2012 Bojangles' Southern 500
|Race 11 of 36 in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season|
|Date||May 12, 2012|
|Location||Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
1.366 mi (2.198 km)
|Distance||368 laps, 502.688 mi (808.998 km)|
|Weather||Clear with a temperature around 82°F; wind out of the E at 5 mph.|
|Average speed||133.802 miles per hour (215.333 km/h)|
|Driver||Roush Fenway Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports|
|No. 48||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds|
Contested over 368 laps (the final restart following a pace car period occurred on Lap 367; under NASCAR rules, if the penultimate lap is run under the Safety Car, the ensuing restart will be two consecutive green flag laps, and there will be three attempts to finish the race with two consecutive green-flag laps), it was the eleventh race of the 2012 season. Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports took his first win of the season, while Denny Hamlin finished second and Tony Stewart finished third.
Darlington Raceway is one of ten intermediate to hold NASCAR races; the others are Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Homestead Miami Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Texas Motor Speedway. The standard track at the speedway is a four-turn superspeedway that is 1.366 miles (2.198) long. The track's first two turns are banked at twenty-five degrees, while the final two turns are banked two degrees lower at twenty-three degrees. The front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the back stretch is banked at six degrees. Darlington Raceway can seat up to 63,000 people.
The 2012 race marked a milestone of the race that traces its lineage to the 1957 Rebel 300. It was the 50th running of the Rebel 500 for fixed-roof hardtops (the 1957-62 races in the Rebel 300/400/500 lineage were run as NASCAR Convertible Division races), as the race was first designated for fixed-roof hardtops in 1963.
Before the race, Greg Biffle led the Drivers' Championship with 378 points, and Matt Kenseth stood in second with 371. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was third in the Drivers' Championship with 369 points, eighteen ahead of Denny Hamlin and thirty-six ahead of Kevin Harvick in fourth and fifth. Martin Truex, Jr. with 332 was four points ahead of Tony Stewart, as Jimmie Johnson with 324 points, was sixteen points ahead of Kyle Busch, and twenty-two in front of Clint Bowyer. In the Manufacturers' Championship, Chevrolet was leading with 63 points, five ahead of Toyota. Ford, with 53 points, was seven points ahead of Dodge in the battle for third. Regan Smith was the race's defending race winner after winning it in 2011.
Practice and qualifying
Two practice sessions were held before the race on May 11, 2012. The first session was 120 minutes long, while the second lasted 45 minutes. Harvick was quickest with a time of 27.769 seconds in the first session,around one-tenth of a second faster than Biffle. Kurt Busch was third, followed by Carl Edwards, Stewart, and Truex, Jr. Johnson was seventh, still within three-tenths of a second of Harvick's time. In the second practice session, A. J. Allmendinger wasquickest with a time of 28.097. Biffle followed Allmendinger in the second position with a time of 28.144 seconds; 0.047 seconds slower. Edwards was third quickest, ahead of Johnson, Travis Kvapil, and Paul Menard. Landon Cassill followed in the seventh position with a time of 28.422 seconds.
Forty-seven cars were for qualifying, but only forty-three would race because of NASCAR's qualifying procedure. Biffle clinched the eleventh pole position of his career with a time of 27.281 seconds, the only qualifying lap under 27.300 seconds. Johnson and Kahne qualified 0.105 seconds behind, but Johnson joined Biffle on the front row of the grid because of a better Owner's Championship position compared to Kahne. Ryan Newman took fourth place, ahead of Kyle Busch and Truex, Jr. in the fifth and sixth positions. Edwards qualified seventh, while Hamlin followed in eighth. Smith and Jeff Burton completed the first ten positions. The four drivers who failed to qualify for the race were Scott Riggs, Michael McDowell, Stephen Leicht and Mike Bliss.
Once the qualifying session concluded, Driver's Championship leader Biffle stated, "This is what a race car driver looks forward to, showing up every weekend and having a really fast car to drive. They're making me look good so far." Afterward, he described his qualifying lap, "It was a pretty uneventful lap. The car just had a ton of grip — it stuck to the race track really, really well. I felt like I was a little bit light down in Turns 1 and 2 — I should have been a little bit quicker down there — but I got a lot out of it in 3 and 4, so it was a great lap."
Greg Biffle started up in front. The big story was the question over whether or not former rivals Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch would get into a feud again like in 2011 the prior race. There was a long green-flag run with 172 laps going green. After a caution for debris Jimmie Johnson who almost won at Martinsville that year, took the lead. Kyle Busch on lap 200 clenched up the bonus prize money for the fastest pit crew of the race.
Two more cautions flew for debris and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was penalized for speeding on pit road. However, when Bobby Labonte crashed Dale Earnhardt Jr. was given back a lap. Jimmie Johnson pitted and regained the lead while Phoenix Racing driver Kurt Busch road up to the top ten conserving fuel.
With less than 50 laps left in the race, Jamie McMurray crashed with Regan Smith. Tony Stewart was in third spot and contended to win. However Stewart spun his tires on the restart and fell back to 7th place. Jimmie Johnson continued to lead. Suddenly the next caution flew with five laps left. This caution brought out the Darlington fireworks because Kurt Busch blew a tire and slipped into the wall causing Ryan Newman to crash also.
Believing that Kurt intentionally crashed Ryan Newman, under the caution Newman's gasman Andy Rueger gestured the finger to Busch's crew chief Nick Harrison. Even though it was clear that Busch was not at fault for Newman's crash Ryan Newman did not buy the excuses for his part in the crash. During the pit stops, Kurt Busch drove out of Newman's pit box in a reckless style. Kurt's former rival Jimmie Johnson meanwhile went on to win the race giving Rick Hendrick his 200th Sprint Cup victory as an owner. It was Johnson's third Darlington win (he swept the two races in 2004).
When the race ended Kurt Busch crashed into Ryan Newman's car. Finally Andy Rueger charged at Busch but pushed over an official. This led to a brawl between the pit crews but Kurt was led away to the NASCAR hauler during the struggle to explain himself. This incident was described as being similar to the previous race at Darlington in 2011 when Kevin Harvick thought that an accident with Kyle Busch was intentional and smacked Busch after the race.
The next morning fines were released. Kurt Busch was fined $50,000, put on probation for 6 races and was given a warning of suspension if something similar happened. Ryan Newman's gasman Andy Rueger was fined $10,000 for both shoving an official over during the brawl and refusing orders to not go after Kurt. Newman's crew chief was fined $25,000 for failing to take control of the team immediately before the incident and Stewart-Haas Racing lost 55 points for the cup championship. When Ryan Newman was interviewed later that night after talking to Kurt he said "It is easy to say and it is easy to see that Kurt blew a fuse again. I do not know why he did it or why he tried to run over our guys."
When Kurt was asked on his opinion the next day he replied "I am very sorry to have gotten into it with Ryan Newman. He and I are friends and before he says what he said last night he should take a look at that Daytona 500 trophy of his in his house...now helped him win it?"
Standings after the race
- "2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule". ESPN. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- Brown, Brian (May 8, 2012). "The Southern 500". Rotoworld.com. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- "Biffle finds speed to take pole at Darlington". NASCAR Wire Service. NASCAR. May 11, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- "NASCAR Race Tracks". NASCAR. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "Darlington Raceway". NASCAR. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "Driver's Championship Classification". NASCAR. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "Manufactures' Championship Classification". Jayski.com. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "2011 Showtime Southern 500". racing-reference.com. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "Jayski's© NASCAR Silly Season Site – Sprint Cup Race Info / Rundown Page". Jayski.com. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- "Practice One Timing and Scoring". NASCAR. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- "Practice Two Timing and Scoring". NASCAR. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- "Qualifying Entry List". NASCAR. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- "Race Lineup: Bojangles' Southern 500". NASCAR. May 11, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- "Statistics: Bojangles' Southern 500 Qualifying". Motor Racing Network. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
2012 Aaron's 499
|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
2012 Coca-Cola 600