Bojangles’ Southern 500

NASCAR America: Austin Dillon greets Darlington fans at 4 a.m. — until a gun shows up

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It was 4 a.m. early Monday morning at Darlington, and Austin Dillon couldn’t sleep after the Bojangles’ Southern 500.

It was kind of understandable: when you finish fourth at a place like the Track Too Tough To Tame, sometimes you get so wired that it’s hard to go to sleep.

And, the way Dillon figured it, if he can’t sleep, he wasn’t going to let others sleep — in a nice and fun way, that is, kind of.

Dillon and a couple of his also wide-awake buddies left his motor home in the infield and walked and rode around, looking for others that were also up at that point in the middle of the night.

“We had a solid run so I just hung out outside my motor home a little bit, had a couple nice drinks and still had my driver’s suit on,” Dillon retold the story on Wednesday’s NASCAR America. “We decided to check out the track, so a couple of us rode my golf cart around the track a couple times, and that was cool.”

And this is where the story gets all the more funny — and risky.

“Heck, I wanted to go see what the fans were up to, so we rolled into the infield and I walked into a couple motor homes,” Dillon said. “It was 4 in the morning at this point. They had gone night-night.

“People were starting to leave, it was pretty funny. I was waving to them, signing autographs. This lady had an Austin Dillon shirt on, leaving with her husband, taking their motor home out at 4:30 a.m.”

Everything was fun and games up to that point — until Dillon walked in the wrong RV.

“We walked in a motor home and one guy said, ‘I’ve got a gun in my sleeping bag,'” Dillon said. “I said, ‘Hey, man, I’m not Kyle Busch, it’s OK.'”

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Denny Hamlin’s two Darlington wins encumbered; crew chiefs each fined, suspended two races

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NASCAR announced Wednesday that Denny Hamlin’s Cup and Xfinity series wins this past weekend at Darlington Raceway were encumbered because of rear suspension violations.

Mike Wheeler, crew chief for Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota in the Cup Series, has been suspended for two races, meaning he would miss the Sept. 17 playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway. .

While Hamlin will be the winner of record for both races, he will not get credit for the five playoff points from the NASCAR Cup victory in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 because of an L1 penalty for violating section 20.14.2 (rear suspension) of the NASCAR Rule Book.

Joe Gibbs Racing later announced it wouldn’t appeal the penalty.

Hamlin will fall to ninth in the Monster Energy Series playoff standings. Wheeler was fined $50,000, and the team and driver were assessed deductions of 25 points apiece.

Hamlin will remain fifth in the Cup Series standings, 24 points ahead of Brad Keselowski. The top 10 finishers in the regular season will earn playoff points bonuses.

Hamlin’s Xfinity team also was assessed an L1-level penalty for violating section 20.14.2 (rear suspension) in its Saturday victory. JGR Xfinity team crew chief Eric Phillips has been fined $25,000 and will be suspended for the next two races. The team also was penalized 25 owner points.

NASCAR also announced the No. 22 Team Penske Xfinity car of Joey Logano was assessed an L1-level penalty for violating sections 20.14.2 (rear suspension) after its runner-up finish to Hamlin Saturday.

Crew chief Greg Erwin was fined $25,000 and suspended from two races, the team was assessed with the loss of 25 owner points. Logano’s finish also was ruled encumbered.

Matt Kenseth ‘struggles’ to sixth-place finish, hopes to seal playoff spot at Richmond

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Some drivers would be ecstatic to finish sixth at a place such as Darlington Raceway.

Not Matt Kenseth. He was disappointed at his sixth-place showing in Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500.

“It was a very big struggle,” the Joe Gibbs Racing driver told NBCSN. “We didn’t run well at all, Jason made some good adjustments tonight, getting it better. … We could run decent speeds for 20 laps and then we were totally junk.”

Kenseth still isn’t locked into the NASCAR Cup playoffs. He’s currently in 15th place in the playoff standings. But there’s a big caveat with that: He’s just two points behind Chase Elliott and one point ahead of 16th-ranked Jamie McMurray.

If a driver who is winless this season wins at Richmond, Kenseth needs to make sure he ends up ahead of McMurray and potentially Elliott to make the final spot — lest the Wisconsin driver finds himself on the outside looking in after the final playoff qualifying race.

“We’ve just got to running better,” Kenseth said. “All our cars are running good. We ran OK tonight, we ran top-10, but we didn’t run near good enough to win.

“I don’t feel I do the best job at this racetrack. Richmond’s a good track for us so hopefully we go there next weekend and have a good shot at a win.”

Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch 1-2 in NASCAR Cup points after Darlington

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Martin Truex Jr. continues to maintain a commanding lead in the NASCAR Cup standings.

Truex, who won both stages of Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, has a 107-point lead over Kyle Busch.

In so doing, Truex clinches the NASCAR Cup regular-season title.

Kyle Larson is third (-116 points) followed by Kevin Harvick (-133) and Sunday’s race winner, Denny Hamlin, is fifth in the standings (-190).

Just one race remains in the 26-race regular season: this Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

Click here for the post-Darlington NASCAR Cup standings.

 

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Denny Hamlin celebrates Bojangles’ Southern 500 win (videos)

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Denny Hamlin celebrated a big win in Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 in Victory Lane, calling it a “throwback to his history.”

Hamlin, who won Saturday’s Xfinity Series at Darlington Raceway, came back to sweep the throwback weekend at one of his favorite and most successful racetracks.

Check out what Hamlin had to say in victory lane in the video above.

And then, later on the post-race edition of NASCAR America, Hamlin said he ‘optimized every inch” on his comeback after missing pit road earlier in the race.