30.) #21 Ryan Blaney

31.) #23 Jeb Burton

32.) #33 Mike Bliss

33.) #51 Justin Allgaier

34.) #26 JJ Yeley

35.) #6 Trevor Bayne

36.) #34 Brett Moffitt

37.) #98 TJ Bell

38.) #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

39.) #46 Michael Annett

40.) #55 David Ragan

41.) #25 Chase Elliott

42.) #10 Danica Patrick

43.) #35 Cole Whitt

Jason Beck
With a passion for both racing and writing, I've found my niche here at The Fourth Turn. In addition to covering local short track and Cup series racing, I'm a racer in the Charger class at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C.

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