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Race Rewind: Looking back at the Southern 500

- Observations
Sunday, May. 12, 2013

With all the changes in NASCAR over the last 10 years, it’s still good to see the history of the sport recognized by its current participants. Matt Kenseth’s genuine enthusiasm Saturday night for winning his first Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway was a stark reminder that there are still some traditions and benchmarks that remain as important as when they first started.

Twitter was abuzz during the 125-lap green-flag run that began Saturday night’s race with complaints about the race lacking action. By the end of the race, there was plenty of action, excitement and disappointment to go around the entire Cup garage. In other words, eventually the race produced what it most always does. Someone in the media center mentioned that sports fans’ attention spans are much shorter these days. I think there is a lot of truth to that and advances in technology contribute to it.

There will be a lot of money on the line the next two weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 the following week. Right now, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Joe Gibbs Racing drivers make a clean sweep of both weeks’ races.

Notebook

Tough loss for Kyle Busch: Kyle Busch led a whopping 265 of the 367 laps but still came up short Saturday night in his quest to complete a weekend sweep of the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series races at Darlington.

In the final 35 laps, Busch tangled with Kasey Kahne while battling for the lead then saw Matt Kenseth pass him for the lead with 12 laps remaining. Busch ended up with a flat tire and a sixth-place finish.

Busch left the track after the race without comment.

Ragan can’t double up: David Ragan, last weekend’s surprise winner at Talladega, had much more difficulty this week at Darlington. Ragan experienced overheating issues early in the race and fell two laps down early and finished 39th.

“That’s how it goes sometimes,” Ragan said. “That’s a character-building weekend for sure. You’ve just got to work hard and stay focused and keep the right attitude. This is a very long season, so this isn’t it.”

Kahne not pleased with Busch: For the third time this season, Kasey Kahne had an issue with racing Kyle Busch and he isn’t sure why.

Saturday night, Kahne had passed Busch for the lead late in the race only to see Busch battle back aggressively with a daring move that sent Kahne against the wall.

“He was just going straight to the corner. So, whether he hit me or just blew the air off, whatever it was, he blew his entry and I’m not real sure what he was thinking on that,” Kahne said.

“He needs to quit. I’ve never touched the guy in my life as far as on the race track.”

Another Kenseth win: Ross Kenseth, the 19-year-old son of Saturday’s race winner Matt Kenseth and a student at Clemson, won a PASS Super Late Model race earlier Saturday evening at South Boston (Va.) Speedway.

5 key moments

1 . Brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch dominated the early part of the race, together leading 179 of the first 185 laps.

2 . Kenseth led twice – both times for two laps – prior to his late-race pass for the lead and both times were during green-flag pit stops.

3. Every time Kyle Busch entered pit road as the leader, he exited the leader, even when Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin took two tires and Busch took four.

4. Kyle Busch’s dueled with Kasey Kahne for the lead on Lap 334, which sent Kahne into the wall, but Busch seemed no worse for wear.

5. With 15 of 367 laps remaining, Kenseth suddenly made up serious ground on Busch, then completed the pass for the lead with 12 to go.

Next race

NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

TV: Speed

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Jimmie Johnson