Matt Kenseth, driver of Joe Gibbs Racing, won the 64th Annual Bojangles’ Southern 500 but his teammate Kyle Busch lead a race leading and dominating 265 of 367 laps.
Kurt Busch started the race on the pole and proceeded to lead the first 51 laps during one of the longest green flag runs at Darlington. Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch proceeded to trade the lead for the next 22 laps.
Kyle Busch took over the lead and led another 263 laps. With the exception of lead changes during green flag pit stops he had the field covered and was on his way to a win. Matt Kenseth was in the top five all day and was waiting for his chance to pounce.
Kyle Busch set a blistering pace for the race; at one point only 11 cars were on the lead lap. The lack of caution flags kept a lot of good teams from being able to improve their cars. This eliminated most of the contenders. One thing was obvious; the Joe Gibbs Racing Teams were on their game. Before Kyle faded at the end of the race the JGR teams were running 1, 2, 3.
When asked about Kyle’s drop from the lead, Matt said “Look, we’ve all been there. Man, it’s crushing when you lead all day like that and don’t come home with a win, especially if it’s something that you get a flat tire or something. Really disappointing.”
This is Matt Kenseth’s first win at Darlington Raceway and his third win of the season. It is also Matt’s first win with interim crew chief Wally Brown.
“I remember when I first came here and ran it Labor Day, it was 90 degrees, the track is so slick and slow, a five-hour race.” Matt said, “It was just a crazy, grueling, difficult race. It’s a tricky track. There’s a lot of tradition here. To be able to win a race at a track like this, especially the Southern 500, man, it’s big. In my mind, it’s one of the biggest races we have of the year really. It’s just a special place to win at.”
Kyle Bush helped set the record for an average race speed of 141.386 mph, breaking the previous record of 140.350 mph, which he also helped set in May 2008.
Joe Gibbs Racing Driver Denny Hamlin was second in his first full week back after breaking his back at Auto Club Speedway five weeks ago. Denny is now 27th in points tied with last week’s winner David Ragan.
Jeff Gordon was third, Jimmie Johnson fourth and Kevin Harvick fifth.
Jimmie Johnson leads the point standings by 44 points over Carl Edwards. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 16th and is the highest finishing rookie.
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