|NASCAR Cup Series|
|Location||Darlington, South Carolina, United States|
|Corporate sponsor||Cook Out|
|Distance||501.322 miles (806.800 km)|
Stages 1/2: 115 each
Final stage: 137
|Previous names||Southern 500 (1950–1988)|
Heinz Southern 500 (1989–1991)
Mountain Dew Southern 500 (1992–1997, 2001–2004)
Pepsi Southern 500 (1998–2000)
Dodge Charger 500 (2005–2006)
Dodge Avenger 500 (2007)
Dodge Challenger 500 (2008)
Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com (2009)
Showtime Southern 500 (2010–2011)
Bojangles' Southern 500 (2012–2019)
|Most wins (driver)||Jeff Gordon (6)|
|Most wins (team)||Hendrick Motorsports (11)|
|Most wins (manufacturer)||Chevrolet (27)|
|Length||1.366 mi (2.198 km)|
The Southern 500, officially known as the Cook Out Southern 500 for sponsorship reasons, is a NASCAR Cup Series stock car race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina, United States. The race distance is 501 miles (806 km) and consists of 367 laps. From 1950 to 2003, and again since 2015, the race has been held on Labor Day weekend. The Southern 500 is largely considered one of the Crown Jewels of the NASCAR calendar, and has been nicknamed NASCAR's "oldest superspeedway race." For decades, the race has been considered by competitors and media as one of the more difficult and challenging races on the NASCAR schedule, owing much to the track's unusual, asymmetrical egg-shape, rough pavement, and overall unforgiving nature. Darlington Raceway itself has a long and storied reputation as the "Track Too Tough to Tame."
The Southern 500 has a storied history, including Bill Elliott famously winning the Winston Million in 1985, and Jeff Gordon doing the same in 1997. It is also the site of Darrell Waltrip's final career victory (1992).
Through 2004, Darlington held two Cup series races annually, the Southern 500 in the fall, and a 400-mile event in the spring. In 2004, the Southern 500 was moved to November and was run as the second-to-last race in the inaugural Chase for the Championship. The following year, as the result of a settlement in the Ferko lawsuit, Darlington lost one of its two dates. The 500-mile race was moved to the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend in May and renamed for the sponsorship of Dodge. The race was held as a night race under-the-lights during this period.
The event re-assumed the Southern 500 name in 2009, and in 2015, moved back to its traditional Labor Day weekend date. From 2015 to 2020, the race weekend has been themed "NASCAR Throwback," with many cars fielding "Throwback" paint schemes (the revitalised spring race has taken that role in 2021). Since 2020, the event is currently scheduled to take place as the first race of the NASCAR playoffs.
The trophy features photos of all the past winners of the race.
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 majors 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.
The Southern 500 was one of the last races on the circuit to embrace naming rights in its title. In 1989, the race added Heinz as a title sponsor, but kept the traditional "Southern" moniker in its official name. From 1992 to 2004, it was sponsored by PepsiCo products (Pepsi or Mountain Dew).
From 1950 to 2003, this annual event was traditionally held on Labor Day weekend (typically the first weekend of September). In the years before 1984, the race was held on Monday, Labor Day itself.
For the 2004 season, a realignment 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. Also, it meant the race would be part of the new Chase for the Championship. 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.
Starting in 2005, Darlington was forced to contract down to one race per year. Officials replaced Darlington's two events with one 500-mile race. Besides, the event's traditional moniker "Southern 500" was dropped for the time being. The race was situated on the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend in mid-May. Mother's Day weekend was a date that was mostly avoided by NASCAR. In recent decades, the Nashville 420 had used the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend for a time until it was discontinued in 1984. Moving the Darlington race to May loosely mimicked the period in which the spring race, once known as the Rebel 500, was held on or around Confederate Memorial Day.
Dodge, which had been sponsoring Darlington's 400-mile spring race at 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 re-adopted the generic moniker of "Southern 500." Track officials and fans were anxious to revive the traditional name. GoDaddy 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 to 2011 before Bojangles' took over in 2012. It remained on Mother's Day weekend through 2013, under the name Bojangles' Southern 500.
While enjoying renewed success in attendance and popularity in May, there was still desire by some fans, media, and others to move the race back to its traditional Labor Day date. Especially after replacement races (Fontana and Atlanta) failed to gain any foothold on the desirable Labor Day weekend holiday slot. Bruton Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports even offered to buy the Darlington track to return it to Labor Day weekend and "get it back where it belongs."
In 2014, the race switched dates with the spring Kansas race, and ran in the second weekend in April. 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.
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 2015 Southern 500 would return to its traditional Labor Day weekend slot, the first time since 2003. To combat the issue of heat and humidity that had resulted in the race originally being moved, the race is currently run Sunday night of Labor Day weekend, under the lights, with temperatures being cooler than they are during daytime hours.
To celebrate the return of the race to its traditional weekend, a concerted and highly publicized effort among NASCAR, the track, and teams were made to theme the weekend a "NASCAR Throwback." Thirty-two cars in the 43 car field ran throwback paint schemes during the event, with various other throwback aspects planned throughout the weekend. It was announced days before the race that legendary broadcasters Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett would announce part of the race. Some hour into the broadcasting, Squier, and the Jarretts called the race lap-by-lap for about an hour. NBC, which also utilized its logos from the 1970s during the broadcast, was widely praised by many for bringing back old memories in the sport. The success of the event led to a nomination for Sports Event of the Year.
Due to the success and popularity in 2015, the "Throwback" theme for the weekend was run from 2015 to 2020. In 2021, with the reinstatement of the second weekend during the 2020 season, the theme was moved to the spring meeting in order to allow playoff teams to focus on the playoff. The Labor Day weekend races (1950–2003) and the November race (2004), have been combined with the ten May/April races (2005–2014) and the Labor Day weekend races since 2015, to create a continuous lineage of the Southern 500 dating from 1950 to present.
Bojangles' ended its title sponsorship of the race after the 2019 race.
While still being held on Labor Day weekend, the Southern 500 became the first race of the NASCAR playoffs' Round of 16 due to NASCAR ending the season a week earlier than usual, at Phoenix Raceway. The race was previously held in the playoffs when it began in 2004. Cook Out, which had sponsored with Darlington Raceway as the official quick-service restaurant of the track, assumed naming rights for the Southern 500. Starting in 2021, the throwback round theme was moved to the newly reinstated spring date, held on Mother’s Day.
|Year||Day||Date||No.||Driver||Team||Manufacturer||Race Distance||Race Time||Average Speed||Report|
|1950||Monday||September 4||98||Johnny Mantz||Hubert Westmoreland||Plymouth||400||500 (804.672)||6:38:40||75.250 mph (121.103 km/h)||Report|
|1951||Monday||September 3||92||Herb Thomas||Herb Thomas||Hudson||400||500 (804.672)||6:30:05||76.906 mph (123.768 km/h)||Report|
|1952||Monday||September 1||14||Fonty Flock||Frank Christian||Oldsmobile||400||500 (804.672)||6:42:37||74.512 mph (119.915 km/h)||Report|
|1953||Monday||September 7||87||Buck Baker||Bob Griffin||Oldsmobile||364||500.5 (805.476)||5:23:19||92.881 mph (149.477 km/h)||Report|
|1954||Monday||September 6||92||Herb Thomas||Herb Thomas||Hudson||364||500.5 (805.476)||5:16:01||95.026 mph (152.930 km/h)||Report|
|1955||Monday||September 5||92||Herb Thomas||Herb Thomas||Chevrolet||364||500.5 (805.476)||5:25:25||92.281 mph (148.512 km/h)||Report|
|1956||Monday||September 3||99||Curtis Turner||Charlie Schwam||Ford||364||500.5 (805.476)||5:15:33||95.167 mph (153.156 km/h)||Report|
|1957||Monday||September 2||46||Speedy Thompson||Speedy Thompson||Chevrolet||364||500.5 (805.476)||5:00:01||100.094 mph (161.086 km/h)||Report|
|1958||Monday||September 1||22||Fireball Roberts||Frank Strickland||Chevrolet||364||500.5 (805.476)||4:52:44||102.585 mph (165.095 km/h)||Report|
|1959||Monday||September 7||7||Jim Reed||Jim Reed||Chevrolet||364||500.5 (805.476)||4:28:30||111.836 mph (179.983 km/h)||Report|
|1960||Monday||September 5||47||Buck Baker||Jack Smith||Pontiac||364||500.5 (805.476)||4:43:34||105.901 mph (170.431 km/h)||Report|
|1961||Monday||September 4||29||Nelson Stacy||Dudley Farrell||Ford||364||500.5 (805.476)||4:54:45||117.787 mph (189.560 km/h)||Report|
|1962||Monday||September 3||66||Larry Frank||Ratus Walters||Ford||364||500.5 (805.476)||4:14:34||117.965 mph (189.846 km/h)||Report|
|1963||Monday||September 2||22||Fireball Roberts||Holman-Moody||Ford||364||500.5 (805.476)||3:51:23||129.784 mph (208.867 km/h)||Report|
|1964||Monday||September 7||3||Buck Baker||Ray Fox||Dodge||364||500.5 (805.476)||4:15:01||117.757 mph (189.512 km/h)||Report|
|1965||Monday||September 6||11||Ned Jarrett||Bondy Long||Ford||364||500.5 (805.476)||4:19:09||115.878 mph (186.488 km/h)||Report|
|1966||Monday||September 5||16||Darel Dieringer||Bud Moore Engineering||Mercury||364||500.5 (805.476)||4:21:31||114.830 mph (184.801 km/h)||Report|
|1967||Monday||September 4||43||Richard Petty||Petty Enterprises||Plymouth||364||500.5 (805.476)||3:50:15||130.423 mph (209.895 km/h)||Report|
|1968||Monday||September 2||21||Cale Yarborough||Wood Brothers Racing||Mercury||364||500.5 (805.476)||3:58:05||126.132 mph (202.990 km/h)||Report|
|1969||Monday||September 1||98||LeeRoy Yarbrough||Junior Johnson & Associates||Ford||230*||316.25 (508.955)||2:59:40||105.612 mph (169.966 km/h)||Report|
|1970||Monday||September 7||6||Buddy Baker||Cotton Owens||Dodge||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:55:03||128.817 mph (207.311 km/h)||Report|
|1971||Monday||September 6||21||Bobby Allison||Holman-Moody||Mercury||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:48:55||131.398 mph (211.465 km/h)||Report|
|1972||Monday||September 4||12||Bobby Allison||Richard Howard||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:54:46||128.124 mph (206.196 km/h)||Report|
|1973||Monday||September 3||11||Cale Yarborough||Richard Howard||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:44:25||134.033 mph (215.705 km/h)||Report|
|1974||Monday||September 2||11||Cale Yarborough||Junior Johnson & Associates||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:30:48||111.075 mph (178.758 km/h)||Report|
|1975||Monday||September 1||16||Bobby Allison||Penske Racing||AMC||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:17:28||116.825 mph (188.012 km/h)||Report|
|1976||Monday||September 6||21||David Pearson||Wood Brothers Racing||Mercury||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:09:33||120.534 mph (193.981 km/h)||Report|
|1977||Monday||September 5||21||David Pearson||Wood Brothers Racing||Mercury||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:41:48||106.797 mph (171.873 km/h)||Report|
|1978||Monday||September 4||11||Cale Yarborough||Junior Johnson & Associates||Oldsmobile||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:17:46||116.828 mph (188.016 km/h)||Report|
|1979||Monday||September 3||2||David Pearson||Rod Osterlund Racing||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:58:14||126.259 mph (203.194 km/h)||Report|
|1980||Monday||September 1||44||Terry Labonte||Billy Hagan||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:21:05||115.210 mph (185.413 km/h)||Report|
|1981||Monday||September 7||21||Neil Bonnett||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:57:57||126.410 mph (203.437 km/h)||Report|
|1982||Monday||September 6||27||Cale Yarborough||M. C. Anderson Racing||Buick||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:21:00||115.224 mph (185.435 km/h)||Report|
|1983||Monday||September 5||22||Bobby Allison||DiGard Motorsports||Buick||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:03:52||123.343 mph (198.501 km/h)||Report|
|1984||Sunday||September 2||33||Harry Gant||Mach 1 Racing||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:54:02||128.270 mph (206.431 km/h)||Report|
|1985||Sunday||September 1||9||Bill Elliott*||Melling Racing||Ford||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:08:02||121.254 mph (195.139 km/h)||Report|
|1986||Sunday||August 31||25||Tim Richmond||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:08:45||121.068 mph (194.840 km/h)||Report|
|1987||Sunday||September 6||3||Dale Earnhardt||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||202*||275.932 (444.069)||2:23:19||115.520 mph (185.911 km/h)||Report|
|1988||Sunday||September 4||9||Bill Elliott||Melling Racing||Ford||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:54:27||128.297 mph (206.474 km/h)||Report|
|1989||Sunday||September 3||3||Dale Earnhardt||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:42:03||135.462 mph (218.005 km/h)||Report|
|1990||Sunday||September 2||3||Dale Earnhardt||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:04:16||123.141 mph (198.176 km/h)||Report|
|1991||Sunday||September 1||33||Harry Gant||Leo Jackson Racing||Oldsmobile||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:45:18||133.508 mph (214.860 km/h)||Report|
|1992||Sunday||September 6||17||Darrell Waltrip||DarWal, Inc.||Chevrolet||298*||407.068 (655.112)||3:09:10||129.114 mph (207.789 km/h)||Report|
|1993||Sunday||September 5||6||Mark Martin||Roush Racing||Ford||351*||479.466 (771.625)||3:28:34||137.932 mph (221.980 km/h)||Report|
|1994||Sunday||September 4||11||Bill Elliott||Junior Johnson & Associates||Ford||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:55:05||127.952 mph (205.919 km/h)||Report|
|1995||Sunday||September 3||24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:08:07||121.231 mph (195.102 km/h)||Report|
|1996||Sunday||September 1||24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:41:34||135.757 mph (218.480 km/h)||Report|
|1997||Sunday||August 31||24||Jeff Gordon*||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:08:17||121.149 mph (194.970 km/h)||Report|
|1998||Sunday||September 6||24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:36:21||139.031 mph (223.749 km/h)||Report|
|1999||Sunday||September 5||99||Jeff Burton||Roush Racing||Ford||270*||368.82 (593.558)||3:25:15||107.816 mph (173.513 km/h)||Report|
|2000||Sunday||September 3||18||Bobby Labonte||Joe Gibbs Racing||Pontiac||328*||448.048 (721.063)||4:08:20||108.273 mph (174.249 km/h)||Report|
|2001||Sunday||September 2||22||Ward Burton||Bill Davis Racing||Dodge||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:05:00||122.773 mph (197.584 km/h)||Report|
|2002||Sunday||September 1||24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:13:35||118.617 mph (190.896 km/h)||Report|
|2003||Sunday||August 31||5||Terry Labonte||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:09:08||120.733 mph (194.301 km/h)||Report|
|2004||Sunday||November 14||48||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:00:33||125.044 mph (201.239 km/h)||Report|
|2005||Saturday||May 7||16||Greg Biffle||Roush Racing||Ford||370*||505.42 (813.394)||4:06:29||123.031 mph (197.999 km/h)||Report|
|2006||Saturday||May 13||16||Greg Biffle||Roush Racing||Ford||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:42:36||135.127 mph (217.466 km/h)||Report|
|2007||Sunday||May 13*||24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:01:50||124.372 mph (200.157 km/h)||Report|
|2008||Saturday||May 10||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:34:19||140.35 mph (225.87 km/h)||Report|
|2009||Saturday||May 9||5||Mark Martin||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:11:19||119.687 mph (192.618 km/h)||Report|
|2010||Saturday||May 8||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:57:35||126.605 mph (203.751 km/h)||Report|
|2011||Saturday||May 7||78||Regan Smith||Furniture Row Racing||Chevrolet||370*||505.42 (813.394)||3:53:51||129.678 mph (208.697 km/h)||Report|
|2012||Saturday||May 12||48||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||368*||502.688 (808.997)||3:45:25||133.802 mph (215.333 km/h)||Report|
|2013||Saturday||May 11||20||Matt Kenseth||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:32:45||141.383 mph (227.534 km/h)||Report|
|2014||Saturday||April 12||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||374*||510.884 (822.188)||3:53:37||131.211 mph (211.164 km/h)||Report|
|2015||Sunday||September 6||19||Carl Edwards||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||367||501.322 (806.799)||4:28:35||111.993 mph (180.235 km/h)||Report|
|2016||Sunday||September 4||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Furniture Row Racing||Toyota||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:57:54||126.437 mph (203.481 km/h)||Report|
|2017||Sunday||September 3||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:46:34||132.761 mph (213.658 km/h)||Report|
|2018||Sunday||September 2||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:48:54||131.408 mph (211.481 km/h)||Report|
|September 1–2||20||Erik Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:44:46||133.825 mph (215.370 km/h)||Report|
|2020||Sunday||September 6||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||367||501.322 (806.799)||3:47:26||132.256 mph (212.845 km/h)||Report|
|# 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|
|Greg Biffle||2005, 2006|
|Jimmie Johnson||2004, 2012|
|Denny Hamlin||2010, 2017|
|Kevin Harvick||2014, 2020|
|# Wins||Team||Years Won|
|11||Hendrick Motorsports||1986, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998,|
2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009,
|7||Joe Gibbs Racing||2000, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2015,|
|4||Junior Johnson & Associates||1969, 1974, 1978, 1994|
|Roush Racing||1993, 1999, 2005, 2006|
|Wood Brothers Racing||1968, 1976, 1977, 1981|
|3||Herb Thomas||1951, 1954, 1955|
|Richard Childress Racing||1987, 1989, 1990|
|Richard Howard||1972, 1973|
|Melling Racing||1985, 1988|
|Furniture Row Racing||2011, 2016|
|Team Penske||1975, 2018|
|Stewart-Haas Racing||2014, 2020|
|# 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,
|16||Ford||1956, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965,|
1969, 1981, 1985, 1988, 1993,
1994, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2018,
|7||Toyota||2008, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016,|
|5||Mercury||1966, 1968, 1971, 1976, 1977|
|4||Oldsmobile||1952, 1953, 1978, 1991|
|3||Dodge||1964, 1970, 2001|