RACE PREVIEW

BOJANGLES SOUTHERN 500
DARLINGTON RACEWAY
SEPTEMBER 1st, 6:00 PM CHARLOTTE TIME NBCSN TV
1.366 MILES, 25 DEGREES of BANKING in TURNS 1 & 2, 23 DEGREES in TURNS 3 & 4.

Stages end at 100/200/367 Laps

Here is a track that could have easily gone the way of the North Carolina Motor Speedway (Rockingham) or the North Wilkesboro Speedway; both of which stopped running NASCAR sanctioned races. Once the home of two races a year, it now just hosts one. In 2003 we saw the last Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. When it went away I thought the days of thunder would be over for this incredible egg-shaped speedway. International Speedway Corp. decided to give this track a chance and kept a race date earlier in the year. Lights were added and we’ve had big crowds even though they added more seats. Why? Better marketing? Lower prices? New amenities? Nope, just great close-up racing under the lights and old school night excitement at the ultimate old school track. It is even better now that we are back on Labor Day weekend. Built in 1950 this track began the Speedway era in NASCAR. Called “the track too tough to tame” it could have also been called “the track with no turn the same” because of disproportionately different east and west turns. Add in a very tight racing groove and pavement that eats tires and you have “the track that is very tough to claim” (victory that is). Most racers find it smarter to race the track than to race the other drivers. There are just two races to go before the Playoffs and a win will get you in, that will just ramp up the nerves. Joe Gibbs Racing has four wins in the last ten years and Hendrick Motorsports has two wins in the last ten years but the Hendrick engine shop has three wins and the Toyota/Joe Gibbs Racing motor shop has five wins. The most recent winner was Brad Kesolowski in Team Penske Ford. Big advantage to Toyota and JGR. Will anyone else challenge JGR/Toyota? HMS, Stewart Team Penske or someone else? We’ll find out Sunday night September, 1st.

Tuesday August 27, look for our Top 10 drivers on Intermediate tracks.

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