Entering last Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, there were only two races remaining until the playoffs. Tensions were high amongst winless drivers who could feel their opportunities to reach the playoffs were sliding out of grasp, and even those secured in the playoff field were on edge due to playoff points being available.
It was an active evening on the radio scanner from the very beginning of the race. Ryan Blaney called himself an idiot after he ran into the wall and was forced to pit, and an early wreck between Trevor Bayne A.J. Allmendinger led to frustration from both drivers.
Playoff contender Clint Bowyer’s day came to an early end due to mechanical failure, and he was visibly and audibly frustrated.
“Car’s running like it’s out of fuel,” Bowyer said. “Like I shut it off and it won’t quit. It’s (expletive). I’m (expletive).”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had issues with the track bar, and he said he couldn’t get it down any lower.
Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. were involved in a highly contested battle at the end of Stage 1, which led to Truex edging Larson out in a photo finish.
Cody Ware and Allmendinger collided in Stage 2, and Ware asked his crew, “what the (expletive) was he doing?” Matt DiBenedetto said, “Hey, go to the 51 (Ware) to just quit racing.”
Gray Gaulding’s 83 car hit the wall and nearly collided with Danica Patrick, and Patrick was not pleased.
“(Expletive)! I mean seriously,” Patrick said. “Kiss my (expletive).”
After Earnhardt avoided crashing into the wall, he was a bit disappointed when his crew didn’t offer him any praise for avoiding a bad situation.
“Damn,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t get an ‘attaboy’ or nothing? That was (expletive) awesome!”
Denny Hamlin somehow missed pit road when he needed to pit, but the gaffe didn’t come back to haunt him as he went on the win his second race of the season.
“Yeah, you gave up 10 seconds but you made it all back,” said Hamlin crew chief Mike Wheeler. “Crazy, crazy drive, dude.”
The last race of the regular season is Saturday, Sept. 9 at Richmond Raceway at 7:30 p.m. ET.