Is The Lady In Black Too Tough To Tame?


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Over the years the track at Darlington South Carolina has acquired lasting nicknames. One of those is “The Lady in Black” and another is “The Track That’s Too Tough to Tame.” No matter which one you choose, either one fits the place and a lot of cars will receive their “Darlington stripe” before the day is done (or maybe I should say before the night is done.)

“The Lady in Black” is an interesting race track and it is an exceptional challenge all through the 500 miles for the drivers and crews. There’s not a whole lot new to say that hasn’t been said this week as the teams prepare for the Bojangles Southern 500 and I don’t intend to drag this article out. I do have to make a few comments though…

Even though this is a track that is considered to be too tough to tame, every year someone does tame it and takes home the trophy and ends up in Victory Lane. One thing that hasn’t changed that much and never seems to is that tires are definitely a key to winning. With the challenges that Goodyear has had this year with their tires because of the extra down force from this year’s rules, I can’t help but wonder if tonight might not be another race where the outcome could be decided by those that don’t have tire problems. I really don’t expect any tire problems tonight at the Darlington Raceway but considering what’s been going on over the last several races, there is the remote possibility that there could be problems once again.

Another thing that is always key to winning a Darlington is staying out of the wall and as I mentioned earlier many cars tonight will receive their Darlington stripe. It just depends on how hard they actually hit the wall whether or not it’s going to help or hinder their progress throughout the race. In some ways a brush with the wall in the past has caused cars to handle better. At other times a hard brush with the wall has resulted in someone who could’ve won, finishing the night in the garage area. As at any other time is possible either one of those could happen tonight.

It has been interesting to watch the progress of all the Fords as they have become more competitive, at least judging from the practice and qualifying sessions and it’s possible that someone as unlikely as Marcos Ambrose could win tonight. I don’t mean that as a cut Ambrose because I actually like him and would not mind seeing him win at all. It would be great for him and for the Petty camp in general. In fact I have to admit that the Fords have looked very competitive at times over the last couple of weeks. (Oh, that’s right, Joey Logano did win last week in Ford, didn’t he?)

All of the Chevys are showing up on a regular basis very competitive rights off the trucks. Some of them look more competitive than others and a few of those would be Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson and Kurt Busch. Now they’re not the only ones but they are the ones that stand out in this fan’s mind.

Quite unexpectedly to this fan has been the relative lack luster runs of the Toyotas. That’s not to say they haven’t been competitive but when it came down to the end of several of the races so far, they just haven’t been there. I expect that could very likely change tonight but from this fan’s view, I reckon I’ll have to say that’s a wait-and-see kind of thing.

From this fan’s view I honestly think it’s going to be a Chevy that ends up in Victory Lane tonight but I am having a tough time choosing between several drivers. The obvious would be pole winner Kevin Harvick and a close second choice would be Jeff Gordon. That leaves a lot of room for just about anyone that drives a Chevy in particular a name we haven’t heard mentioned that much this year, Kasey Kahne. In reality, there are a lot of names that could be mentioned here but I just won’t do it.

Tires and no mistakes in the pits just might be keys to victory for tonight’s race. Of course, it seems that we can say that every week but tonight tires will definitely be first choice for every driver and even though they might be able to gain spots by taking two, four is going to be the better choice, at least from this fan’s view…

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© April 12, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, and

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