Minute-by-Minute Darlington blog

May 11, 2013, NASCAR.com

Minute-by-Minute Darlington blog
Stay here for all related Darlington news, social media hype and race videos

11:28 p.m. ET: We'll leave you with one final video, of Matt Kenseth pulling away for his third win of the season. Good night!

 

 

10:59 p.m. ET: And Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup) is the first to post a picture from Victory Lane:

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10:50 p.m. ET: Some more reaction on social media:

"@toyotaracing: And what about @dennyhamlin finishing 2nd on his first full race back in his @JoeGibbsRacing Camry?? #makethechase"

"@TeamChevy: Great job #NASCAR drivers @TooToughToTame - @JeffGordonWeb p3 @JimmieJohnson p4 @KevinHarvick p5 @jpmontoya p8 #DaleJr p9 @RyanNewman39 p10"

"@MikeDavis88: #DaleJr finishes 9th. It's his 7th top-10 in 11 races this season. Matt Kenseth is your winner at Darlington. #NASCAR"

"@RCRracing: At the checkers it's @RCR29KHarvick with a solid 5th, @RCR27PMenard 19th and @RCR31JeffBurton in 21st @TooToughToTame tonight."

10:44 p.m. ET: What a great weekend for Joe Gibbs Racing. Matt Kenseth wins for the third time this season. Some reaction:

"@JoeGibbsRacing: We just swept the weekend at Darlington with two 1-2 finishes!!!! @mattkenseth wins!!!!!!!! #NASCAR"

"@toyotaracing: VICTORY! @mattkenseth wins the #NASCAR race at @TooToughToTame and @JoeGibbsRacing & @Toyota sweeps the weekend!"

10:39 p.m. ET: Matt Kenseth is in position to win this race.

"@JoeGibbsRacing: Kenseth passes Busch, takes the lead in the Husky Tools Toyota."

10:36 p.m. ET: Here's video of the incident that caused an earlier caution:

 

10:31 p.m. ET: Good point from NASCAR.com's Alan Cavanna. (Kyle Busch took blame for spinning out Kahne at Daytona and Talladega):

"@CopaCavanna: That's three times this year that Kasey and Kyle have been involved in some sort of incident."

10:24 p.m. ET: Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch completed a remarkable stretch of racing that ended when Kahne got into the wall:

"@TeamHendrick: .@kaseykahne picks up a Darlington stripe and the caution is out. #NASCAR"

10:19 p.m. ET: The leaders decide to pit under the fourth caution. Here's a sampling of how it went:

"@JoeGibbs Racing: Busch first off pit road again! Hamlin out 3rd, Kenseth out 4th. Killer pit stops crews!!! Pit Crew coaches Lepp & Alepa gotta be proud."

"@EGRTeams: #BojanglesSo500 - caution out with 39 to go. More tires and fuel for @jpmontoya. Restart 7th."

"@99_RFRracing: Came in under caution for fresh tires, gained 3 spots now P5 on the restart"

"@StewartHaasRcng: Stewart pits for 4 tires, fuel and track bar adjustment. Will restart P11. 16 cars on lead lap. 35 laps to go."

10:14 p.m. ET: Very nice use of Vine by JTG Daugherty Racing (@NASCAR47), which was right in front of David Ragan when his engine overheated.

 

10:11 p.m. ET: The official recording of the third caution, via @NASCARStats:

"Caution 3: Accident on frontstretch involving Brad Keselowski, Casey Mears and Kurt Busch; laps 313-317, 18 total caution laps #NASCAR"

10:09 p.m. ET: The top four drivers stayed out on the track during that caution; that includes two Hendrick Motorsports drivers. A most interesting question:

"@TeamHendrick: The Nos. 5 and 24 chose to stay out while the Nos. 48 and 88 came down pit road. Which strategy would you choose? #NASCAR"

10:06 p.m. ET: Third caution comes out quickly when Casey Mears gets into the wall; Kurt Busch was also affected:

"@GermainRacing: The 13 #FordFusion got pinched and spun in the melee and heads to the #sprintCup garage to see if @GermainRacing guys can fix it:

9:59 p.m. ET: The biggest question for drivers is whether or not they'll have enough fuel the rest of the way. Kasey Kahne appears to be in good shape:

"@Hendrick5Team: Crew chief #KennyFrancis tells @kaseykahne that we should be good on fuel for the remainder of race."

9:52 p.m. ET: The second caution of the race was brought out when Regan Smith spun out. It happened right as green-flag pit stops were underway. How it impacts certain drivers:

"@JoeGibbsRacing: Caution for 51. Puts us very tightly within our fuel window. #NASCAR"

"@StewartHaasRcng: Caution is out on lap 301. Great break for Stewart. P8"

"@MWRteam: Lap 301: caution: @ClintBowyer now p11. Was stretching fuel as other started to pit. Still -1 lap. #nascar"

"@RCRracing:Second caution waves... @RCR29KHarvick caught a lap down after stop... @RCR27PMenard is 20h, @RCR31JeffBurton 21st"

9:50 p.m. ET: Some pit strategy from Kevin Harvick, who's been in or near the top five all night.

"@RCR29KHarvick: Crew chief @GilMartinRCR just called @KevinHarvick to pit road for final stop @TooToughToTame ...final scheduled stop, that is..."

9:46 p.m. ET: You knew Jimmie Johnson would gain some ground on Kyle Busch. From Joe Gibbs Racing's account:

"@JoeGibbsRacing: 48 now 0.7 sec behind Kyle. 77 laps to go"

9:42 p.m. ET: We're in the midst of another strong showing from Hendrick Motorsports at Darlington Raceway.

"@TeamHendrick: After Lap 280 of 367: @JimmieJohnson (2nd), @kaseykahne (3rd), @JeffGordonWeb (6th) and #DaleJr (8th). #NASCAR"

9:40 p.m. ET: One Busch continues to speed away, the other continues to struggle. From David Caraviello:

"@dcaraviello: Pole sitter Kurt Busch, in 12th place, just lapped by brother Kyle."


9:38 p.m. ET:
Making his 700th career Cup start, Jeff Gordon is near the top five. The latest pit stop made his car better in Turns 1 and 2, but he's slightly worse in Turns 3 and 4 now.

"@JeffGordonWeb Alan: 'Stay after it. Put the pressure on them. They're struggling ahead of you.' #NASCAR #Team24"

9:34 p.m. ET: We haven't heard much from last week's winner, David Ragan, tonight. The Front Row Motorsports driver has had a rough go at Darlington Raceway.

"@FrontRowNASCAR: The 34 car will pit for four tires and fuel at lap 264. @DavidRagan says the car still needs to turn better. Cut it close on fuel!"

9:32 p.m. ET: And now, Kurt Busch is apologizing to his team over the radio for his showing tonight (the No. 78 is currently 11th). His team tells him to stay positive:

"@FR78Racing: FR78Racing crew to Kurt after his apology, 'Just keep digging.' #NASCAR #FRSupportsOurTroops"

9:26 p.m. ET: Clint Bowyer had to serve a pass-through penalty for driving off with his gas can still in. He apologized to his team, which took it in stride ...

"@MWRteam: Spotter Griffin to @ClintBowyer - 'Relax - showing you in the lucky dog position. We still have a whole Nationwide race to run.' #nascar"

9:21 p.m. ET: Tony Stewart had cracked the top 10 prior to coming in for fuel. He's only had one top-10 this season.

"@StewartHaasRcng: Another round of green flag stops. Stewart pits on lap 240 for 4 tires, fuel and LR wedge adjustment."

9:18 p.m. ET: Kasey Kahne, running third at the time of this incident, is having a tough time hearing his team over the radio. Alan Cavanna:

"@CopaCavanna: Kahne trying to tell team he is loose. Team asks 'what's loose?' and he says he can't understand them. They're trying to bring him in soon"

9:14 p.m. ET: A good night is continuing to turn bad for Kurt Busch. He's slapped the wall in his No. 78 Chevrolet. Alan Cavanna was listening to his scanner:

"@CopaCavanna: Kurt got the 'ol Darlington stripe'. Tells crew to make sure they fix right front fender."

9:10 p.m. ET: The four Hendrick Motorsports drivers are all in the top eight, with Jimmie Johnson leading the charge at second. You can follow the race with our live leaderboard here.

9:06 p.m. ET: Sounds like Greg Biffle has a good car, but he's out of the top 15 as it stands. Via 3M Racing:

"@3MRacing: Times are showing the No. 16 3M/Meguiar’s Ford Fusion is running same times as the leader. #NASCAR"

8:59 p.m. ET: Brad Keselowski is almost in position to be the beneficiary, should a caution come out. He went down two laps earlier with a vibration issue. From Alan Cavanna:

"@CopaCavanna: . @keselowski just has to pass Kvapil to be in the free pass position. Logano is right behind him though"

8:54 p.m. ET: Richard Childress Racing has two drivers in the top 12 thus far, much like it has two drivers in the top in the points standings. The report:

"@RCRracing: Green flag stops cycle through w/ @RCR29KHarvick in 9th, @RCR27PMenard 12th and @RCR31JeffBurton in 22nd place w/ 179 laps left"

8:50 p.m. ET: Halfway home! The Busch brothers have dominated thus far, leading 180 of the first 184 laps.

"@NASCARStats: Lap 184: Halfway through the #BojanglesSo500 and green-flag stops are underway. #NASCAR"

8:47 p.m. ET: A nice, newsy update from NASCAR Stats:

"@NASCARStats: Lap 175: Kyle Busch continues to pace the field with teammate Matt Kenseth in second. Hendrick cars running 4th-7th #NASCAR"

8:41 p.m. ET: This is the race in which Matt Kenseth does not have suspended crew chief Jason Ratcliff, but it might not matter. Kenseth running well -- again. See below:

"@JoeGibbsRacing: The Husky Tools Toyota is trimming Busch’s lead. Down to 1.4 sec. #NASCAR"

8:35 p.m. ET: A frustrated Kurt Busch, who has led 69 laps, is dropping down the top 10. He's using some colorful analogies to describe his displeasure. NASCAR.com's Alan Cavanna:

"@CopaCavanna: About 20 laps ago, Kurt described the surface as 'linoleum', now it's like 'ice'."

8:34 p.m. ET: Carl Edwards had car issues earlier, but they are mostly ironed out now. The No. 99 is one of 18 cars on the lead lap.

"@99_RFRracing: The 99 crew has been working on adjustments most of the night, Carl is still a little tight into turn 4 - P13"

8:30 p.m. ET: Denny Hamlin took two tires during a pit stop under yellow and came out of pit road second. He's lost ground, but this was a strategic move. From Joe Gibbs Racing:

"@JoeGibbsRacing: Hamlin p8. Here’s the deal. We now know how 2 tires will work if we need to take them at the end of the race. #smart #nascar"

8:24 p.m. ET: After more than 100 laps, we have our first caution of the evening.

"@NASCARStats: Lap 124: First caution due to debris in Turn 2 #NASCAR"

8:21: ET: From David Caraviello (@dcaraviello): "My favorite moment at any #NASCAR track: Sunset at Darlington."

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8:17 p.m. ET: Another beauty from Zack Albert (@zack_albert):

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8:05 p.m. ET: NASCAR.com's Alan Cavanna is listening to Kurt Busch on the radio. The driver isn't happy.

"@CopaCavanna: 'We;ve crossed into a threshold of wicked loose. Pathetic loose' - @KurtBusch

8:03 p.m. ET: Jeff Gordon took time with a young fan prior to making his 700th career Cup start. NASCAR.com's Zack Albert (@zack_albert) sends this via Twitter:

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7:47 p.m. ET: Kyle Busch passed brother Kurt Busch for the lead at Darlington Raceway. You can follow the live leaderboard here.

7:36 p.m. ET: Kurt Busch gives up the lead to brother Kyle Busch in order to pit. And his lead was big.

From David Caraviello: "@dcaraviello: Kurt Busch had a 2.139-second lead on brother Kyle before coming into the pits."

7:26 p.m. ET: Kurt Busch content to let his driving do the talking, for now.

From Alan Cavanna: "@CopaCavanna: I've yet to hear @KurtBusch say anything on the radio. I'm beginning to think i have the wrong frequency. He's led since the green flag"

7:22 p.m. ET: Lots of official accounts on Twitter reporting radio chant. And most drivers say their cars are tight. For example, Greg Biffle (@163MTEAM), Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@MikeDavis88).

7:17 p.m. ET: Good information from the Joe Gibbs Racing Twitter account.

"@JoeGibbsRacing: 'Tight off' heard from our drivers. Means the car’s nose pushes to the wall, not turning ideally exiting turns. #NASCAR"

7:15 p.m. ET: NASCAR's official Twitter account (@NASCAR) tweets: "PHOTO: Feel the roar". We feel it.


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7:10 p.m. ET: History is at hand for Jeff Gordon, but the driver and his crew remain calm. Via Twitter:

"@JeffGordonWeb: Spotter @EddieDHondt - "Alright bud, here we go. Long night. Have a good one." #JeffGordon - "10-4, you too." #NASCAR #Team24

6:56 p.m. ET: Denny Hamlin has no back-up driver tonight. He's starting and plans to finish. His hometown track has a message:

Richmond Raceway (@RIRInsider): Good luck @dennyhamlin with your return tonight @TooToughToTame. #nascar #BojanglesSo500

6:53 p.m. ET: Craving information? Giving @NASCARStats a follow. Here's a gem from that account: "@NASCAR Stats: The #BojanglesSo500 is scheduled for 367 laps; 501.3 miles. Pit road speed is 45 mph and the fuel window is 60 laps #NASCAR"

6:41 p.m. ET: With Mother's Day tomorrow, it looks like a good number of drivers brought their moms to Darlington Raceway. Another good picture from Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup), this one of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his mother.

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6:36 p.m. ET: It's going to be hard for Danica Patrick to not see her pit sign -- it's going to light up. Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) with the image:

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6:30 p.m. ET: Looks like Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup) ran into one of the many Darlington dignitaries. Pro wrestling's Ric Flair is on hand to help introduce the drivers. Flair is hugely popular in his hometown of Charlotte, which is less than 100 miles from the track.

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6:27 p.m. ET: Speaking of Danica Patrick, she's in her back-up car after hitting the wall hard during practice Friday. | Watch the video here

6:25 p.m. ET: Interesting note from NASCAR.com's David Caraviello during driver introductions. Via Twitter: @dcaraviello: Huge cheers for Danica Patrick during pre-race driver introductions at Darlington Raceway. A few boos, but not many.

6:23 p.m. ET: Another component of NASCAR.com, that's live right now -- the race's live leaderboard.

6:14 p.m. ET: Darlington is seeping with history, including the closest finish in NASCAR history since the advent of electronic timing -- in fact, it was 20 years ago when Kurt Busch (on the pole tonight) and Ricky Craven battled to the start/finish line. | Watch the video here

6:06 p.m. ET: As the pre-race show gets into gear, here's a link that contains all of NASCAR.com's coverage from Darlington. Happy reading!

6:01 p.m. ET: The pre-race show is now live on FOX. Michael Waltrip (@mw55) is back in the booth full time after driving at Talladega last week.

5:58 p.m. ET: Still some time -- but not much -- to set your Fantasy Live lineup! Click here to do so. But first, watch this last-minute video update from Alan Cavanna.

 

5:51 p.m. ET: To tie the previous two posts together, Darlington Raceway has been a good track for Hendrick Motorsports drivers recently. Last year, Jimmie Johnson's win gave team owner Rick Hendrick his 200th career victory. This year, Jeff Gordon makes his 700th career Cup start. Those are big numbers, folks. And if you missed it, here is a great feature on Gordon by NASCAR.com's David Caraviello.

5:45 p.m. ET: Hey, who says pit crew guys aren't athletes? Check out Jimmie Johnson's crew stretching prior to the race, courtesy of NASCAR's official Twitter account, @NASCAR. For what it's worth, Johnson is the defending race champion.

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5:42 p.m. ET: Jeff Gordon is making his 700th career Sprint Cup start at one of the sport's most iconic tracks. He sounds ready, too. Via Twitter:

@JeffGordonWeb: Looking forward to 700th start @TooToughToTame. Fun & challenging track to race on. #Team24 is ready for battle.

5:28 p.m. ET: If you're on Twitter, consider these folks as must-follows. All of these NASCAR.com reporters are on the ground in Darlington.

Zack Albert (@zack_albert)
Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna)
David Caraviello (@dcaraviello)

5:23 p.m. ET: Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne are swapping strategy -- or something -- during the pre-race meeting. Thanks to NASCAR.com's Zack Albert (@zack_albert) for the photo.


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5:12 p.m. ET: Thanks for joining us for the Minute-by-Minute blog for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Tonight is the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Friday, May 11

10:28 p.m. ET: Kyle Busch got to hang out with Miss Coors Light before tonight's race. Maybe she was his good luck charm. (Having the pole didn't hurt, either.)

10:23 p.m. ET: Not the best of nights for Kyle Fowler.

 

9:51 p.m. ET: There's that patented Kyle Busch grin. Plenty to be happy about these days. Via @toyotaracing "VICTORY LANE! @KyleBusch celebrates in @TooToughToTame VL after winning his 5th @NASCAR_NNS race of 2013! pic.twitter.com/deugYiWjQn"Media preview

9:38 p.m. ET: Tough night for Travis Pastrana, who certainly earned a Darlington stripe but finished 28th. "Pastrana finishes 28th @TooToughToTame.pic.twitter.com/VALhlFahKZ" -@Pastrana60Team

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9:35 p.m. ET: Tune in for live post-race press conferences, including race-winner Kyle Busch. NASCAR.com/PressPass.

9:30 p.m. ET: Great tongue-in-cheek tweet from Michael McDowell (@Mc_Driver): "I think @JoeGibbsRacing should work on @NationwideNNS program. They are struggling as a group. Wow unreal congrats. Excited for RoadAmerica"

9:28 p.m. ET: Let the celebration begin! Via @KyleBuschMotorsports (@KBMteam)

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9:25 p.m. ET: Some great news on the Kyle Larson front, via the official Nationwide handle (@NASCAR_NNS): "Kyle Larson was the highest finishing rookie, capturing sixth in his first start at @TooToughToTame #NASCAR"

9:24 p.m. ET: Here's a happy Darrell Wallace Jr. (@BubbaWallace): "123 baby! How awesome is that for @JoeGibbsRacing! Huge win for those guys! Congrats to bossman! #nascar"

9:21 p.m. ET: NASCAR.com's David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) doing one heck of an Emerson, Lake & Palmer impression: "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, we're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside. #KBShow"

9:20 p.m. ET: Kyle Busch wins at Darlington, capping a sensational night for JGR: "Kyle Busch wins again for @MonsterEnergy! 1-2-3-5 for JGR!!! #NASCAR #Darlington" - @JoeGibbsRacing

9:17 p.m. ET: Down to the final five laps and Joe Gibbs Racing still has four cars in the top five. Unreal.

9:13 p.m. ET: David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) offers up an explanation of how Kyle Busch re-took the lead: "Kyle (Busch this time) gets Logano a little loose and scoots by to retake lead with 16 to go. Looking like another episode of the #KBShow."

9:11 p.m. ET: Miss the Trevor Bayne crash from earlier in the race? Check it out below.

9:08 p.m. ET: Check in with NASCAR.com's Alan Cavanna as he offers an update from Darlington in today's Up To Speed video.

9:06 p.m. ET: Race update from official Nationwide handle (@NASCAR_NNS): Different strategies playing out on pit road. Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth take four tires #NASCAR

9:01 p.m. ET: Quick take on the race from NASCAR.com's David Caraviello (@dcaraviello): "A clinic here tonight in Darlington. Gibbs cars running 1-4 and have a second lead on the rest of the field ..."

8:57 p.m. ET: Race update from official Nationwide handle (@NASCAR_NNS): "Lap 118: Green flag stops have begun. Leaders coming down pit road. Expect four tires and fuel #NASCAR"

8:54 p.m. ET: Kenseth is experiencing some looseness: "Pit stops will be coming shortly. Kenseth tells crew chief Matt Lucas that the car's getting loose." - @gamestopracing

8:49 p.m. ET: JR Motorsports (JRMotorsports) still looking great at Darlington: "50 laps to go at @TooToughToTame: @ReganSmith 3rd and @kaseykahne 4th."

8:44 p.m. ET: History bodes well for Joe Gibbs Racing tonight, according to the official Nationwide handle (@NASCAR_NNS): "Joe Gibbs Racing has 6 wins in the last 7 years and currently has all 4 drivers in the top 10 including race leader Kyle Busch #NASCAR"

8:41 p.m. ET: Race update from official Nationwide handle (@NASCAR_NNS): "Lap 79: Travis Pastrana serves a pass-through penalty due to a commitment line violation #NASCAR"

8:33 p.m. ET: Neat pit-road shot from Zack Albert (@zack_albert) of Kasey Kahne. "From qualifying, @kaseykahne checks behind him after his #BojanglesSo500 lap. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/777oJjKmcb"

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8:32 p.m. ET: Race update from official Nationwide handle (@NASCAR_NNS): "Lap 65: Matt Kenseth settles into the lead. He has 3 wins, 9 T5, and 12 T10 in 16 starts at @TooToughToTame #NASCAR"

8:28 p.m. ET: Potential bad news for Eric McClure, from his @HeftyReynolds14 PR team: "McClure just radioed either something is rubbing or motor starting to lay over. I hope it's nothing."

8:27 p.m. ET: Caution report from official Nationwide handle (@NASCAR_NNS): "Caution 3: Elliott Sadler spins in T2; laps 51-54; race total of 12 caution laps; Eric McClure is the beneficiary #NASCAR"

8:25 p.m. ET: Pit stop update from Nelson Piquet Jr. (@NelsonPiquet): "We came down for four tires and adjustments. After a great stop by the @WORXTools team we will start P14- PR"

8:20 p.m. ET: NASCAR.com's Zack Albert (@zack_albert) snapped this picture of Kyle Busch leading the pack: "@KyleBusch leads the @NASCAR_NNS field at the start @TooToughToTame. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/t651tq5enA"

8:15 p.m. ET: Caution report from official Nationwide handle (@NASCAR_NNS): "Caution 2 - Accident in T4 involving Eric McClure and JJ Yeley; laps 34-37; race total of 8 caution laps; Hal Martin is beneficiary #NASCAR"

8:12 p.m. ET: Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) also going through some looseness, but subsiding: "Caution lap 32. Larson p8. Started off really loose on last run but got better. #NASCAR -PR"

8:11 p.m. ET: Regan Smith experiencing some looseness right now, according to JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports): "@ReganSmith reports to crew chief Greg Ives he is snappy loose in traffic."

8:09 p.m. ET: Caution report from official Nationwide handle (@NASCAR_NNS): "Lap 32: Turn 4 accident involving Eric McClure brings out Caution 2 #NASCAR"

8:07 p.m. ET: JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) is looking to make a statement in back-to-back weeks: "@kaseykahne moves back into the top five at lap 30."

8:05 p.m. ET: Caution report from official Nationwide handle (@NASCAR_NNS): "Caution 1 - Trevor Bayne and Bryan Silas accident in T1; laps 24-27; 4 total laps of caution; Kyle Fowler is the beneficiary #NASCAR"

8:03 p.m. ET: Quick update from Sprint Cup driver Juan Pablo Montoya (@jpmontoya): "Happy with the result for how early we ran. P12 start tomorrow. Watching the nationwide race."

8 p.m. ET: Caution report from official Nationwide handle (@NASCAR_NNS): "Lap 22 - Bryan Silas accident brings out first caution of the night #NASCAR"

7:58 p.m. ET: Update from one of Matt Kenseth's sponors, Game Stop Racing (@gamestropracing): "No report from Kenseth yet as to the car's handling, but he's currently running third."

7:55 p.m. ET: Good stuff from RC Racing (@RCRacing): "Keep an eye on Turn 2 tonight @TooToughToTame for some action...drivers get comfy and end w/ a souvenir stripe. You heard it here first. ;)"

7:49 p.m. ET: Reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) has some kind words to say about this evening's paint schemes: "Holy yellow cars! @NASCAR_NNS".

7:46 p.m. ET: And they're off! Green flag.

7:38 p.m. ET: Now we have Gordon Logan, Founder & CEO, Sport Clips, Inc. and Richard Freiburghouse of Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation offering up the most famous words in motorsports.

7:31 p.m. ET: That's Mark Jones, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Darlington giving the invocation, followed by Master Sergeant Steven David with the SC Air National Guard with the National Anthem.

7:27 p.m. ET: Just about to get underway for what is sure to be an exciting race at Darlington Raceway.

6:40 p.m. ET: Remember to stick around right here for tonight's Nationwide Series event. Race gets underway at 7:30 p.m. ET.

6:31 p.m. ET: Nice words from Jimmie Johnson on Kurt Busch's Indy speed test, via NASCAR.com's David Caraviello (@dcaraviello): "JJ on Kurt's speed in Indy test: 'Glad a #NASCAR driver has gotten chance to get in good equipment over there and show what we can do.'"

6:25 p.m. ET: Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson are talking to the media right now, while pole-winner Kurt Busch will be in shortly after. Watch the stream here.

6:20 p.m. ET: What a potentially great story we have on our hands here -- Kurt Busch winning the pole 10 years after he and Ricky Craven had one of the most memorable finishes in NASCAR history when Craven overtook a young Busch by .002 seconds. Let's see if he can follow through with a victory tomorrow.

6:16 p.m. ET: Denny Hamlin had some interesting things to say during his Press Pass segment. Definitely worth a look.

6:11 p.m. ET: In case you missed GarageCam earlier, check out a 'Best Of' segment below.

6:08 p.m. ET: We have a pair of new names atop the leaderboard now, with Kurt Busch holding the provisional pole, followed by Jimmie Johnson.

5:49 p.m. ET: Current top five on the leaderboard: Kahne, Truex, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Juan Pablo Montoya.

5:41 p.m. ET: Despite being knocked off the provisional pole, Truex (@MartinTruexJr56) is still quite pleased with his car: "What a race car the boys gave me,Wish we could have went out later! Ready to race tomorrow night @TooToughToTame @MWRteam @napaknowhow

5:31 p.m. ET: This wouldn't be Kahne's first go-around sitting atop the pole at Darlington, if his speed holds true. "Kahne is on provisional #CoorsLight Pole for #BojanglesSo500 at @TooToughToTame. He's won 4 poles here & has avg starting pos of 8.4 #NASCAR" via @NASCARStats.

5:27 p.m. ET: Kasey Kahne moves ahead of Truex, sneaking in just under seven hundreths of a second faster at 27.208 seconds.

5:25 p.m. ET: Great stat from NASCAR Stats (@NASCARStats) -- "Did you know that 36 of the 109 races at @TooToughToTame have been won by drivers on the front row? #NASCAR"

5:22 p.m. ET: Just under 15 minutes into NSCS qualifying here and Martin Truex Jr. is leading, with a top speed of 180.284 mph. Plenty of drivers left, though.

4:55 p.m. ET: Stay tuned as our busy day continues -- Sprint Cup Series qualifying begins at 5:10 p.m., broadcast on SPEED. Follow our live leaderboard here.

4:53 p.m. ET: For those keeping score at home, that's four cars in the front of the pack to start the race for Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch, Sadler, Kenseth, Vickers (1-4).

4:51 p.m. ET: Eric McClure (@ericmcclure) wasn't too pleased with his qualifying run, He placed 37th. He said via Twitter: "That was disappointing. Way too free and not what we hoped 4. Much faster in race mode. Hoping/expect 2 get back to where we were. #no quit".

4:49 p.m. ET: And Kyle Busch is your Nationwide pole-winner! He'll start alongside Elliott Sadler, followed by Brian Vickers and Justin Allgaier.

4:46 p.m. ET: Chase Elliott (@chaseelliott) is a big fan of Matt Kenseth's, apparently. He says: "Matt gets with it! #NNSQualifying". Kenseth is currently sixth on the leaderboard.

4:40 p.m. ET: Kyle Busch overtakes Allgaier atop the leaderboard with just a handful of drivers left in Nationwide qualifying.

4:37 p.m. ET: Landon Cassill (@landoncassill) offering an expert opinion on some sounds emanting from the car of Brian Scott (@bscottracing): "Sounded like @bscottracing's exhaust was loose."

4:31 p.m. ET: Ten cars to go in Nationwide qualifying. Justin Allgaier currently sits atop the leaderboard. Follow along here.

4:17 p.m. ET: Almirola says he and his team are not as surprised as everyone else is that his No. 43 car is eighth in points this deep into the season.

4:15 p.m. ET: Aric Almirola is looking for a fifth straight top-10 finish this weekend, and he's in the media center right now fielding questions. Watch the live stream here.

3:55 p.m. ET: Jeff Gordon is in the media center and taking questions about his 700th career Cup start, to come Saturday. Watch the live stream here.

3:44 p.m. ET: Denny Hamlin said he used to love watching Jeff Gordon get wrecked when he was younger. Up next in the media center: Jeff Gordon himself! Watch the live stream here.

3:35 p.m. ET: Denny Hamlin just said he has no back-up plan -- he's driving the entire race Saturday. Watch the live stream here.

3:26 p.m. ET: Denny Hamlin is on his way to the media center at Darlington. Watch the live stream here at 3:30.

3 p.m. ET: Practice is officially over. Juan Pablo Montoya posted the fastest time of the second session. Check back on this page to see updated results.

2:42 p.m. ET: Kurt Busch currently leads the field in the second practice. He's the first driver of the day to break 28 seconds on a lap (his current fastest time: 27.975 seconds). | NASCAR-focused Busch enjoys IndyCar test

2:36 p.m. ET: The final Sprint Cup Series practice is underway! Follow along here.

2:33 p.m. ET: Playing off the sponsorship on the hood of his No. 15 Toyota, Clint Bowyer is having a good time. Via Twitter: "@ClintBowyer: The ole Chicken Coupe is fast... Feathers flying out the windows, having ourselves a Big Time!!!"

2:21 p.m. ET: More good stuff from the garage, courtesy of NASCAR.com's Zack Albert (@zack_albert); easy to see that Jeff Gordon's No. 24 didn't incur nearly as much damage as Danica Patrick's No. 10 did in the first session.

 

1:55 p.m. ET: Now we see why Danica Patrick is headed to a back-up car. Watch below to see how hard she hit the wall:

 

 

1:51 p.m. ET: First Sprint Cup practice is over. Paul Menard led virtually the entire way. Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Carl Edwards comprised the top five. Get full practice results here.

1:45 p.m. ET: And the first images from Danica's meeting the well have surfaced. Here's a nice shot from Rick Henry (@RickHenry10), sports director for a South Carolina television station:

 

1:17 p.m. ET: NASCAR.com writer David Caraviello chimes in on Danica's day via Twitter (@dcaraviello): "Yep. Backup No. 10 coming out."

1:09 p.m. ET: Danica Patrick has smacked the wall pretty hard. From Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) "Danica just smacked the wall. Checking on a back-up now. She was 31st fastest in practice"

1 p.m. ET: Thirty minutes remain in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, and pictures of cars with the classic Darlington stripe are starting to come in. Here's one on Greg Biffle's No. 16 Ford, as tweeted out by his team (@163MTEAM):

 

12:54 p.m. ET: Here's some news from the Nationwide Series, as announced by Eric McClure (@ericmcclure) on Twitter: "Changing engine on @HeftyReynolds14 Camry. But feel like our car was very respectable in race runs. Looking forward to the race."

McClure was 28th in the first practice.

12:43 p.m. ET: Kyle Larson had the sixth-fastest time during Nationwide Series practice. Apparently, it wore him out. From Twitter: @KyleLarsonRacin: "Practice went well. Now time to take a nap"

12:36 p.m. ET: Jeff Burton's car is getting some love today. First, Burton's people (@RCR31JeffBurton) tweeted out this photo of the No. 31 sparking in the sun. And NASCAR.com's Zack Albert (@zack_albert) added the image below on his Twitter account.

Noon ET: We're a quarter of the way through the first Sprint Cup Series practice, and Paul Menard has dominated. The driver's top speed is 173.963 mph; he's the only driver to crack 173 mph.

Follow the live leaderboard here.

11:47 a.m. ET: In case you missed it earlier, check out Jimmie Johnson's interview from this morning. Five-Time is always a good listen.

11:38 a.m. ET: In the garage before practice began, Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) snapped another picture of a new paint scheme. This time, he caught Clint Bowyer's crew making some finishing touches.

 

11:31 a.m. ET: And the first Sprint Cup Series practice is green. Drivers have a two-hour window for the first practice. Follow the live leaderboard here.

11:17 a.m. ET: Looks like Brian Vickers (@BrianLVickers) is pleased with his showing in practice. On Twitter: "Car is pretty good here @tootoughtotame. Love this place. Signing at 2PM. Happy Birthday to my sister Melissa!"

Full practice results are available here.

11:11 a.m. ET: We told you it was a jam-packed day. Sprint Cup Series practice is underway in 20 minutes. You can follow along here.

11:01 a.m. ET: Alan Cavanna is filling in as host for GarageCam this week. Check it out! | Live GarageCam

10:56 a.m. ET: Good observation from NASCAR.com's Zack Albert (@zack_albert): @BrianLVickers led @NASCAR_NNS practice, but @KyleLarsonRacin had best 10-lap average @TooToughToTame. #NASCAR

10:47 a.m. ET: Last call! Jimmie Johnson is taking questions from the media. Watch it here.

10:37 a.m. ET: Another 20(ish)-minute warning. GarageCam will be streamed live at 11 a.m. ET. Watch it here.

10:25 a.m. ET: Twenty-minute warning: Jimmie Johnson's interview will be streamed live. Watch it here.

10:01 a.m. ET: NASCAR.com's Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) is worth a follow -- he's on the ground in Darlington and tweeting images from the garage. Here's one of the new paint schemes he likes. (You can see more paint schemes in this week's Paint scheme preview).

 

9:51 a.m ET: Fresh off his first top-10 since 2010, it appears Scott Speed is getting a late start to the race track. At least he tweeted out a cool picture, too. From the driver (@scottspeed): "Haven't been up early enough to see that in a while! Beautiful sunrise this morning in route to @tootufftotame" | See his photo here

9:40 a.m. ET: The lone Nationwide Series practice is underway and lasts until 10:30 a.m. ET. Follow live here.

9:39 a.m. ET: Good morning, and welcome to the Minute-by-Minute blog for Darlington Raceway. We've got a busy day ahead with NASCAR Nationwide Series practice and qualifying, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices and qualifying and,finally, the VFW Sport Clip Help a Hero 200 later this evening,

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