DARLINGTON, S.C. -- The highlights of Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, the next-to-last race in the Sprint Cup regular season:
WINNER: Martin Truex Jr. showed strength late in the race and held off a list of challengers over the final laps to win, his second victory of the season. Kevin Harvick, whose fast car was slowed by pit issues, chased Truex for the lead in the closing laps but couldn’t close the gap. Harvick slammed into the outside wall twice during the pursuit. Truex also won the Coca-Cola 600 in May.
ALMIROLA INTO WALL: Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer tangled with 18 laps to go, contact that shot Almirola into the outside wall, ending the night for the No. 43 and setting up the final restart.
BUSCH CRASH: Contact between Paul Menard and Kurt Busch sent Busch into a wild spin and contact with the wall with 40 laps to go, causing the race’s ninth caution.
SMOKE LEAVES IN SMOKE: Tony Stewart’s final race at Darlington ended with 50 laps to go because of engine trouble in his Chevrolet. Stewart drove in 24 career Sprint Cup races at Darlington without a victory.
FITS IN THE PITS: A bad pit stop dropped Harvick, who dominated much of the race, from the lead to 12th place during a late-race caution flag. Trouble with an air gun apparently contributed to the slow pit time. Other cars in the lead group had 11-12-second stops, while Harvick’s took 15. "The guys on pit road are doing a terrible job," Harvick said.
PENALTIES? The Chevrolets of Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman failed post-race inspection. Penalties for the two teams could be coming later this week.
BLANEY VS. ALLMENDINGER: Side-to-side contact between Ryan Blaney and AJ Allmendinger resulted in Allmendinger sliding out of Turn 2 and bringing out the seventh caution.
GORDON STRUGGLES: The evening was not a great one for Jeff Gordon, who replaced Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. Gordon was down two laps by the race’s halfway point. He also is scheduled to drive for Earnhardt in races at Richmond, Dover and Martinsville.
SCOTT SLIDES: The race’s second caution flew on lap 115 when Brian Scott slid out of the second turn. Scott also was involved in the night’s third caution when contact from Tony Stewart sent Scott sailing into the inside wall and then on to the garage. Scott, who was several laps down, said he was trying to motion Stewart to pass him. When asked later what happened, Stewart said, ''He wrecked.''
PIT CAUTION: Trevor Bayne produced the night’s first caution when he spun out while attempting to pit on lap 96.
PENALTY FOR SIX-TIME: Jimmie Johnson was penalized by NASCAR after his crew made illegal modifications during a pit stop. Johnson pulled off the track for a pass-through penalty. Later in the race, Johnson, running a lap down, lost control of his Chevrolet in traffic in the fourth turn and slid into the inside wall.
GOING GREEN: The first 95 laps of the race were run under green-flag conditions, a rarity at tight Darlington, where wrecks are considered part of the race-day fabric. Harvick led the first 137 laps.
THROWBACK MANIA: The speedway’s “throwback” promotion resulted in virtually every car in the 40-car starting field carrying a paint scheme honoring former drivers, cars and/or sponsors. Popular for the second straight season at Darlington, the promotion extended to the race track, as the field took two extra pace laps before the start to give fans in the stands a better look at the paint schemes.
HAIL CALE: The weekend was a big one for NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough. The track’s garage area was named in his honor Saturday, and the five-time Southern 500 winner led the field in the pace car Sunday. Then he retreated to his farm in nearby Sardis.
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