NASCAR

Carl Edwards snatches lead, victory late at Southern 500

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Carl Edwards snatches lead, victory late at Southern 500

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) -- Carl Edwards took the lead on the last pit stop and held off Denny Hamlin on a restart eight laps from the end for his first Southern 500 victory Sunday night.

Edwards was two laps behind early in the long, long, nearly five-hour NASCAR Sprint Cup race, slowed by a record 18 cautions at Darlington Raceway.

Pole-sitter Brad Keselowski was second and Hamlin finished third. Joey Logano was fourth, followed by defending race champion Kevin Harvick and the Busch brothers, Kurt and Kyle.

Edwards won for the second time this season, and gave Joe Gibbs Racing its seventh victory in the last 10 events. JGR swept the weekend, with Hamlin winning the Xfinity race Saturday.

Edwards did his signature victory backflip in the race's return to Labor Day weekend.

"I guess we made it Carlington for a couple of minutes," Edwards said as he crew taped over part of the "D" on the painted Darlington sign along a retaining wall. "This is the Southern 500. This is amazing."

It's the seventh time in 11 seasons as a fulltime driver Edwards has won multiple races.

Keselowski started on the pole and by far led the most laps with 196. But he was beaten out of the pits by Edwards on Darlington's record-setting 18th caution period with 12 laps left.

Almost as much as drivers enjoyed Darlington's throwback paint schemes and retro-1970s theme, they loved the low downforce package given the cars - the same that was used to rave driver reviews in Kentucky earlier this year.

"Man, I loved it. This is as good as it gets," Edwards said of the low-downforce package. "This is what it's about: sliding cars, the tires falling off. If there's any way we can run this in the Chase, I hope we do it."

Keselowski agreed. "It separates the race car drivers from the pretenders and that's the way it should be," he said.

NASCAR returned the Southern 500 to Labor Day weekend for the first time since 2003. The track, the sport's oldest superspeedway, closed NASCAR's summer as one of its crown jewel events for 53 years until losing out in Sprint Cup realignment.

But NASCAR leaders thought the time was right to put the iconic race back in its traditional sport. The race featured a 1970s, throwback theme, with 35 race teams racing in some retro paint scheme.

Kyle Larson, his No. 42 sporting the Mello Yello colors, came out for driver introductions in a curly wig with a mustache grown for the weekend. NBC Sports got into the spirit, too, having Hall of Famers Ken Squire, Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett in the TV booth to call some of the race.

While the hype was huge, the true throwback was Darlington, which was the same tire-chewing track that's beffuddled NASCAR's best for generations. Chase Elliott, running his last Sprint Cup race before slipping into retiring Jeff Gordon's seat in the No. 24 car next season, spun out just eight laps in to bring out a caution.

It was far from the last - for Darlington and for Elliott.

Bill Elliott's son, who won the Xfinity race here in 2014, was involved in another spin that took him out of the race for good.

Trevor Bayne continued his Roush-Fenway Racing struggles with two spins, both leading to cautions.

David Ragan was involved in a pair of incidents, each one leading to a caution period.

Tony Stewart stayed out during one of the cautions while the field pitted and wound up leading for 10 laps, the first time he's run up front since Talladega last May. But Stewart was quickly run down by the pack of front runners, led by Harvick and Keselowski.

Tales of the Turtles 400 coming to Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 17

Tales of the Turtles 400 coming to Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 17

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, titled Tales of the Turtles 400, is coming to Joliet on Sept. 17, Chicagoland Speedway and Nickelodeon announced last week.

It will mark the seventh straight year Chicagoland Speedway will kick off NASCAR's playoffs.

Nickelodeon Sr. Vice President of Sports Marketing Anthony DiCosmo and President of Chicagoland Speedway Scott Paddock joined SportsTalk Live to discuss it all, and even had a few special guests join them as well.

Check it out in the video above.

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Kurt Busch had a monster start to the season with a last-lap pass to win the crash-filled Daytona 500.

Busch is sponsored by Monster Energy, which kicked off its first season as the title sponsor for NASCAR's top series Sunday with the season-opener. It wasn't NASCAR finest moment, though, as multiple accidents pared down the field and had a mismatched group of drivers racing for the win at the end.

"The more that becomes unpredictable about Daytona, the more it becomes predictable to predict unpredictability," Busch said. "This car's completely thrashed. There's not a straight panel on it. The strategy today, who knew what to pit when, what segments were what. Everybody's wrecking as soon as we're done with the second segment.

"The more that I've run this race, the more that I just throw caution to the wind, let it rip and just elbows out. That's what we did."

It appeared to be pole-sitter Chase Elliott's race to lose, then he ran out of gas. So did Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Paul Menard. As they all slipped off the pace, Busch sailed through for his first career Daytona 500 victory.

It also was the first Daytona 500 win for Stewart-Haas Racing, which is co-owned by Tony Stewart. The three-time champion retired at the end of last season and watched his four cars race from the pits.

"I ran this damn race (17) years and couldn't win it, so finally won it as an owner," Stewart said.

Ryan Blaney finished second in a Ford. AJ Allmendinger was third in a Chevrolet, and Aric Almirola was fourth for Richard Petty Motorsports.

The win was a huge boost for Ford, which lured Stewart-Haas Racing away from Chevrolet this season and celebrated the coup with its second Daytona 500 victory in three years. Joey Logano won in a Ford in 2015.

The first points race of the Monster era was run under a new format that split the 500 miles into three stages. Kyle Busch won the first stage, Kevin Harvick won the second stage and neither was a contender for the win. NASCAR also this year passed a rule that gave teams just five minutes to repair any damage on their cars or they were forced to retire.

But the race was slowed by wreck after wreck after wreck, including a 17-car accident at the start of the final stage that ended the race for seven-time and reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick. It was a particularly rough incident for Patrick and her Stewart-Haas Racing team, which had all four of its cars collected in the accident.

"Just seems like that could have been avoided and was uncalled for," Johnson said of the aggressive racing behind him that triggered the accident.