Everything about Sunday, and the entire weekend, felt like it was a trip back in time. Classic outfits, classic looks on cars, restored vehicles, and Hall of Fame drivers all attending one major celebration.
It had a feel of times gone by in the sport, and it just felt so right.
Darlington Raceway has become the one event every season that seems to bring out the best in every aspect of NASCAR. Past fans get the chance to relive the days of racing past, while new fans are exposed to the cars, and people, that made what they know today. It has become not just a race, but an experience, and it will only get bigger, grander, and have more involvement as years pass.
There still was a race to be run, and it had the look as though the dominant car once again was going to be the one back in victory lane.
That is until there was a few laps remaining.
Despite the throwback look to the Bass Pro Shops design of Dale Earnhardt, Martin Truex Jr. couldn’t pull off a second straight win in the classic event. A flat tire meant another classic look was getting a victory. That look didn’t come from a stock car, but from a modified.
Denny Hamlin went to his short track roots, bringing on the “Flying 11″ of Ray Hendrick, and he flew right through the field after missing pit road.
A 20-second gap couldn’t stop the red and white Toyota, and for the second time in his career, but for the first time on it’s traditional weekend, the No. 11 flew right into victory lane.
Unfortunately, that did not mean a victory for the participants. Although many ended the night with a strong finish. Here’s the reworked standings after the Bojangles’ Southern 500:
Ashley Hobbs (840) Kyle Larson finished 14th –  28
Misan Akuya (834) Jamie McMurray finished 10th –  22
Rob Tiongson (834) Martin Truex Jr. finished 8th –  14
Penny Whitecotton (796) Kevin Harvick finished 9th –  6
Sal Sigala Jr. (789) Martin Truex Jr. finished 8th –  29
Ashley Hull (771) Martin Truex Jr. finished 8th –  22
Patti Rodisch (725) Jimmie Johnson finished 12th –  15
Dustin Parks (684) Martin Truex Jr. finished 8th –  10
Klarissa Mitchell (680) Jamie McMurray finished 10th –  0
Billy Fellin (674) Kurt Busch finished 3rd –  15
Rob Blount (665) Kyle Larson finished 14th –  14
Ashley McCubbin (652) NO PICK SENT –  10
Dalton Hastings (633) Kurt Busch finished 3rd –  5
Next Race: It comes down to one. One last race to set the field for the playoffs. One last regular season event to get a victory. It’s down to one last race before the field of 16 is reset for a championship quest. The regular season champion is already locked in, despite not being given the special bonus for being the top driver through 26 races.
It’s time to determine who will battle for the inaugural Monster Energy NASCAR Cup championship. It’s bittersweet because despite the track being the perfect backdrop to determine the playoff field, come 2018 it will not be. “Racing Perfection” will have one last ride as the final race before the playoffs, so a victory at Richmond will certainly be a great way to send it off into the sunset.
This is the final time for the participants to choose whomever they want to win, but the deadline hasn’t changed. Picks for the final race of the year, the Federated Auto Parts 400, are due by 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 7.