For NASCAR the Labor Day weekend is a time to pay homage to the drivers from days past with a throwback weekend at Darlington Speedway. In recent years the Xfinity Series drivers have joined in on the fun and have their cars covered with paint schemes from years past.
The Xfinity Series kicks off a double header weekend with the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200. Thirty-eight teams brought cars to celebrate the decade of the nineties. A few of the drivers have even taken on the persona of the original drivers. Some of the drivers are running paint schemes that were seen on the track even before they were born.
And there is a very familiar face in one of those cars this weekend when Dale Earnhardt Jr makes his return to racing after retiring from full time driving two years ago. Just two weeks ago, Jr and his family were involved in a firey plane crash in Bristol, Tennessee.
In Friday practice Denny Hamlin crashed his car and had to move to a backup car; as a result, he will have to start the race from the back of the field.
After single car qualifying Ryan Blaney put his number 12 car on the pole and will bring the field to green. Christopher Bell will start alongside Blaney on the front row.
Stages one and two of the race are 45 laps each with stage three lasting 57 laps for a total of 147 laps around the mile and a third egg shaped track.
Ryan Blaney brings the field down for the green flag and gets out in front for the lead as drivers are already running up against the wall.
Only two laps into the race and Denny Hamlin has moved up to 21st place after starting last.
Lap four, Ryan Blaney has pulled out to a lead of over a second over Justin Allgaier. After starting on the front row, Christopher Bell is falling through the field.
Lap nine, Ryan Blaney’s lead is now over two seconds on Tyler Reddick.
Complaining of a really, really, really tight car; Denny Hamlin has moved up to 13th place.
John Hunter Nemechek brings out the first caution flag of the race on lap 13 when he gets loose and spins out.
Ryan Blaney brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 17, but it is Tyler Reddick who gets out in front for the lead after a push from Christopher Bell.
After making a pit stop for adjustments, Denny Hamlin restarts the race in 25th place.
Lap 19, Tyler Reddick has a half second lead on Ryan Blaney.
Driving the number eight car, Dale Earnhardt Jr is driving the paint scheme that was on the car when his dad ran his first race in 1975.
Lap 24, Denny Hamlin has moved up to 16th place with 34 cars on the lead lap.
Lap 25, Tyler Reddick holds on to his half second lead on Ryan Blaney.
With 12 laps remaining in stage one, Tyler Reddick is in the lead with Ryan Blaney a half second back.
Lap 38, Denny Hamlin is up to 12th place.
Tyler Reddick has pulled out to a lead of a second and a half on Ryan Blaney with Christopher Bell in third nearly three seconds back.
Denny Hamlin is reporting some sort of issue with his left front tire.
Three laps remain in stage one, Tyelr Reddick holds on to a second and a half lead on Ryan Blaney.
Tyler Reddick wins stage one.
The top 10 at the end of stage one:
Dale Earnhardt Jr
Tyler Reddick wins the race off of pit road with Christopher Bell coming out in second.
Tyler Reddick brings the field down for the green flag start of stage two on lap 53 and edges out Christopher ell for the lead. Brandon Brown gets into the wall and brings out the caution flag.
Tyler Reddick brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 57 from the inside lane and gets out in front for the lead.
Lap 57, Ryan Blaney challenges leader Tyler Reddick for the lead but Reddick held on to keep the top spot.
Lap 60, Tyler Reddick is in the lead; Denny Hamlin is now in the top 10 in eighth place.
Lap 62, Tyler Reddick has a lead of nearly half a second on Ryan Blaney with 26 cars on the lead lap.
Lap 68, Tyler Reddick holds on to a half second lead over Ryan Blaney.
Lap 72, Denny Hamlin has moved up to the sixth place.
Lap 73, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney are the only drivers so far to lead the race.
Lap 74, Ryan Blaney is on leader Tyler Reddick’s bumper and challenging for the lead.
Lap 76, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney make contact but both drivers save the cars and Tyler Reddick holds on to the lead.
Lap 80, Tyler Reddick holds his half second lead on Ryan Blaney with Justin Allgaier in third.
Lap 82, Denny Hamlin is in the fifth position.
Lap 85, Ryan Blaney gets around Tyler Reddick to take the lead.
Three laps remain in stage two, Ryan Blaney has a lead of over half a second on Tyler Reddick with Justin Allgaier in third.
Lap 89, Justin Allgaier gets around Tyler Reddick for second as Ryan Blaney leads the race. Justin Allgaier gets into the wall but the track stays green.
Ryan Blaney wins stage two.
The top 10 at the end of stage two:
Dale Earnhardt Jr
Ryan Blaney wins the race off of pit road with Tyler Reddick coming out second.
Ryan Blaney brings the field down for the green flag start of stage three on lap 98 and holds on to the lead as drivers battle for the second spot.
Justin Allgaier hits the wall again but the track stays green.
Lap 101, Ryan Blaney continues to dominate the race; Dale Earnhardt Jr has moved up to sixth place.
Lap 109, Ryan Blaney leads the race with Cole Custer in second with Denny Hamlin on the move in third place.
Lap 111, Ryan Blaney has a lead of nearly a second on Cole Custer with Denny Hamlin just over a second back.
Lap 115, Ryan Blaney has a lead of over half a second on Denny Hamlin who finally got around Cole Custer for the second position.
Justin Allgaier has a very loose car and has hit the wall yet again.
Lap 121, Denny Hamlin has come from starting in las place to leading the race. Hamlin has five Xfinity Series wins at Darlington and is looking for number six.
With 25 laps remaining in the race, Denny Hamlin leads the field by over half a second on Ryan Blaney with 21 cars on the lead lap.
Lap 131, Denny Hamlin leads the field. This is the first time that Hamlin is looking for a win without starting from the pole.
The caution flag comes out on lap 133 when Josh Williams gets loose, makes contact with Landon Cassill, and spins out.
Just before the caution flag came out, Justin Allgaier reported a possible flat tire.
While fuel is not an issue, the track is very abrasive and rough on tires; the teams come down pit road for fresh tires.
Denny Hamlin wins the race off of pit road.
From the outside lane, Denny Hamlin brings the field down for the green flag restart with just 10 laps remaining in the race. Hamlin edges out Cole Custer for the lead.
Six to go, Denny Hamlin has a lead of nearly half a second on Cole Custer with Tyler Reddick in third; Ryan Blaney and Christopher ell round the top five. Dale Earnhardt Jr is in sixth place. Jr reported before the start of the race thath is goal for today was to have fun.
Three to go, Cole Custer is on leader Denny Hamlin’s bumper but has yet to get close enough for a pass.
Denny Hamlin takes the white flag.
Fending off a last corner challenge from Cole Custer, Denny Hamlin wins his sixth Darlington race in the Xfinity Series.
After the race, Denny Hamlin’s car failed post race inspection and he was disqualified. Hamlin was moved to last place and Cole Custer was named the winner of the race.
The official results of the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200:
Dale Earnhardt Jr
Ray Black Jr
John Hunter Nemechek
Tommy Joe Martins