The Backstretch Blog's Race Day: Sense and Sentimentality


This is maybe my weekend of the year. I absolutely love seeing the old school paint schemes. Being a history nerd, I love seeing the cars and hearing the history of the various paint schemes. It is a true testament to what is cool about our sports.

"Can't wait to get to Darlington," said Austin Dillon. "The throwback scheme with the old Wrangler car it looks bad to the bone. I like what RCR has been doing with our throwbacks."

And they aren't the only company that does this throw back thing right. The grid is packed with amazing looking cars. But with this trip down memory lane comes the sentimentality of days gone by. A longing for the good ole days if you will. A trip down memory lane now and then is nice now and then, but memories are almost always better than reality.

Take that beautiful Richard Petty car that is the inspiration for the Aric Almirolla throw back pictured in this article. It brings back great memories of the man, "The King" Here's the rub. Richard Petty won the 1966 Rebel 400 at Darlington by three laps. Anyone up for that race today? I can't anything more gross than watching someone dominate like that. History is cool. And usually cooler in our memories than it ever was in real time. But I digress.

Darlington is a beast. Nicknamed the 'Lady in Black' if your car escaped with out a single mark, you have done something.

"Darlington commands a ton of respect," said Jimmie Johnson. "To qualify well requires a lot of bravery, to win there you have to be smart. It's a tough track. I'm pumped to run the throwback scheme again, every year the garage embraces this more and more. It's really fun."

Johnson is one of just six former Darlington winners in today's race and he leads active drivers with three Darlington wins. He will start the Southern 500 18th. On the pole is Kevin Harvick, who won at Darlington in 2014.

"Track position is never a disadvantage no matter if it's high tire wear, low tire wear the biggest advantage here is the first pit stall because the timing line is so close to the pit exit there with the first stall," said Harvick. "So that's really the biggest advantage. I think if your car is handling good, you can make your way through traffic, but having that first pit stall if you car is not handling good, it allows you to make up two or three spots if you have a decent pit stop and hopefully keep that track position all night. That's really the biggest advantage."

Martin Truex, Jr, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray round out the top five starters. Virginia native Denny Hamlin starts ninth, while Tennessee native Trevor Bayne starts 24th.

The green flag is set to drop on the Southern 500 at 6:15pm and you can see the race on NBCSN.