While enjoying a week off, many NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers utilized social media to give fans a glimpse into their personal lives and what they do on vacation. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson both attended weddings. Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. visited the beach and added a new puppy to the family. Then, there was Tony Stewart. Stewart utilized Periscope, a live streaming app, to broadcast himself using a massive blowtorch on his property to burn brush. All in all, drivers who kept the world informed of their vacation plans seemed to enjoy a much needed week off while continuing to entertain fans.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series and Camping World Trucks Series continued their season over the weekend. Paul Menard captured his first victory in the XFINITY Series this season at Road America last Saturday. In an exciting race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Erik Jones secured his second season victory and remains the points leader in the Camping World Truck Series.
Traditions return this weekend when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina for Labor Day Weekend. Known as the “Lady in Black,” and the track that is “Too Tough to Tame,” Darlington Raceway is deep-rooted in NASCAR’s history, and proves to be a challenge for many drivers. The track previously held the Bojangles Southern 500 race on Labor Day weekend for 53 years, until losing the coveted date several years ago. With the return of the iconic Labor Day weekend date, NASCAR teams and sponsors are commemorating the occasion with throwback paint schemes. Many paint schemes pay tribute to some of NASCAR’s finest from an earlier era, others boast vintage logos of long-time sponsors.
This egg-shaped oval track measures 1.36 miles around with banking in the turns between 23 and 25 degrees. They Lady in Black shows no mercy, and habitually makes her mark on most cars with a Darlington stripe. The Darlington Stripe is a reference to a mark on the right side of driver’s cars when contact is made with the outside wall of the track while attempting to run the fastest line. It is very difficult to pass on this track as there is one primary groove for drivers to run. This places emphasis on qualifying this week. With the impending cutoff for the Chase, drivers and teams will have to work diligently to gain a great starting position for Saturday night’s race.
The Fast Five for Darlington Raceway is a combination of past performances at this track and overall performance this season. Featured drivers in this week’s Fast Five are: Jeff Gordon, who has struggled this season, but is the top rated driver for this track with seven wins; Kyle Busch, whose style is well-suited for this type of track and is a previous winner; Denny Hamlin, who holds the best finishing position at this track, is a previous winner, and Joe Gibbs Racing has been extremely dominant in the last several races; Matt Kenseth, who is a previous winner at this track and one of the most dominant drivers this season; and Kevin Harvick, who is the defending race winner and a top-rated driver at Darlington. In addition to the Fast Five, keep an eye on Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson as dark horses.
Tune into the race Sunday at 7:00 p.m. on NBC.