Bojangles' Southern 500

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Bojangles' Southern 500
Bojangles' Southern 500 logo.jpg
Venue Darlington Raceway
Sponsor Bojangles'
First race 1950
Distance 501.322 miles (806.799 km)
Laps 367
Previous names Southern 500 (19501988)
Heinz Southern 500 (19891991)
Mountain Dew Southern 500 (19921997, 20012004)
Pepsi Southern 500 (1998, 2000)
The 50th Pepsi Southern 500 (1999)
Dodge Charger 500 (2005–2006)
Dodge Avenger 500 (2007)
Dodge Challenger 500 (2008)
Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com (2009)
Showtime Southern 500 (20102011)

The Bojangles' Southern 500 is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina, United States. The race distance is 501 miles (806 km) long, and consists of 367 laps. From 1950 to 2003, the race was held on Labor Day weekend. During this period, Darlington held two Cup series races annually, the other a 400-mile event in the spring, and the Southern 500 was largely considered one of the crown jewels of the NASCAR calendar.

In 2004, the race was moved to November and was run as the second to last race in the inaugural Chase for the NEXTEL Cup. The following year, as the result of a settlement with Texas Motor Speedway shareholder Francis Ferko, Darlington lost one of its race dates and chose to keep the 500 mile race distance for its remaining date. The 500 gained the sponsorship of Dodge and was moved to Mother's Day weekend in May. The race was run on a Saturday night during this period.

The event reassumed the Southern 500 name in 2009. In 2014, the race moved to April after swapping dates with Kansas Speedway. NASCAR announced that the Southern 500 would be returning to its traditional Labor Day weekend date for 2015, replacing Atlanta Motor Speedway as the host of the Labor Day weekend event (Atlanta's race, meanwhile, was moved into the early portion of the season).

Kevin Harvick is the defending winner of the race, after winning it in 2014.

History[edit]

1950–2003: Original run on Labor Day Weekend[edit]

The race began in 1950, as NASCAR's first 500 mile race, and it was the only race of such distance until the Daytona 500 debuted in 1959. Through most of its history the race was one of NASCAR's premier events, and was known as one of four Crown Jewels on the NASCAR circuit. From 1985-1997, it served as the fourth race of the popular Winston Million. Two drivers, Bill Elliott (1985) and Jeff Gordon (1997), clinched the Winston Million with victories in the Southern 500.

In 1989, the race added Heinz as a title sponsor, but kept the traditional "Southern" moniker in its official name. The Southern 500 was one of the last races on the circuit to embrace naming rights in its title.

From 1950-2003, this annual event was traditionally held on Labor Day weekend (typically the first weekend of September). In most years before 1984, was held on Monday, Labor Day itself.

2004: November[edit]

For the 2004 season, a shuffling of the NASCAR schedule saw the race move to November. Track management believed the November date would allow for cooler, more comfortable weather for fans, who had increasingly voiced concerns about the hot, humid, weather. In addition, it meant the race would be part of the new Chase for the Nextel Cup. Rockingham lost its fall date to Fontana, and the Pop Secret 500 was moved to the prestigious Labor Day weekend date.

In 2004, Francis Ferko, a shareholder of the company that owned Texas Motor Speedway, sued NASCAR, saying they had violated antitrust laws by refusing to have a second race at Texas Motor Speedway, as many other tracks had. The case was settled in his favor, and NASCAR was forced to give up one of its Darlington dates so that a second race could be held at Texas.

2005–2013: Mother's Day weekend[edit]

Starting in 2005, Darlington was forced to contract down to one race per year. Officials replaced Darlington's two events with the one 500-mile race. The race was situated on the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend in mid-May, a date that was normally avoided by NASCAR over its history. The "Southern 500" moniker was dropped for the race.

Dodge, which had been sponsoring the Darlington's 400 mile race up to that point, took over sponsorship of the 500-miler. The title of the race was based on various Dodge models through 2008, including the Charger, Challenger, and Avenger. The race would be held under-the-lights, and proved to be well-attended.

Without a title sponsor for 2009, the race tentatively adopted the generic moniker of "Southern 500". Track officials and fans were anxious to revive the traditional name. Go Daddy was signed as presenting sponsor, and it became known as the Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com for 2009.

The race was sponsored by Showtime Networks from 2010-2011, and since 2012, has been sponsored by Bojangles'. It remained on Mother's Day weekend through 2013, under the name Bojangle's Southern 500.

2014: April[edit]

In 2014, the race switched dates with the spring Kansas race, and ran in the second weekend in April.[1] This change, like the one ten years earlier, would only last a year. The 2014 race was still run at night, whereas the Kansas race on that date had been run during the afternoon.

2015: Return to Labor Day weekend[edit]

A revived interest in moving the Southern 500 back to Labor Day grew over the summer of 2014. In August 2014, it was announced that that the Bojangles' Southern 500 would return to its traditional Labor Day weekend slot, the first time since 2003.[2] To combat the issue of heat and humidity that had dogged the race for so many years in September, the race will be held on Sunday evening under-the-lights, when temperatures are cooler.

To celebrate the return of the race to its traditional weekend, at least half the anticipated field has announced plans to run "throwback" paint schemes for the event.

Notable races[edit]

  • 1950: The very first running lasted over six hours and multiple cars blew tires. Johnny Mantz drove a conservative race and emerged with the win.
  • 1960: In a race with 48 entries, numerous crashes occurred and the race proved tragic, first when Ankrum "Spook" Crawford was injured when a car crashed into the unprotected pit road area; later Bobby Johns crashed in the pits, killing three. Richard Petty led 106 laps but spun out with 50 laps to go. Pole-sitter Glenn Roberts broke an axle and finished ninth, 11 laps down. Rex White was flagged the winner, but a reexamination of scoring showed White was credited with one extra lap he hadn't run, giving the win to Buck Baker.
  • 1966: Darel Dieringer passed Richard Petty with seven laps to go and stormed to the win. A scary crash erupted in Turn One as Earl Balmer smashed into the guardrail on Lap 186 and spun atop it, throwing debris into the open-air pressbox in the turn.
  • 1976: David Pearson ended a career slump in the Southern 500, taking his ninth win of his magic 1976 season, his first Southern 500 after six wins in the Rebel 500. Richard Petty finished second, the 60th time in their careers Pearson and Petty had finished 1-2 in a Winston Cup Grand National race (the duo would finish 1-2 three more times in their careers with Pearson holding a 33-30 edge).
  • 1977: A huge fight between Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip ended in a crash and Pearson grabbed his second straight Southern 500. Following the race D.K. Ulrich, caught up in the fracas, asked Cale why he'd hit him; Cale replied "I didn't hit you, Jaws did; Jaws Waltrip"- creating a popular nickname for Waltrip.
  • 1979: Pearson achieved vindication at the same track where earlier that year a pit accident cost him his ride with Wood Brothers Racing. Driving Rod Osterlund's Chevrolet while regular driver Dale Earnhardt recovered from late-July injury, Pearson made up a lap when Darrell Waltrip spun out of the lead with 70 laps to go, then spun again some 20 laps later; he lost 12 laps and finished 11th after leading 165 laps. Pearson edged young driver Bill Elliott for the win, his 104th career Winston Cup Grand National win.
  • 1980: Once again Waltrip and Pearson were keys to a shocking Southern 500; this time Waltrip, embroiled in a contract fight with DiGard Racing, led 196 laps from the pole while Pearson once again had to make up a lap, this time driving Hoss Ellington's Chevrolet. But a timing chain broke on Waltrip, ending his race 39 laps from the finish. Benny Parsons grabbed the lead while Pearson got back on the lead lap. A late yellow for Cale Yarborough (who'd had a miserable day with a fuel fire and several earlier spins) set up a five-lap shootout between Parsons, Pearson, and Dale Earnhardt; Pearson took the lead on the restart, Earnhardt passed on Lap 364 but Pearson retook the lead on that same lap, but with two to go all three leaders crashed in Turn One on oil from a backmarker; Pearson limped to the line, but Terry Labonte caught and swung past at the white flag, grabbing his first career win.
  • 1982: The most competitive running of the Southern 500 took place as the lead changed 41 times among 17 drivers. Bobby Allison in the Gatorade #88 led 88 laps before breaking, while Darrell Waltrip in Junior Johnson's Buick led 23 laps before blowing his engine. In all 14 cautions flew and helped set up a four-car shootout involving the cream of stock car racing's old guard (Cale Yarborough and Richard Petty) and the cream of its up-and-coming new guard (Dale Earnhardt and Bill Elliott). Cale edged Petty, Earnhardt, and Elliott for his record fifth Southern 500, and what would be his last victory with M.C. Anderson's race team.
  • 1985: NASCAR's Winston Million program paid out when Bill Elliott took the win in the Southern 500, thus winning three of NASCAR's four biggest races (he'd won the Daytona 500 and Winston 500 earlier in the year). Challenges by Dale Earnhardt and Cale Yarborough fell apart; Yarborough finished second despite breaking a power steering line. The million dollar program made Elliott's winnings the highest in NASCAR history to that point.
  • 1986: Tim Richmond and Geoff Bodine swept the front row and combined to lead 330 laps. Intermittent rain pushed the four-hour contest to darkness. Bodine ran dry and finished eighth while Bill Elliott's attempt to stretch his fuel came short with six to go and he finished third behind Richmond and Bobby Allison. The win was the first at Darlington for crew chief Harry Hyde. Dale Earnhardt hit Richard Petty six laps in and Petty was eliminated; "His mind goes out of gear," said an angered Petty.
  • 1987: Rain shortened the 1987 running after just 202 laps; the battle for the win turned into a showdown between Earnhardt and Richard Petty; Petty gunned past Earnhardt on a Lap 188 restart but Earnhardt retook the lead on lap 191 just before rain brought out what would be the race-ending yellow at Lap 198. Rookie sensation Davey Allison won the pole and led 86 laps but crashed in Turn Four at Lap 164; the crash swept up Lake Speed while Mike Potter spun behind them and was drilled by Benny Parsons.
  • 1990: Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, and Geoff Bodine timed together in the top three and combined to lead 286 laps between them; Bodine faded to eighth while Elliott finished fourth and Ernie Irvan led 70 laps and grabbed second, but no one could catch Earnhardt en route to his third Southern 500 in his previous four starts. The race was famous for a vicious feud between Ken Schrader and Morgan Shepherd; Schrader crashed early in the race after an encounter with Shepherd, then after getting repairs he sped onto the track and rammed Shepherd in the third turn. Shepherd finished 21st while Schrader was parked.
  • 1991: Harry Gant won the Southern 500 for the second time, leading 152 laps while pole-sitter Davey Allison led 151 laps but finished four laps down. Gant's win began a four-race win streak, the first such in NASCAR since 1987.
  • 1992: Davey Allison entered the race with a chance for the Winston Million, but rain interfered, and cut the race short. Harry Gant and Davey Allison combined to lead 163 laps. With rain approaching the area, the leaders cycled through a series of pit stops around lap 292, but a scant handful of drivers stayed out. Allison's Crew chief Larry McReynolds sent a crew member to the NASCAR hauler to look at the weather radar. The crew member's misinterpretation of the radar led to Allison coming in to the pits and changing four tires. Darrell Waltrip was among those who gambled and stayed out, inhered the lead just as the yellow came out for rain on lap 297. The skies opened up, and the race has ended after 298 laps. Davey Allison slid to 5th in the pit stop shuffle, and was denied his chance at the million dollar bonus. The victory would be Waltrip's 84th and final career win.
  • 2003: In the last Southern 500 held on Labor Day weekend until 2015, Terry Labonte led the final 33 laps and held off Kevin Harvick for his last win in the Cup series. The race has been labeled by many as the most popular win of 2003 as everybody was always happy to see Labonte win.
  • 2011: Regan Smith stayed out on a late caution when the rest of the field pitted and sweated out a late crash involving Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch to edge Carl Edwards for his first NASCAR win. The win was overshadowed as Harvick and Busch collided on pit road when Harvick tried to throw a punch at Busch inside his cockpit; NASCAR fined the two drivers and put them on probation after the race.

Past winners[edit]

Year Day Date Driver Team Manufacturer Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
(mph)
Report
Laps Miles (km)
1950 Monday September 4 Johnny Mantz Hubert Westmoreland Plymouth 400 500 (804.672) 6:38:40 75.25 Report
1951 Monday September 3 Herb Thomas Herb Thomas Hudson 400 500 (804.672) 6:30:05 76.906 Report
1952 Monday September 1 Fonty Flock Frank Christian Oldsmobile 400 500 (804.672) 6:42:37 74.512 Report
1953 Monday September 7 Buck Baker Bob Griffin Oldsmobile 364 500.5 (805.476) 5:23:19 92.881 Report
1954 Monday September 6 Herb Thomas Herb Thomas Hudson 364 500.5 (805.476) 5:16:01 95.026 Report
1955 Monday September 5 Herb Thomas Herb Thomas Chevrolet 364 500.5 (805.476) 5:25:25 92.281 Report
1956 Monday September 3 Curtis Turner Charlie Schwam Ford 364 500.5 (805.476) 5:15:33 95.167 Report
1957 Monday September 2 Speedy Thompson Speedy Thompson Chevrolet 364 500.5 (805.476) 5:00:01 100.094 Report
1958 Monday September 1 Fireball Roberts Frank Strickland Chevrolet 364 500.5 (805.476) 4:52:44 102.585 Report
1959 Monday September 7 Jim Reed Jim Reed Chevrolet 364 500.5 (805.476) 4:28:30 111.836 Report
1960 Monday September 5 Buck Baker Jack Smith Pontiac 364 500.5 (805.476) 4:43:34 105.901 Report
1961 Monday September 4 Nelson Stacy Dudley Farrell Ford 364 500.5 (805.476) 4:54:45 117.787 Report
1962 Monday September 3 Larry Frank Ratus Walters Ford 364 500.5 (805.476) 4:14:34 117.965 Report
1963 Monday September 2 Fireball Roberts Holman-Moody Ford 364 500.5 (805.476) 3:51:23 129.784 Report
1964 Monday September 7 Buck Baker Ray Fox Dodge 364 500.5 (805.476) 4:15:01 117.757 Report
1965 Monday September 6 Ned Jarrett Bondy Long Ford 364 500.5 (805.476) 4:19:09 115.878 Report
1966 Monday September 5 Darel Dieringer Bud Moore Engineering Mercury 364 500.5 (805.476) 4:21:31 114.83 Report
1967 Monday September 4 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Plymouth 364 500.5 (805.476) 3:50:15 130.423 Report
1968 Monday September 2 Cale Yarborough Wood Brothers Racing Mercury 364 500.5 (805.476) 3:58:05 126.132 Report
1969 Monday September 1 LeeRoy Yarbrough Junior Johnson & Associates Ford 230* 316.25 (508.955) 2:59:40 105.612 Report
1970 Monday September 7 Buddy Baker Cotton Owens Dodge 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:55:03 128.817 Report
1971 Monday September 6 Bobby Allison Holman-Moody Mercury 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:48:55 131.398 Report
1972 Monday September 4 Bobby Allison Richard Howard Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:54:46 128.124 Report
1973 Monday September 3 Cale Yarborough Richard Howard Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:44:25 134.033 Report
1974 Monday September 2 Cale Yarborough Junior Johnson & Associates Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:30:48 111.075 Report
1975 Monday September 1 Bobby Allison Penske Racing Matador 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:17:28 116.825 Report
1976 Sunday September 5* David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:09:33 120.534 Report
1977 Monday September 5 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:41:48 106.797 Report
1978 Monday September 4 Cale Yarborough Junior Johnson & Associates Oldsmobile 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:17:46 116.828 Report
1979 Monday September 3 David Pearson Rod Osterlund Racing Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:58:14 126.259 Report
1980 Monday September 1 Terry Labonte Billy Hagan Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:21:05 115.21 Report
1981 Monday September 7 Neil Bonnett Wood Brothers Racing Ford 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:57:57 126.41 Report
1982 Monday September 6 Cale Yarborough M. C. Anderson Racing Buick 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:21:00 115.224 Report
1983 Monday September 5 Bobby Allison DiGard Motorsports Buick 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:03:52 123.343 Report
1984 Sunday September 2 Harry Gant Hal Needham Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:54:02 128.27 Report
1985 Sunday September 1 Bill Elliott* Melling Racing Ford 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:08:02 121.254 Report
1986 Sunday August 31 Tim Richmond Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:08:45 121.068 Report
1987 Sunday September 6 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 202* 275.932 (444.069) 2:23:19 115.52 Report
1988 Sunday September 4 Bill Elliott Melling Racing Ford 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:54:27 128.297 Report
1989 Sunday September 3 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:42:03 135.462 Report
1990 Sunday September 2 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:04:16 123.141 Report
1991 Sunday September 1 Harry Gant Leo Jackson Racing Oldsmobile 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:45:18 133.508 Report
1992 Sunday September 6 Darrell Waltrip DarWal, Inc. Chevrolet 298* 407.068 (655.112) 3:09:10 129.114 Report
1993 Sunday September 5 Mark Martin Roush Racing Ford 351* 479.466 (771.625) 3:28:34 137.932 Report
1994 Sunday September 4 Bill Elliott Junior Johnson & Associates Ford 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:55:05 127.952 Report
1995 Sunday September 3 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:08:07 121.231 Report
1996 Sunday September 1 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:41:34 135.757 Report
1997 Sunday August 31 Jeff Gordon* Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:08:17 121.149 Report
1998 Sunday September 6 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:36:21 139.031 Report
1999 Sunday September 5 Jeff Burton Roush Racing Ford 270* 368.82 (593.558) 3:25:15 107.816 Report
2000 Sunday September 3 Bobby Labonte Joe Gibbs Racing Pontiac 328* 448.048 (721.063) 4:08:20 108.273 Report
2001 Sunday September 2 Ward Burton Bill Davis Racing Dodge 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:05:00 122.773 Report
2002 Sunday September 1 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:13:35 118.617 Report
2003 Sunday August 31 Terry Labonte Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:09:08 120.733 Report
2004 Sunday November 14 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:00:33 125.044 Report
2005 Saturday May 7 Greg Biffle Roush Racing Ford 370* 505.42 (813.394) 4:06:29 123.031 Report
2006 Saturday May 13 Greg Biffle Roush Racing Ford 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:42:36 135.127 Report
2007 Sunday May 13* Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:01:50 124.372 Report
2008 Saturday May 10 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:34:19 140.35 Report
2009 Saturday May 9 Mark Martin Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 367 501.322 (806.799) 4:11:19 119.687 Report
2010 Saturday May 8 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:57:35 126.605 Report
2011 Saturday May 7 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet 370* 505.42 (813.394) 3:53:51 129.678 Report
2012 Saturday May 12 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 368* 502.688 (808.997) 3:45:25 133.802 Report
2013 Saturday May 11 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 367 501.322 (806.799) 3:32:45 141.383 Report
2014 Saturday April 12 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 374* 510.884 (822.188) 3:53:37 131.211 Report
2015 Sunday September 6 Report
  • 1969 & 1993: Race shortened due to rain/darkness.
  • 1985: Bill Elliott clinched Winston Million.
  • 1987, 1992, 1999, & 2000: Race shortened due to rain.
  • 1997: Jeff Gordon clinched Winston Million.
  • 2005, 2011, 2012 & 2014: Race extended due to a Green-white-checker finish. 2014 race extended to two attempts.

Multiple winners (drivers)[edit]

# Wins Driver Years Won
6 Jeff Gordon 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2007
5 Cale Yarborough 1968, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1982
4 Bobby Allison 1971, 1972, 1975, 1983
3 Herb Thomas 1951, 1954, 1955
Buck Baker 1953, 1960, 1964
David Pearson 1976, 1977, 1979
Dale Earnhardt 1987, 1989, 1990
Bill Elliott 1985, 1988, 1994
2 Fireball Roberts 1958, 1963
Harry Gant 1984, 1991
Terry Labonte 1980, 2003
Mark Martin 1993, 2009
Jimmie Johnson 2004, 2012
Greg Biffle 2005, 2006

Manufacturer wins[edit]

# Wins Manufacturer Years Won
27 Chevrolet 1955, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014
14 Ford 1956, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1969, 1981, 1985, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2005, 2006
5 Mercury 1966, 1968, 1971, 1976, 1977
4 Oldsmobile 1952, 1953, 1978, 1991
3 Dodge 1964, 1970, 2001
Toyota 2008, 2010, 2013
2 Hudson 1951, 1954
Plymouth 1950, 1967
Buick 1982, 1983
Pontiac 1960, 2000
1 AMC 1975

Television broadcasters[edit]

Year Network Lap-by-lap Color commentator(s)
2015 NBC Rick Allen Jeff Burton
Steve Letarte
2014 Fox Mike Joy Darrell Waltrip
Larry McReynolds
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004 NBC Allen Bestwick Benny Parsons
Wally Dallenbach
2003
2002
2001
2000 ESPN Bob Jenkins Ned Jarrett
Benny Parsons
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995 ESPN
ESPN2
1994 ESPN
1993
1992 Ned Jarrett
Gary Nelson
1991
1990
1989
1988
1987
1986
1985
1984
1983
1982
1981 Ned Jarrett
Larry Nuber
1980 ABC Bill Flemming Chris Economaki
1979
1978
1977
1976
1975
1974
1973
1972
1971
1970
1969
Notes
^1  — During the 1995 Pepsi 400 and Southern 500, ESPN ran a two-channel simulcast (similar to DirecTV's Hotpass). ESPN showed the normal race broadcast, while ESPN2 showed a simulcast featuring on-board cameras only and audio from team radios.


  • 2015: Ken Squier, Ned and Dale Jarrett will return and takeover briefly for Rick Allen, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte, as part it's throwback weekend.[3]

References[edit]

External links[edit]


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