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5 Storylines to Watch in NASCAR Bojangles Southern 500

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5 Storylines to Watch in Bojangles Southern 500

Peter Casey-USA Today Sports

There are many developing storylines heading into the NASCAR Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Last week at Talladega Superspeedway, the small budget team of Front Row Racing actually finished on the front row with David Ragan and David Gilliland even though Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth looked dominant all day.

Going into Darlington this weekend, nicknamed the Lady in Black, experience is going to be paramount in pulling out a victory at this track. It shouldn't be a surprise if the dominant veterans such as Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, or Greg Biffle in the Sprint Cup Series rule the day. These guys have some of the best driver ratings for the track and should definitely be watched on Saturday evening.

It will also be interesting to see how Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing bounce back now that their penalties have been reduced. How well will these teams be able to compete while lacking key crew chiefs and engineers?

This weekend at Darlington Raceway will also mark the return of Denny Hamlin after the crash with rival Joey Logano at Auto Club Speedway. The crash led to a huge back injury that kept Hamlin out of his No. 11 ride for five races. If Hamlin wants to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup this year he has to win.

There are also still big names that are struggling this season chief among them being the 2011 Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart. Stewart will have to seriously turn up the heat this summer if he wants to make the Chase.

Jake Thompson is a NASCAR Writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @JakeThompsonCU.

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Jimmie Johnson's Dominance

Jerry Lai-USA Today Sports

Can he continue his dominant performance this season and win once again at the Lady in Black?

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Tony Stewart's Desperation

Mark J. Rebilas-USA Today Sports

The 2011 Champion has to start finishing better or else he won't even make it to the Chase this year.

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Aric Almirola's Top-Ten Streak

Marvin Gentry-USA Today Sports

The young Richard Petty Motorsports driver will be hoping to get another top-ten finish to continue his quiet march up the Sprint Cup standings.

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Penske Racing After the Appeals

Marvin Gentry-USA Today Sports

Can Brad Keselowski still finish well without crew chief Paul Wolfe who has helped him win so many races? Can other Penske driver Joey Logano find a way to fight his way to a Chase berth?

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Denny Hamlin's Return

Jerry Lai-USA Today Sports

Will Denny Hamlin be able to get the desperate win he needs at the track to launch his comeback and drive to the Chase?