Denny Hamlin wins Bojangles Southern 500

Martin Truex Jr

More importantly, it gets a core group of fans that may have soured on the sport in recent years to perk up for a second. He also has finished in the top 6 in three of his last five races and in back-to-back events. McMillan, a second-round pick, was injured in his first preseason game. This does not bode well for the driver than needs a win in the next two races to make the playoffs. The next one is to win the Southern 500. Hamlin had led 121 until he almost blew it entering the pits.

"That's really the biggest advantage", Harvick said. His lap was 0.102-of-a-second slower than pole victor Kevin Harvick's lap of 27.669 at 177.730. Look for Harvick to be near the front tonight.

Hamlin rallied in a manner that all drivers can appreciate, but perhaps most particularly the ones who used to wrench on their own cars in their own garages.

"I was hoping it would (turn out this way)", he said, "or else I would've looked pretty silly trying to explain why we lost". "Charlotte went all out (with the coverage), and I wasn't prepared for what happened in Charlotte". "Proud of everybody, wish we would have won but that's the breaks sometimes".

Kyle Busch will start third.

Trophy talk: Monster and NASCAR unveiled the championship trophy for the Monster Energy Cup Series late in the week, and it had people talking. Toyota's Martin Truex Jr. qualified second (177.077) and Toyota's Kyle Busch third (176.682).

Truex said the double-file restarts make racing different at every track, not just Darlington. "But I think our race stuff is going to be great". Other short odds to win are Kyle Larson (9/2) and Denny Hamlin (7/1).

Hamlin swept the weekend at Darlington, having won the Xfinity race Saturday. He has won seven times in the two series at Darlington. "If you don't win here with Denny, you probably didn't have a good enough auto".

So Hamlin started the comeback. But a caution came out for the ninth and final time when series points leader Elliott Sadler hit the wall attempting to move up.

Truex won the first two stages in the initial 200 laps of the 367-lap race.

Elbows up, he methodically tracked Martin Truex Jr. down through lapped traffic, caught him, tailed him and eventually passed him when Truex Jr. cut a tire with two laps remaining.

"This is the Southern 500", Hamlin said. "Glad we were able to clear him coming out of (turn) four or it could've been a lot more exciting".

Although he had lost a significant amount of time after missing pit road with 54 laps remaining, he made up for it with excellent driving down the stretch for the win. After he retired as a driver, Brian Vickers took over that ride and drove it to the 2003 Xfinity Series championship. "It wound up being a great race and that's all you can ask for".

FORMULA ONE: Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, virtually unchallenged from the pole as he took a 238-235 lead over Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' standings. When he got clear of the field with six laps left, Logano thought he would have a chance to take things to the end. "It went a long time ago".

Brennan Poole was sixth, followed by Ty Dillon, Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer and Austin Dillon rounded out the top 10.

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