Stay updated with everything happening at the track 'Too Tough to Tame' RELATED: Check out NASCAR.com's new Social Drive Hey fans, there's plenty going on at Darlington Raceway this weekend and while many of you likely have Monday off for Labor Day observance -- there's a good chance you're stuck behind a desk this Friday morning and afternoon. Don't worry, NASCAR.com has you covered with our running blog of everything happening at the "Lady in Black", so keep this tab open on your browser and keep that refresh button handy. Just remember to minimize your browser when your boss walks by -- unless, of course, he or she is a NASCAR fan, too. 5:53 p.m. ET: Thanks for following along today. Here's Zack Albert with tonight's tune-in alert via his trusty typewriter. Tune-in alert @TooToughToTame . #NASCAR #NASCARthrowback #TraditionReturns pic.twitter.com/QDxhy3xuPn — Zack Albert (@zack_albert) September 4, 2015 5:35 p.m. ET: Tough break for 'Rowdy'. Backup car coming out of the hauler for @KyleBusch after tagging the wall w primary car in final practice #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/pLt1O5ydMx — Kyle Rickey (@KyleRRickey) September 4, 2015 5:03 p.m ET: Not getting enough attention for how good his paint scheme looks? 'Smoke'. . @TonyStewart brings his car in for adjustments during final practice @TooToughToTame . #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/TAcvf5o0gW — Motor Racing Network (@MRNRadio) September 4, 2015 4:54 p.m. ET: Swag? Check. Throwback scheme ✔️ Throwback firesuit ✔️ Throwback shoes ✔️ @DaleJr does Cale Yarborough right. #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/PbL1NVxsEZ — Motor Racing Network (@MRNRadio) September 4, 2015 4:45 p.m. ET: There's always time for the fans. . @KyleBusch of @JoeGibbsRacing signs for fans before @TooToughToTame final practice. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/KvGT5GAVyF — Zack Albert (@zack_albert) September 4, 2015 4:44 p.m. ET: Problems for the 88 and 55. Driveshaft change for @dalejr , who complained earlier of a bad vibration. @DavidRagan had a wall-banger. @TooToughToTame — tom jensen (@tomjensen100) September 4, 2015 4:35 p.m: ET: We're rolling for final practice. Get over to NBCSN. L8tr, dudes. #BojanglesSo500 pic.twitter.com/3oyv4ZP68Q — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 4, 2015 4:16 p.m. ET: Swoon, indeed. One word: Swoon. #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/xdaM7sTpov — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 4, 2015 4:12 p.m. ET: Every aspect of #NASCARthrowback has been strong so far. Seriously. The #NASCARthrowback hat game is strong so far. #TraditionReturns pic.twitter.com/TiPePcH6pH — Darlington Raceway (@TooToughToTame) September 4, 2015 4:07 p.m. ET: There were tons of awesome throwback images from Darlington on Friday. Here are some of the greatest. 3:58 p.m. ET: Sam Bass is one of the best. #NASCARthrowback @TooToughToTame http://t.co/TueDdY0Nj9 pic.twitter.com/wxaiSFYF22 — Sam Bass (@sambassartist) September 4, 2015 3:43 p.m. ET: What he said. We miss you, Buddy Baker. Nice tribute by @MWRteam and @ClintBowyer @TooToughToTame pic.twitter.com/7zcgnI7dVN — tom jensen (@tomjensen100) September 4, 2015 3:23 p.m. ET: Got questions about the new digital dashboard? Of course you do. Here are some answers. 3:17 p.m. ET: Yes, yes they are. Are you following @NASCAR on @instagram ??? Because they're crushing it with #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/yoL1fc6rsM — Jason Christley (@jay_christley) September 4, 2015 2:55 p.m. ET: And you thought Zack Albert was kidding. Now this is old school. @zack_albert #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/PgQCaZWkGr — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) September 4, 2015 2:38 p.m. ET: Congrats, Bill Elliott . Awesome. Million Dollar. Tonight @BillElliott9 gets another name: NMPA Hall of Famer. #TraditionReturns pic.twitter.com/uikM8ndx2H — Darlington Raceway (@TooToughToTame) September 4, 2015 2:34 p.m. ET: Raise your hand if you think it'd be hilarious if Owen had a mustache, too. Had a visitor come by in his @Target hat pic.twitter.com/oCTQXQOf0v — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) September 4, 2015 2:27 p.m. ET: Speaking of which -- Bill Elliott is about to address the media at 2:30 p.m. ET. Head on over to Press Pass to watch. But then come right back here. 2:26 p.m ET: Awesome. One Hall of Famer and one future one... @JeffGordonWeb and @billelliott9 catch up @TooToughToTame #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/P5yBtlehlo — Motor Racing Network (@MRNRadio) September 4, 2015 2:21 p.m. ET: Brad isn't typically known for siding with the popular opinion, but he isn't alone here. Just look at it. I like @KyleLarsonRacin scheme the best. Gave me chills seeing it today as it was my favorite car growing up. https://t.co/6QV8czboOO — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) September 4, 2015 2:19 p.m. ET: Color me jealous. Before @joeylogano took off for @TooToughToTame he passed out some throwback gear to #RaceHub crew. #Hublove pic.twitter.com/OpQzgGEXRT — Danielle Trotta (@DanielleTrotta) September 4, 2015 2:12 p.m. ET: Kyle Busch 's double-duty gets off to a good start. His No. 54 Toyota topped XFINITY Series practice. Read more and get full practice results here. 2:10 p.m. ET: Keselowski has a habit of putting top-five cars in Victory Lane. Keep an eye on him this weekend. Showing decent speed so far @TooToughToTame Anxious to see how it all plays out with one more practice session to find more. top-5 car — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) September 4, 2015 2:04 p.m. ET: Sunday will mark Jeff Gordon 's last dance with the "Lady in Black". Darlington gives Jeff Gordon a painting of all his record 7 wins here. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/F27Jqjseeh — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) September 4, 2015 2:02 p.m. ET: Well put, Kyle. Well put. It's hot as today!! Cup car is a handful. Not sure what's going on in that. Xfinity car is extremely loose. Been workin hard today. — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) September 4, 2015 1:50 p.m. ET: Greg Biffle ruled opening Cup practice. Get full practice speeds and more in this recap. 1:33 p.m. ET: Ray Evernham knows a little something about Darlington , so he gave Dale Earnhardt Jr . some tips. Read more here. 12:41 p.m. ET: Okay, I take it back. Sorry, Aric Almirola . Zack Albert wins #NASCARThrowback. Taking the media center old-school @TooToughToTame . #NASCAR #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/xHUtyMzm3V — Zack Albert (@zack_albert) September 4, 2015 12:28 p.m. ET: Keelan Harvick: Beer Pong aficianado. Read more in this week's Eight Tweets You Might Have Missed . 11:53 p.m. ET: Here's a look at that Austin Dillon wreck . Dillon tags the wall early at Darlington 11:48 p.m. ET: Something to keep in mind for any of you crew chiefs reading this blog. There's 3 kinds of grip, mechanical, aero, and tires, if you change the tires to compliment the aero package, they off set each other! — Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) September 4, 2015 11:41 a.m. ET: This is about as #NASCARThrowback as it gets. Oh my pic.twitter.com/pESuLoMDx4 — Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) September 4, 2015 11:40 a.m. ET: Oh yes. Oh my pic.twitter.com/pESuLoMDx4 — Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) September 4, 2015 11:27 p.m. ET: Wait a second, Kurt Busch ... is that a bell-bottomed firesuit? . @KurtBusch takes a break during first practice. #AskMRN pic.twitter.com/DQ3voQXrdh — Motor Racing Network (@MRNRadio) September 4, 2015 Darlington Stripe ✔️ pic.twitter.com/5u8RRu3avM — RCR (@RCRracing) September 4, 2015 And the first Darlington Stripe goes to... @austindillon3 . #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/WOQy0dxLNX — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 4, 2015 11:05 a.m. ET: Aric Almirola wins throwback weekend. . @aric_almirola sporting a fu manchu mustache at @TooToughToTame ala "The King" Richard Petty. @RPMotorsports #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/oXQK5DVgdx — Jay W. Pennell (@jaywpennell) September 4, 2015 10:40 a.m. ET: A little bit of the past, a little bit of the future on display at Darlington . Darlington is honoring the past, but technology is #NASCAR 's future. Welcome the digital dash: http://t.co/SuP7Vrtavu pic.twitter.com/gPgKAV07nK — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 4, 2015 10:35 a.m. ET: Some news for you this morning. Leavine Family Racing announced they have parted ways with crew chief Wally Rogers. Read more here . 10:27 a.m. ET: Drivers are really getting into this whole throwback thing. Cool hat, Kes. . @keselowski has one of those old-school hats to go with his paint scheme. #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/51Xe6NhGf6 — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) September 4, 2015 10:15 a.m. ET: Yup. This is awesome. Welcome to the '70s, sports fans. #NASCARthrowback pic.twitter.com/TVvZb5Q9tS — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 4, 2015 10:11 a.m. ET: Darlington is certainly known for its close finishes, but we might need more than a Polaroid. Photo finish technology to be implemented this weekend. https://t.co/V5RR1RwyDw — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 4, 2015 10:07 a.m. ET: Throwback schemes might look cool, but don't be fooled -- they certainly aren't on the inside. 4 hours of practice today. Mid 90 degree temps. Cockpit temps nearing 130 degrees. We gonna earn it today boys and girls. @TooToughToTame — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 4, 2015
At least 10 teams expected at track Wednesday RELATED: Buy tickets for Darlington At least 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams are expected to participate in a one-day open team test Wednesday at Darlington Raceway . The historic 1.366-mile track, the first paved speedway to feature NASCAR competition, will host the Bojangles' Southern 500 Sprint Cup Series race Sunday, Sept. 6. Drivers scheduled to take part in this week's test are: Aric Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ), Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing ), Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports ), Joey Logano ( Team Penske ), Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ). The test is scheduled to run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET. ( UPDATE: End time pushed up to 4:45 p.m. ET because of expected showers.) Biffle, Bowyer, McMurray and Newman will also be on hand Tuesday for a single-day Goodyear tire test. "This is a great, free opportunity for fans to watch NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams race around our famed oval for the first time in nearly 14 months," track president Chip Wile said. "This will be the only time the teams and drivers will be able to see Darlington before the series returns on Labor Day weekend." The Sprint Cup Series hasn't visited Darlington since April of 2014. An offseason schedule change moved the event back to the holiday weekend, a spot it held on the schedule for more than 50 years. The open test will be the seventh of the season. Future single-day tests are scheduled for Richmond International Raceway , Chicagoland Speedway , Bristol Motor Speedway , Homestead-Miami Speedway , Kansas Speedway , Phoenix International Raceway and Auto Club Speedway . Nearly all of the tests follow one- or two-day Goodyear tire tests at the individual tracks. The Richmond team test, scheduled for June 17, is a recent addition. Meanwhile, a two-day Goodyear tire test at Bristol was changed to a single-day open team test (July 30). NASCAR banned private team testing for 2015, developing the National Series Master Unified Test Schedule instead to provide teams an opportunity to work with this season's new rules package. Only one team from each Sprint Cup organization is allowed to participate in the open team tests. The four teams taking part in the Goodyear portion are the only ones from their organizations allowed to participate in the open test, if they choose. "With the Bojangles' Southern 500 being the second-to-last race before the Chase cutoff, I'm sure the teams will be looking for a little something extra to get to … Victory Lane and potentially secure a Chase berth before times runs out," Wile said. Two sections of the Colvin Grandstands, located on the backstretch, will be open to fans. Kevin Harvick , 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, is the defending winner of the Bojangles' Southern 500 . In addition to the Sprint Cup race, Darlington Raceway will also host the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race Saturday, Sept. 5. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: Complete Darlington schedule " Darlington's throwback schemes Officials with Darlington Raceway and International Speedway Corp., which owns the South Carolina facility, should be congratulated for their efforts leading into this weekend's Bojangles' Southern 500 .The retro-themed weekend has been the talk of NASCAR in recent months, garnering more attention than any event outside of the season-opening Daytona 500 back in February. Copious amounts of content -- print, Internet and broadcast -- have been devoted to this weekend's race. And rightfully so. The fact that the program coincides with the return of the historic event to the Labor Day weekend is icing on the cake. When the seed for the throwback plan was planted, there was no indication that this year's race would be return to its long-held September date -- the 2015 schedule wasn't officially announced until August of '14, and track officials weren't privy to potential changes much earlier than that. After a one-year dalliance with a November stop in 2004, the 500 had a nine-year run on Mother's Day weekend in May where it did well. Last year's race was held in April in yet another schedule shuffle. But the Southern 500 in April or May is not the Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. "Having the extra time from last April until Labor Day this year has been really helpful because truly it's just a small group of people that have put this together," Chip Wile, President of Darlington Raceway , said recently. "And it's been a learning process but it's been really fun." The platform is the kickoff of what Wile describes as a five-year plan to revitalize the track’s lone NASCAR race weekend, which includes Saturday's XFINITY Series race as well as Sunday's Sprint Cup event. For decades, the Southern 500 was considered one of the most difficult races on the series' circuit. The track's unusual shape -- a 1.336-mile layout with distinct differences between Turns 1-2 and 3-4 -- favors no particular driving style. Winners are often determined by a combination of skill and good fortune. The oppressive heat and humidity that hung over the track nearly every September race weekend took its toll as well -- the list of drivers that required relief at some point is a lengthy one. That difficulty, combined with the fact that the track is the oldest paved speedway to host NASCAR events (it opened in 1950), earned Darlington a lofty position in NASCAR's early years. The race is still considered one of NASCAR's crown jewel events -- along with the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 . But the praise for this weekend's program shouldn't stop with track officials. Teams have bought into the idea wholeheartedly, developing amazing throwback paint schemes, many of which honor some of the sport's legendary drivers and organizations. Sponsors and various stakeholders, such as Goodyear, have gotten on board. Broadcast teams will incorporate the throwback platform into their programming. It's been a win-win situation for everyone involved. It also couldn't have come at a better time. Wile and his group wanted to make his track's lone Sprint Cup race stand out above the crowd, and it certainly seems as if that has been accomplished. Darlington isn't the only track that's been able to develop an idea that resonates with those in the sport as well as those in the stands. Not as large in scope but certainly just as entertaining, the annual night race at Bristol Motor Speedway in August generates interest not only for the competition on the track, but its pre-race show is perhaps the most popular on the schedule. Anchoring the program are drivers entering the track to music they have chosen and the Motor Racing Outreach effort that has children of drivers and other personnel singing the National Anthem (an idea generated by former track president Jeff Byrd). The product on the track remains of primary importance, and fortunately that's been a constant at Darlington -- the racing there rarely fails to excite and entertain. And if there's a bit of a history lesson included, so much the better. "I really love the history and the heritage of the sport," former championship-winning crew chief Ray Evernham said. "I think it's really important if we're going to bring new fans, younger fans, that demographic, they've got to understand why. When you start telling some of the history and the tradition, and showing that, I think it gets people really interested. "Now they understand why people are so passionate about it or why somebody will come sit in the same seat for 50 years or why we work so hard on these cars. I think it's really important that we go back and show the steps that it took to get here in order to engage new fans." And there's no better place or time than Darlington Raceway . On Labor Day weekend.
RELATED: Darlington throwback schemes " Fired up for throwback race It's 1.366 miles of character-testing asphalt; a track so demanding it required not one nickname, but two. The Lady in Black. Too Tough to Tame. Welcome to Darlington Raceway , host for six and a half decades of one of the most anticipated, most difficult events on the NASCAR schedule. The Bojangles' Southern 500 returns to what many believe is its rightful place on the Sprint Cup Series schedule, Labor Day weekend, with history in tow. That history will be on display as the track and various teams adhere to a throwback theme, part of a five-year program that launches this weekend. "I remember that 1968 Southern win that was on the old (layout); I wouldn't take anything for that win and then went on to win five Southern 500s," NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Cale Yarborough said recently. "I just have so many fond memories of racing here. Even though I had rather win here than anywhere else -- because it's home, it's the first superspeedway -- I absolutely hated to drive this place. It was just so tough to drive. But I still would rather win here than anywhere." Yarborough, a three-time champion and member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, hails from nearby Timmonsville, South Carolina. He made his first Darlington start in 1957 as a teenager. More than 20 years later, he became the first driver to win five Southern 500 titles. "I was definitely in over my head," Yarborough said of that first start, which came with car owner Bob Weatherly. "But I came back and won five times and that record stood for 30 years. When Jeff Gordon tied my record (in 2002), I told him, 'Jeff, you've got a long way to go son. Because you never won one on that old Darlington race track.' "This is a unique place. There's not another one like it. I think any driver would love to have a win at Darlington on his resume." • • • Fast Fact I: In 1965, Ned Jarrett won the Southern 500 by a whopping 14 laps, the largest margin of victory ever recorded in NASCAR's premier series. • • • The story goes that after purchasing the land for the track, owner Harold Brasington was instructed that he wasn't to disturb a nearby minnow pond when constructing NASCAR's first paved speedway. What resulted was a layout that features two vastly different ends of the facility, giving the track a somewhat egg-shaped appearance. The unique design, along with the application of what was known as "bear grease," resulted in yet another piece of NASCAR terminology -- the Darlington stripe. Cars would often ricochet off the wall as they skirted along the very edge of the outside racing groove. Because of laws that restricted certain types of commerce on Sunday, the Southern 500 was contested on Labor Day, the first Monday of September, annually from 1950 through 1983. "I guess what they had in South Carolina at the time were what they called Blue laws. We couldn't run on Sunday," Dale Inman, winner of seven championships as a crew chief for Richard Petty and eight championships overall, said. "We'd practice three or four days, practice on Saturday and then we didn't do anything on Sunday. Then we'd come back and run Labor Day. "Golly, while we were gone they'd paint the track in bear grease, so when we started the race it was just a different world for awhile." The appeal was obvious. Not only was Darlington the first big paved track in NASCAR's realm, but the purse in the early years was equally impressive as well. "The first time I went there I think was 1951," Inman said. "Lord, in those years they started them three abreast. They didn't use the banking, or very few used it. It was just unheard of at that time." Petty won three times at Darlington , including the 1967 Southern 500. But the race that stands out in Inman's mind came three years later in the spring event. The track, already known as one of the most treacherous on the circuit, lived up to its billing when Petty's blue No. 43 Plymouth came off Turn 4, broke loose and struck the inside pit wall with such force that it destroyed the concrete barrier. Petty's car flipped violently before coming to rest on its roof. "When we got to him, (the car) was ... in the middle of the race track and cars were still going by on both sides," Inman said. "We unhooked the seatbelt, he kind of came down pretty hard on the roof because he was laying upside down. "Until he groaned we didn't think he was still with us. But he did groan so we knew he was OK. The big thing was his shoulder was out of place. It knocked him out." Darlington favored no one. Not even NASCAR's soon to be King. • • • Fast Fact II: In 1976, David Pearson won NASCAR's version of the Triple Crown by capturing the Daytona 500 , the World 600 and Southern 500. • • • "Bear grease" is no longer a part of track preparation, but the Darlington stripe remains very much in evidence. When track officials moved the start/finish line to what had previously been the backstretch in 1997, the difficulty in navigating the cantankerous old circuit remained unchanged. Turn 1 didn't become any easier simply because it was now Turn 3. "You don't go to race tracks ... going, 'Man, I've got to beat this track,' " Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . said. "The track's not even a factor, not even a part of the conversation. ... But when you go to Darlington , the track is a competitor. The track becomes as big of a challenge as trying to beat the next guy in front of you or outrunning your peers. " Darlington is one of the few ovals that can reach out and grab you if you're not paying attention or being careful. Most of the tracks we go to you won't really run into the wall or spin out unless you have a failure on the car. Here, if you don't watch every corner, every little thing you do ... that challenge of it, how hard it is and the odds are so bad to come here and get a win, you're up against so much more. I think that's what adds to the appreciation for what it means to win here." • • • Fast Fact III: The movie "Days of Thunder" starring Tom Cruise debuts in 1990. Cruise's character, Cole Trickle, scores his first NASCAR win at Darlington Raceway . Naturally. • • • At the close of the 1984 season, then series sponsor RJ Reynolds, through its Winston brand, unveiled what was known as the Winston Million, a program that offered a $1 million bonus to any driver winning three of the series "Big Four" events -- the Daytona 500 , the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway , the Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500. Previously, only two drivers had won three of the four races in a single season -- LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969) and Pearson (1976). In the first year of the Winston Million program, Bill Elliott came to Darlington having won two of the first three, at Daytona and Talladega. In the Southern 500, the future Hall of Famer had to nimbly avoid a spin by Dale Earnhardt and a smoking Yarborough entry in the latter stages of the race to seal the victory. It was a career-defining moment for the Dawsonville, Georgia native, earning him the nickname "Million Dollar Bill." It wasn't until 1997 before another driver collected the bonus, again with a victory in the Southern 500. Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon held off a tremendous charge by Jeff Burton in the final two laps to pocket the bonus in the final year of the program. • • • Fast Fact IV : Johnny Mantz won only one NASCAR premier series event -- the inaugural Southern 500 held Sept. 4, 1950. The race featured a 75-car starting lineup and took more than six hours to complete. • • • Former crew chief Ray Evernham guided Gordon to four consecutive Southern 500 wins from 1995 through 1998. The most memorable win? "The million dollar win," Evernham said without hesitation. "Because we did not have a car to win that day. "We won that as a team and driver; we kept working on the car. I think we made 16 pit stops that day. "The car was basically destroyed -- front clip bent, rear clip bent, door bars ... we just stayed after it and won that race and we really shouldn't have. But we did." Evernham won 47 races as a crew chief for Gordon, with victories coming at nearly every stop on the schedule, including Daytona, Charlotte and Indianapolis. But Darlington , he said, holds a special place. "I love this place," he said. "It's still my favorite track. It challenged me. I could make a difference as a chassis person -- that's different from being a crew chief. "I loved making the car handle. The springs, the shocks, getting all that stuff right. You could make changes here. This is like a damn dirt track. You have to chase it. You chase it all day long -- 500 miles, five hours sometimes, you chase this race track. "You had to have a tough driver and a great pit crew. Our wins here to me are some of our best wins because we really won those races as a group. Jeff had to be the best, I had to be the best, the crew had to be the best. This place, to run as hard and as long as you do here, everything had to be just right. And when I look back at Darlington , they're some of the most satisfying wins that I had as a crew chief." MORE: Photos, facts about Darlington
RELATED: Vote for your favorite paint scheme May 6: Harvick unveils paint scheme, talks schedule adjustment NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Kevin Harvick was the first of many drivers to unveil his Darlington throwback paint scheme. His No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet will feature a nostalgic Budweiser look. " Read the full story May 27: SHR reveals Stewart's throwback Darlington Look Tony Stewart was the second SHR driver to reveal his car's paint scheme for the throwback weekend at Darlington . The No. 14 Chevrolet will have a retro look to it for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . " Read the full story June 9: SHR unveils Busch's Darlington paint scheme SHR continued to unveil its drivers' throwback looks, this time with Kurt Busch 's car being on display. His No. 41 Chevrolet will pay tribute to past Haas-Automation schemes run at "The Lady in Black." " Read the full story July 8: RCR reveals Newman's Darlington throwback look See Ryan Newman 's paint scheme set for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . Newman's No. 31 Chevrolet honors Caterpillar's history. " Read the full story July 21: Danica's Darlington paint scheme revealed NASCAR's leading lady, Danica Patrick , will appropriately honor the track nicknamed "The Lady in Black" with black livery for her No. 10 Chevrolet. " Read the full story Aug 4: Wood Bros. reveals Blaney's Darlington throwback scheme The No. 21 Ford of Ryan Blaney has quite a historic throwback look as it includes more than 2,000 photos of the Wood Brothers team's history, dating back 60 years. " Read the full story Aug 15: Jimmie Johnson 's Darlington scheme revealed Jimmie's No. 48 Chevrolet is one of the many cars set to rock a vintage look for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . The three-time Darlington winner will have a Lowe's Home Improvement logo on his car that was used throughout the 1940s and '50s. " See Jimmie's paint preview Aug 18: Stenhouse Jr. reveals Darlington throwback look Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s No. 17 Ford is getting a new (or rather old) paint scheme. The look will honor David Pearson, 105-time winner in NASCAR's premier series and Darlington's all-time winner with a total of 10 wins. " See Stenhouse Jr.'s paint scheme Aug 18: Ragan's Darlington look to honor his father David Ragan is taking the opportunity to honor his father, Ken Ragan, during the Bojangles' Southern 500 . His No. 55 MWR Toyota will feature a paint scheme that his father often featured on his cars. " Read the full story Aug 18: Gallery: Darlington's throwback paint schemes With drivers fully embracing the throwback theme that Darlington has to offer, NASCAR.com made it easy and put all the paint schemes in one place. " See the full gallery Aug 24: Bowyer's Darlington throwback look unveiled Clint Bowyer is one of many to be rocking an old-school look to his car. The No. 15 Toyota will sport a dedication to two NASCAR greats -- Bud Moore and the late Buddy Baker. " Read the full story Aug 25: BK Racing unveils Jeb Burton throwback, driver swap In this driver swap, Burton will be taking over the No. 23 of J.J. Yeley, who will be driving Burton's No. 26 Toyota. The No. 23 will honor Jeb's father, Ward Burton. " Read the full story Aug 27: Two JGR teams to serve practice penalties at Darlington Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth will serve penalties for the practice rounds at Darlington due to failed pre-qualifying and pre-race inspections at Bristol. " Read the full story Aug 27: Aric Almirola 's throwback paint scheme for Darlington revealed Aric Almirola 's No. 43 Ford is the latest to get a vintage makeover before the throwback weekend begins. The No. 43 will be sporting a Richard Petty-inspired look. " Read the full story Aug 27: Terry Labonte to be Southern 500 grand marshal Two-time Sprint Cup champion Terry Labonte will serve as grand marshal for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . Labonte won at Darlington when the race was last held during Labor Day weekend. " Read the full story Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Brad Keselowski Take a look at the paint scheme Brad Keselowski 's No. 2 Team Penske Ford will be sporting, paying homage to the Darlington throwback weekend. " Watch the video Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Denny Hamlin Glimpse Denny Hamlin 's retro scheme that is paying tribute to NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough. " Watch the video Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Chase Elliott Check out the original paint scheme that Chase Elliott will be honoring at Darlington Raceway . " Watch the video Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Austin Dillon Keeping it in the family, Austin Dillon will be honoring his grandfather and will be using a paint scheme patterned after Richard Childress's No. 3. " Watch the video Aug 30: Complete schedule for Darlington Don't miss any of the exciting action. Check out the complete schedule to find out when on-track action begins. " Read more Aug 31: Drivers, officials, fans pumped for Darlington throwback weekend Everyone is geared up and ready for the throwback weekend at Darlington for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . " Read more Sept. 1: Not a typical throwback NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce explains why Darlington is different, with help from legends like Cale Yarborough. " Read more Sept. 2: Kahne's look revealed The scheme for Kasey Kahne 's No. 5 gives a nod to Geoff Bodine and Hendrick Motorsports ' beginnings. " Read more Sept. 2: How Darlington's distinctive design was made Darlington Raceway was designed back in 1949, preparing for the first 500-mile NASCAR race to be held at "The Lady in Black" in 1950. " Read more Sept. 2: Behind-the-scenes at the Mello Yello shoot Kyle Larson and Kyle Petty team up for the Mello Yello shoot where Larson gets a pretty interesting makeover. Do you like his new look? " See more Sept. 2: 1970 Southern 500 Promo The throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway is bringing back a lot of retro looks with the abundance of paint schemes. Take a look into our archive and see what the 1970 Southern 500 race was all about. " Watch the video Sept. 2: Chase-clinching scenarios at Darlington With two races away before the Chase, drivers who have yet to clinch a spot are in panic mode. See how drivers need to perform at Darlington if they want to be on the Chase Grid. " Read more Sept. 3: What if Darlington race included throwback drivers? Darlington is all about the throwback theme, with most of the drivers sporting a retro paint scheme for the weekend. But what if the race included throwback drivers? See who some of the NASCAR community would pick. " Read more Sept. 3: @nascarcasm presents: Rejected Darlington throwback ideas @nascarcasm drafts up some rejected ideas for throwback weekend at Darlington . " Read more Sept. 3: Darlington most talked about race since Daytona 500 The Bojangles' Southern 500 is all the NASCAR community can talk about, and for good reason with drivers honoring throwback paint schemes from some NASCAR legends. " Read more Sept. 3: Driver reports: Previewing Darlington See how all the drivers currently on the Chase Grid fare at "The Lady in Black." Will they maintain their spot or will they go? " See more
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid standings Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Darlington Raceway 1. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing : Edwards battled back from an early pit road miscue, flat tire and track position two laps down to take the checkered in the longest race of the season thus far. His No. 19 pit crew was his saving grace, as the team performed a dynamic 12-second pit stop that won Edwards the race off pit road for the night's final restart. " RELATED: Edwards discusses winning the Southern 500 2. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske : Pole-sitter Keselowski was blisteringly fast through the night, leading a race-high 196 laps around the storied raceway , wheeling the race's fastest lap of 176.587 mph and contending for the win. But his crew didn't match his speed, as Keselowski came up .902 seconds behind Edwards in the final race off pit road. " RELATED: Keselowski breaks down his night 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing : The trend of strong pit crews for Joe Gibbs Racing held strong with Hamlin, as he consistently gained multiple spots on pit road throughout the night, helping him pace the field for 57 laps. 4. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske : Pacing the field twice for 29 laps, Logano earned his first top-five result at the "Track Too Tough to Tame" in his seven starts. 5. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing : Pacing the field for 44 laps, Harvick was a heavy contender for the win throughout the night, fighting Edwards and Keselowski for the checked in the final laps. 6. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing : Busch overcame a setback at Lap 307, when Martin Truex Jr . accidently hit his No. 41 Chevrolet from behind, sending it spinning across the track. 7. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing : Persevering through a late-race collision with Greg Biffle , Busch's seventh-place finish allowed him to officially clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . " RELATED: Busch makes the Chase 8. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports : Junior's post-race description of Sunday's race as "challenging" but "very rewarding" was fitting, as the No. 88 team took a while to find their groove throughout the weekend, eventually finishing 18 spots ahead of their 26th-place starting position. 9. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing : Truex Jr. earned his 17th top-10 finish of the season at Darlington , setting a record with his Furniture Row Racing team for its most top-10s in a season. 10. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates: Wheeling the fan-favorite Kyle Petty throwback car, Larson ran with NASCAR's elite throughout the evening, earning a second-straight top 10 in his sophomore year at the "Lady in Black." " RELATED: See all the throwback paint schemes 11. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports : Sitting precariously on one of the Chase bubble positions, Almirola's steady 11th-place result shaved off six points in the standings from Clint Bowyer -- the last driver in the Chase Grid as of today. " RELATED: Who is on the Chase bubble? 12. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports : Crew chief Keith Rodden rolled the dice early with a speedy two-tire stop that allowed Kahne to gain 13 positions and pace the field for two laps before getting passed by cars with four fresh Goodyears. 13. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing After going completely sideways early in the race, Newman's No. 31 had minimal damage, which allowed him to finish in the top 15 for the fourth consecutive race. 14. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates: The No. 1 crew fought radio communication troubles through the night, forcing the team to communicate in three-word spurts with McMurray. 15. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing : "Smoke" stayed on the track during a cycle of yellow-flag pit stops to lead 10 laps on older tires after beating Larson on the restart at Lap 212. 16. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports : Equipped with a car that was better handling in the shorter runs, the frequent cautions allowed Gordon to run in the top 10 for much of the night. 17. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing : Spotter Brett Griffin advised Bowyer during the race to "just race the track and stay out of that (expletive) wall" -- which he accomplished, but still earned his worst result at Darlington since 2011. 18. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing : A flat right-front tire and collision with Kyle Busch provided plenty of typical Darlington obstacles for Biffle, whose 18th-place finish was somewhat disappointing after his impressive practice speeds. 19. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports : Called out by teammate Gordon over the radio, Johnson was issued a warning after accelerating too quickly prior to entering pit road at Lap 128 – but the "Lady in Black" awarded the No. 48 a penalty of her own less than five laps later when Johnson spun out after making contact with Logano. " RELATED: Gordon calls out Johnson 20. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports: Wheeling the "Proud to be an American" scheme driven by Sterling Martin, Cassill earned his best finish since Pocono in August. 21. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing : The "Lady in Black" proved she shows mercy to no one, even an established driver like Kenseth, who smacked the wall at Lap 20 and damaged his No. 20 ride. 22. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing : His throwback Chevy sporting a Darlington stripe that was earned in opening practice, Dillon was the first driver to pilot the No. 3 ride on Labor Day weekend at Darlington since Dale Earnhardt did in 2000. 23. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing : From a collision with Justin Allgaier early in the race to a penalty for jumping the restart at Lap 124, Allmendinger's 23rd-place finish on Sunday didn't come easy. 24. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing : Bowman overcame an early brush with the wall, flat left rear and right rear tires and a collision with T.J. Bell for a career-best finish at Darlington . 25. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing : Making his first Sprint Cup Series start at the "Lady in Black," DiBenedetto’s 25th-place result earned him the Sunoco Rookie of the Race award. 26. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing : Aggressive driving caused Menard to hit the back of David Ragan at Lap 279, sending the No. 55 spinning and leaving Menard still without a career top-10 finish at Darlington . " RELATED: See the contact 27. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports : Gilliland took the wave around to lead Lap 303, managing to end the race on the lead lap. 28. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports : Turning laps in a Mark Martin -themed throwback car, Hornish Jr. spun at Lap 299, but saved it and continued racing. 29. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing : His car sporting a pink decal honoring team owner Bob Germain’s late wife, Gracie, and her battle with breast cancer, Mears faced string of issues -- vibration, no second or third gear and low volts -- at the "Track Too Tough to Tame." 30. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing : In his first Sprint Cup Series start at Darlington , Blaney earned his initiation-style stripes at Lap 95 when he hit the wall while running 16th. 31. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing : Burton brought out the record-setting 18th caution in Sunday night's Southern 500, when his No. 23 Toyota spun out between Turns 1 and 2. 32. Mike Bliss , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport: After bringing out the fifth caution at Lap 120 following a brush with the wall, a collision between Bliss' No. 33 and J.J. Yeley's No. 26 signaled another caution just five laps later. 33. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports : Shortly after a radio conversation with his team where Allgaier said, "The 47 is all over us," he and AJ Allmendinger collided, sending the No. 51 limping down pit road with heavy right-side damage. 34. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing : A wreck at Lap 125 with Bliss and Michael Annett sent the No. 26 to the garage for repairs. 35. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing : Bayne went for a spin at Lap 166 only to spin out again at Lap 247, sending him to the garage for repairs. 36. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports : The No. 34 incurred early damage and made an early trip the garage, when it was caught up in a wreck with Chase Elliott and Cole Whitt at Lap 7. 37. T.J. Bell, No. 98 Ford, Premium Motorsports: As the caution flag flew for Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s spin at Lap 198, Bell and Bowman made contact, leaving both vehicles with plenty of damage. 38. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing : While racing hard with Bowyer, Stenhouse Jr. hit the fronstretch wall hard at Lap 198, forcing his No. 17 to the garage momentarily for repairs. 39. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports : The No. 46 incurred heavy left-side damage that required garage-time, after getting caught up in a wreck between Yeley and Bliss at Lap 125. 40. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing : A pair of back-to-back cautions brought out by the No. 55 car marred Ragan’s day, as his Michael Waltrip Racing ride ultimately went up in flames -- and to the garage. " RELATED: Contact leads to hard hit for Ragan 41. Chase Elliott , No. 25 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports : Making his fifth and final Sprint Cup Series start of 2015, Elliott battled from an early-race incident with Cole Whitt to race inside the top 20. Unfortunately, the Hendrick Motorsports part-time rookie went for a hard spin at Lap 228, his No. 25 ride suffering day-ending damage. " RELATED: Early damage for Elliott 42. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing : "Sorry, I just got loose," Patrick speculated via her team radio following heavy contact with the wall at Lap 189 that sent her No. 10 down pit road for extensive repairs. She returned to the track later in the race, but left soon after with a smoking car. " RELATED: Tough night for Danica 43. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports : Whitt's third Sprint Cup Series start at Darlington came to a close early in the race, when his No. 35 ride was collected in Brett Moffitt 's brush with the wall and did not return to the track.
RELATED: Updated standings " Full results from Darlington Chris Buescher insists he's not counting points, not with nine races left in the NASCAR XFINITY Series season. That doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy his perch atop the standings as the calendar turns toward crunch time. "It's not over by any means," Buescher said Saturday after a scrappy fifth-place finish at Darlington Raceway . "There's a long way to go and we're going to have to race 'em hard all the way till the end, but I do like where we're at. We've been able to kind of fluctuate a little bit right in this area this year, and that's a huge testament to this 60 team, to everybody back at Roush Fenway. They've been working their tails off to try to get this stuff better, so we're in a good spot. We want to get Ford back to a championship this year." Buescher, 22, converted his last time out with his first top-five finish in four career tries at Darlington , looking old-school with a damp towel around his neck after a sweltering afternoon of survival. The effort helped the Roush Fenway Racing ace pad his lead from 16 to 29 points over new second-place driver Ty Dillon . Chase Elliott slipped a rung to third place in the standings after Darlington , but remains within striking distance, just 35 points off the top. The next challenge looming for Buescher is Friday night's Virginia 529 College Savings 250 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) at Richmond International Raceway , a track where he is 0-for-4 in the top-five column. "Circling that one as one we need to try to turn around," Buescher said. "That was a rough one for us earlier this year, but we have a lot of notes. We have a lot of things that've worked really well for us at short tracks since then, so we feel pretty comfortable going back. We'll have to wait and see, but it'll be a challenge surely. Honestly, I'm just glad we came out of Darlington with a solid day." Buescher will need more of the same at the .75-mile Virginia track, where he wrestled an ill-handling car to a 20th-place result in the most recent Richmond race, posting the No. 60 team's worst finish of the season. Since that April evening, when he lagged three laps behind at the checkered flag, Buescher has righted the ship with two victories, the most recent of which placed him atop the standings. To keep the team's streak at No. 1 intact, crew chief Scott Graves said he's hoping for another workman-like effort this weekend. "We've spent a lot of time since the last Richmond really thinking about what we're going to do there and coming up with a plan," Graves said. "So next week, for sure, it's really big for us." Buescher's recent results on short tracks offer some encouragement. He prevailed in May at Iowa Speedway , a slightly larger but similar layout, and just last month the Texas native contended for the win at .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway before running out of fuel on the race's final restart. The latter performance showed that Graves isn't afraid to gamble for victories rather than playing it safe. Even then, he remains cognizant about the bigger picture. "At this point, I'm always thinking about it," Graves said of his driver's position in the standings. "Nothing you can do other than just have days like we had today. If we keep doing this part, we're going to be fine. We've just got to prevent the bad things from happening. We do the best we can to keep it from happening and if we keep it up like this, we'll be just fine."
RELATED: Full practice results Piloting his No. 2 Team Penske Ford at 175.880 mph, Brad Keselowski slid into the top position on the leaderboard with less than 10 minutes remaining Friday's final practice session at Darlington Raceway . Opening practice leader Greg Biffle found speed in the final minutes of Friday's final practice, propelling his No. 16 Ford around the South Carolina speedway at 175.729 mph for the second position. Like many of the other drivers in the field, third-fastest Kurt Busch -- who was second on the leaderboard in the opening session -- used the final minutes of the 115-minute practice to make a mock qualifying run in his No. 41 Chevrolet (175.723 mph). A late run also benefited Paul Menard , who inherited the fourth position on the leaderboard with the help of a fast lap of 175.484 mph from his No. 27 Richard Childress Racing car. His teammate Austin Dillon rounded out the top five, getting a top speed of 175.453 mph out of his No. 3 ride. Denny Hamlin remained atop the leaderboard for the majority of the final session. However, when drivers switched to qualifying trim in the final laps, he ended up 14th by the time the red flag waved to the signal the end of practice. "The Track Too Tough to Tame" lived up to its name in the final minutes for reigning race winner Kevin Harvick , who smacked the wall off Turn 2 late in the session in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Harvick ranked 21st on the leaderboard. After making contact with the wall midway through the second practice session, Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team deferred to a back-up car. The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota came up 35th on the leaderboard after the 115-minute session. Coors Light Pole Qualifying is set for Saturday at 1:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN. RELATED: Full practice results Greg Biffle topped the opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Darlington Raceway for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Biffle paced the 115-minute practice with a fast lap of 176.201 mph at the 1.366-mile track in South Carolina. The Roush Fenway Racing driver has two wins in 14 starts at the "Lady in Black" and is currently on the outside of the Chase Grid with two races left in the regular season. Stewart-Haas Racing dominated the leaderboard behind Biffle with Kurt Busch (175.842 mph), Tony Stewart (175.710 mph) and Kevin Harvick (175.654 mph) coming in second through fourth in the session. Harvick is the defending race winner at Darlington . Joe Gibbs Racing 's Carl Edwards (175.647 mph) rounded out the top five. Friday's practice sessions provided the drivers with significant time with the low downforce package. This is the second race of the season to use that particular rules package as it was also used at Kentucky in July. Austin Dillon "earned" a Darlington stripe early in opening practice when he hit the wall off of Turn 2 and had significant damage to the right side of his No. 3 Chevrolet. The team worked to fix the damage on his car instead of bringing out the backup and got him back out on track toward the end of the session. Brett Moffitt also got a Darlington stripe early in the practice session. Chase Elliott , who will be attempting to make his fifth Sprint Cup start of the season, brushed the wall about a half hour into practice. Trevor Bayne also got into the wall during the practice session. RELATED: See Darlington's greatest hits
RELATED: Answers on multiple packages " Darlington's throwback gallery Perhaps somewhat overshadowed by all the talk about Darlington Raceway 's "throwback" platform this weekend is the return of NASCAR's low downforce package, incorporating aerodynamic changes first unveiled at Kentucky Speedway earlier this year. Three significant changes have been incorporated into the Sprint Cup Series package for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 (7 p.m. ET, NBC/Live Extra, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) that differs from the package used in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky in July. The Darlington spoiler will be 3-1/2 inches (instead of 3 inches) and the splitter will feature a 1/4-inch leading edge. Also, the tires to be used at Darlington were built specifically for this particular low downforce package. The build was determined after a one-day test in July with drivers Matt Kenseth ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ) and Tony Stewart ( Stewart-Haas Racing ). There is no change in the size of the splitter extension panel, which was set at 25 inches for the Kentucky event. Driver feedback, for the most part, was positive following Kentucky. But Jason Ratcliff, crew chief for Kenseth, noted that differences in the two tracks and other considerations would have an impact this weekend at Darlington . "It's going to be a lot different … because we haven't run at Darlington at this time of year in a while," he said. "… Darlington is unique anyway -- you run right around the fence, which makes it difficult to pass, but I thought the aero package was good and we were able to work on the car and find some speed and nothing negative with it." Fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards said he's looking forward to putting the low downforce package back on the track. "The way we've been running lately and the way this package drove at Kentucky, I mean to me Darlington is going to be like Christmas in September. I'm pumped," he said. So About Those Tires The tire combination selected by Goodyear will feature the same left-side tire code used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year with a right-side tire code that was run at Kentucky. "We had a very minimal change in grip at Kentucky from what we raced there in 2014," Greg Stucker, Director of Race Tire Sales for Goodyear, told SiriusXM NASCAR on Wednesday. "Just a little bit more grip on the left-side tire, and the results of that particular event I think were very, very positive. "I think the low-downforce package showed a lot of potential. I think a lot of people walked out of there thinking that was a really nice package. It certainly reduced grip, put a lot of control back into the drivers' hands. Did a lot of things that I think people were looking for." Stucker said a "considerable amount of grip" has been added to the Darlington tires, with hopefully will offset some of the aerodynamic grip lost with the aero changes on the cars. "The reduction in downforce going from the standard 2015 (package) to the low-downforce package increased lap times by about three-quarters of a second, 7/10ths to 8/10ths, something like that," he said. "That much slower. When we put the grippier setup on, it gave us about that same 7/10ths to 8/10ths back." A December test at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2014 actually provided some of the initial data for the low downforce tire build. "We went back there again in March of this year to confirm that tire package for a low-downforce setup that at the time was thought to be run in the (Sprint) All-Star Race," Stucker said. "So we had a lot of work done in a similar configuration. Historically Darlington and Charlotte are similar. We run the same right-side tire there, slightly different left. But it gave us a real good starting point for where to go back to Darlington so we did that." Riding a Blue Streak The teams and track officials aren't the only ones on board with this year's "throwback" theme for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . Even Goodyear is going retro, returning to a logo design used in the 1970s. At that time, the logos and markings on each tire were hand-painted -- that won't be the case this weekend -- "but they'll definitely have the looks of what we ran back in the '70s," Stucker said. "We had not yet gone to Eagle on our race tires. They were still called Blue Streak Specials." The yellow Goodyear lettering seen on today's Goodyear Eagle tires came into use in 1992.
RELATED: Kez: 'Separates the ... drivers from the pretends' DARLINGTON , S.C. -- For all the throwback touches that Darlington Raceway adopted in the preamble to the 66th running of the Bojangles' Southern 500 , the venerable old track delivered Sunday night on one more nod to the days of yore -- the racing. The tradition returns. The reduced-downforce aerodynamic rules might well deserve the "new package" label, but the slipping and sliding action from drivers manhandling unwieldy cars over the course of nearly four and half hours conjured up memories of Darlington races gone by. The combination of the aero setup with softer-compound Goodyears produced a tire-gnawing marathon worthy of another Labor Day classic. Carl Edwards might be biased after converting a mammoth rally into victory No. 25 in stock-car racing's premier division, but he was among those calling for the old-school racing from the quote-unquote new package to be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' standard rules in 2016, if not earlier. "I'm kind of a shoot-for-the-moon kind of guy, and I hope a race like tonight makes them think about the idea of running this even in the Chase," said Edwards, who finished fourth in the debut race for the lower-downforce package in July at Kentucky Speedway . "Everybody has developed this package. I believe it's pretty obvious that it races really well and it's really fun to do and it's fun to watch. But even if we don't, I hope next year they really consider going farther this direction." Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, said that series officials would gather data from Darlington and previous races with varying packages and meet with NASCAR's three manufacturers, drivers, crews and Goodyear in the coming weeks to formulate next year's rules. O'Donnell, who said he expects the 2016 rules to be released toward the end of September, was pleased with the results of the package's Darlington redux. "I look at it as, were the fans entertained? And when I looked down on Lap 10 to towards the end of the race, they were on their feet. So I think if you asked most of the race fans here tonight, did they enjoy four and a half hours of racing action, I think they'd say yes. For us, it's always about the entertaining racing on the track, and I think the drivers delivered that tonight. Certainly something we want to look at." The return of the decreased-downforce package threw a new wrinkle at teams with a softer tire than the compound used at Kentucky. The gritty, abrasive surface of Darlington's 1.366-mile layout has always done a number on tires, regardless of their hardness. Sunday night's classic produced tire wear that left crews scrambling for strategy plays against a 12-set ration of fresh rubber, plus a bonus set of scuffs from practice to make a baker's dozen. A track-record flurry of 18 caution periods made tire management that much more of a factor, with crew chiefs needing to pick and choose their spots for tire changes. But even with dramatic tire fall-off, driving ability under the new aero specifications made more of a difference. "This is a perfect track for it. It definitely seems like the car is less affected behind other cars and you don't have such a big pocket of air that you're having to run through," said Rodney Childers, crew chief for fifth-place finisher Kevin Harvick . "That part of it's really nice. I think all in all, it just comes down to the race track. The race track's good for racing and the surface was right, the tire was right tonight and it just made some fun for those guys to be able to slide their cars around and have fun with it." The rash of yellow flags was partly attributed to the track "Too Tough To Tame" living up to its punishing nickname, but also the reduction in aero stability. It's part of what led third-place Denny Hamlin , Edwards' Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, to laud the package's finicky nature. "I think wrecks are good," said Hamlin, who led 57 of 367 laps. "Wrecks are good because we've made our cars so idiot-proof over the last four to five years. The tires are hard as a rock, the cars are so stiff that … it's just made it to where there are no wrecks any more. This package, you're sliding around so much, guys are making mistakes. We said a long time ago that the way that the back car passes the front car is to drive in deeper than that guy, and sometimes he makes it, sometimes he doesn't, and sometimes he wrecks, and that's what makes for exciting racing. I think we saw a taste of that tonight." The rave reviews from Hamlin also trickled down to his crew chief, Dave Rogers, who was quick to mention a NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee in a weekend filled with such remembrances. "This is what we grew up watching. This is what our fans want to see and what our competitors want to see," Rogers said. "Really cool to be getting passed in the short run and then passing people back in the long run. Reminds me of days of Mark Martin . Mark Martin would lay back, lose a bunch of spots, not get rattled, then drive back to the front. Denny Hamlin 's just like Mark. It was neat to see guys do it. I think if this race ends on a long run, we've got a shot to win it. It ended on a short run, and our teammates won it. It's great. This is great racing. I love the package. I love everything about it."