NASCAR turns back the clock for their annual Southern 500 at Darlington Speedway

It's throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway

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This week, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads for the track they call "Too Tough To tame" in Darlington, South Carolina. Considered one of NASCAR's landmark race tracks, this track is rich with history as it was built back in 1950 and of the many changes this sport has seen, this track has stood the test of time through it all. A win here would truly be a huge victory for any driver as this track is arguably the most difficult to get around as danger lurks in every corner. Over the many years this track has existed, many drivers have found the wall and collected their "Darlington stripe." Hitting the wall here comes as a sort of a right of passage. Driving around the outside at this track is nearly impossible considering how narrow the grove is around the wall and only a select few can manage it. When the dust settles, more than likely the cleanest looking car will go to victory lane.

One of the many things that makes this race so special is the tradition that comes along with it. Back when this track was incorporated into the schedule in 1950, NASCAR made sure that it always fell on Labor Day weekend and for many years, this was one of the most popular races in motor sports. Fans from all around the country flocked in one by one to watch their heroes try and tame the track that could not be tamed. Over the years, they watched some of the best finishes in history. This tradition would continue all the way up until 2004 when NASCAR announced they would switch around the schedule and put the Labor Day race at Auto Club Speedway in California of all places and as you would think, this was one of the most unpopular decisions made in the sports history.

It wasn't till 2015, that NASCAR finally decided to return the iconic race to its original date. When the announcement was made, nearly all the teams decided to celebrate by running nostalgic paint schemes. This has really been a neat way for the sport not only to pay tribute to its past but also a nice way to drum up more conversation about who has the best or worst paint scheme for this race. Most of the drivers really went all out this year in their efforts, William Byron being the best example. This year, Byron will be running the paint scheme made famous by Cole Trickle in Days Of Thunder. Overall, the car looks nearly identical to the green and yellow city Chevrolet seen in the film, the only difference being the car number. For most, watching this race will be a trip down memory lane considering a lot of these paint schemes are all that us fans watched as we grew up, it should be a great time picking out each driver and remembering who drove that car before them.

The driver I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. Stop me if you have heard this before but Kyle Larson has yet to win a points-paying race this season and as close as he has been, you would think that he would at least rattled off a few this season. It always seems as if there is one thing that comes up and costs them a chance to win. Last Season here, Larson led a race high 284 laps and swept both stages but due to an ill handling car and a bad pitstop, he had to settle for a disappointing third place finish. This year, I expect it to be different. As rocky as it has been at times for him, he has always been a threat to win and on Sunday, I think he will finish what he started last season and pick up his first win of the season and finally assure his spot in the playoffs. He will be piloting a paint scheme that resembles Ricky Craven's 1995-1996 kodiak livery. As most NASCAR fans know, Craven claimed his second career victory at Darlington back in 2003 so Larson and company are hoping that paying tribute to him will bring this team good luck come sunday, not that I think he will need it though considering he has led over four hundred laps in the past two darlington races. Look for Kyle Larson to take the checkered flag.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats).

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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