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Darlington Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Throwback weekend, Jones Boy and missing pit road

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NASCAR’s throwback weekend — what’s not to like? We’ve got a tough, historic track, a long Labor Day weekend, teams paying homage to racing history, Ryan Blaney growing a mustache

Well, let’s just look at what was tubular and what was hellacious. I think I’m using those words correctly.

Thumbs Up: That Jones Boy

Legendary announcer Ken Squier took over lead commentary duties for a brief period during Stage 2 at Darlington, leaving viewers with memorable quotes — including referring to Erik Jones as simply “that Jones boy” multiple times.

As it turns out, that Jones boy was awfully competitive for the third week in a row, finishing in fifth position. Jones was the first rookie to score a top-five finish at Darlington since Kasey Kahne finished fifth in 2004. Coincidentally, Jones’ No. 77 throwback paint scheme honored NASCAR’s top rookies over the years. Perhaps that Jones Boy will find himself on such a paint scheme someday when we’re racing laser beam-shooting space robot cars in 2050.

Thumbs up to that Jones boy for earning three consecutive top-five finishes.

(A bonus thumbs-up for Jones’ retro mullet — that’s a throwback thing, right? Please say yes.)

Thumbs Down: Missing Pit Road

There must be nothing more frustrating than looking like you’re going to win the race, only to make a driver error during crunch time. Think about it — all the preparation of building a fast race car, then racing nearly 500 miles at one of the toughest tracks in NASCAR without any major problems, until you miss pit road on the final stop of the race, costing tons of unnecessary time.  

WATCH:

Hamlin makes costly pit-road error, loses lead

Surely, Denny Hamlin’s simple misjudgment made his heart sink.

Thumbs down for missing pit road when everything’s on the line — right?

Thumbs Up: …Making up for Missing Pit Road

Of course, Hamlin’s pit road miscue wasn’t enough for the No. 11 team to call it a night. Hamlin drove his wheels off (no, not referring to his crew chief Mike Wheeler — and, no, not in the way things went for Martin Truex Jr. before Hamlin passed him) to recover from his mistake and win the Bojangles’ Southern 500 for the second time in his career.

WATCH:

Exhilarating Moments: Hamlin overtakes Truex to win Southern 500

Thumbs Down: Throwback Party Poopers 

NASCAR’s throwback weekend at Darlington is a fun spectacle when it comes to teams running retro paint schemes on their race cars. Almost every team participates in this new-ish tradition by racing with an old school-style paint scheme.

And, yes, that’s almost every team.

Thumbs down to the party poopers who didn’t or couldn’t get in on the fun. There aren’t many, and I won’t shame them by name, but they know who they are. It’s like going to an 80’s-themed party and dressing up in your normal clothes. Not cool!

Biggest Thumbs Up of the Week: NASCAR Throwback Weekend

Racing in Darlington’s Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend is already an incredible tradition, but the awesomeness is magnified when everybody embraces the throwback spirit of commemorating NASCAR’s rich past.

From retro-themed paint schemes to legendary broadcasters to drivers dressing the part themselves, it’s a fun and memorable weekend — a weekend deserving of this week’s biggest thumbs up of the week.

Until next time we throw back, Darlington.

Caption this! #NASCARThrowback

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