Darlington's still too tough to tame - NOTES by Lugnut - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

NASCAR NOTES: Darlington's still too tough to tame

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"

Last week's white-knuckle action at Talladega pitted driver against driver. This week it's a battle of another form as they try to defeat a "Track Too Tough to Tame" in Darlington, SC.

Darlington Speedway was the first paved superspeedway in NASCAR's early history. Its egg-shaped layout makes it difficult to set your car up and the sandpaper-style racing surface eats tires like candy.

It's one of those places where history has been made since 1950 and the mark of a good night is when the right side of your car is covered with black stripes from rubbing the outside wall.

The race winners at Darlington read like a hall of fame list as many of the sport's all-time greats have found their way to victory lane on the crown jewel of the NASCAR series.

Jeff Gordon is the most successful active driver in Saturday night's Bojangles' Southern 500 with seven wins. Despite his success, the four-time Cup Series Champion knows that patience and respect is more important than driver skill at Darlington.

"They repaved Darlington a few years back so it's not the same track it used to be 10 years ago," Gordon said. "But it's still one of those tracks where you have to push hard but be patient. And it's one of those tracks you have to respect."

Saturday's race marks the 10th anniversary of one of Sprint Cup's most thrilling finishes. Ricky Craven led by just one lap, but it was the one that counted as he edged Kurt Busch for the win by a mere 0.002 seconds. That win still stands as the closest margin of victory in series history.

"In the end, it just came down to a few inches," recalls Ricky Craven about his last lap battle with Kurt Busch. "You don't script it. It's not something that you plan for. For the last few laps, I can tell you there were two guys that emptied the tank."

We might not see another finish like we had 10 years ago again. However, one thing is certain; the winner will have to defeat a race track that doesn't like to be tamed and there will definitely be a Darlington stripe somewhere in the equation.

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