Winner: Matt Kenseth
Kenseth took his No.20 to Victory Lane on Saturday night for the third time already this season despite not having Jason Ratcliff on top of the pit box. After making the switch from Roush Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth seems unstoppable. He fought off teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch as well as Hendrick powerhouses Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to take his first Darlington win. I would keep an eye on Kenseth during these summer months. If he keeps this momentum up, he might just be in the position to win the Sprint Cup Championship this season.
Winner: Jeff Gordon
Gordon made his 700th start in the Sprint Cup Series on Saturday night at Darlington and many pegged him as a possible winner for the Southern 500 but he came up just short. Gordon may not have won his 700th career start, but he did earn himself his 300th top 5 finish with his 3rd place run. Gordon may have made his 700th start, but I don’t see him slowing down, or retiring, any time soon. Gordon is as competitive as ever and with Hendrick still by his side; don’t count his out just yet.
Winner: Denny Hamlin
With his first full race back coming on one of his better tracks, seeing Hamlin finish second Saturday night was good to see. Thanks to the points system for the Chase, Hamlin still has a shot at getting one of the two wild card spots when regular season ends. He just has to be top-20 in points and he needs a few wins. If he takes the momentum from his runner up finish and carries it into the coming weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out with a few trophies by summers end.
Loser: Danica Patrick
This was Patrick’s second time to the Lady in Black. Darlington was basically Patrick’s first Sprint Cup race last season after an awful showing in the 2012 Daytona 500. This year, the Lady in Black didn’t treat the Lady in Green very nicely. During Friday’s first practice, Patrick, on sticker tires, came out of turn two and hit the wall making her team bring out the backup. Her team rushed to get her out on the track for final practice but she didn’t get a chance to make any mock qualifying runs leaving her starting 40th on Saturday. She finished the Southern 500 28th and many laps down. Although it was better than her first showing at the track, Patrick didn’t impress too many this weekend.
Loser: Kyle Busch
Busch led the most laps of the race and looked like he was going to sweep the weekend Saturday night until he started fading, and fast. Busch dropped from the lead to finish 6th. If Busch wants to rally for his first Sprint Cup Championship then he and his team need to figure out how NOT to use up everything they have in the first half of the race.
The Sprint All-Star Race is this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Tune in to see who races their way in and who gets in via fan vote. This race is an all-out, no points, everything on the line race and is going to be one you won’t want to miss. Who will walk away $2 million richer? Tune in Saturday to find out!