NASCAR Cup at Darlington from a NASCAR Fan’s View


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Darlington… The Lady In Black… The Track Too Tough To Tame…


These are all phrases used to describe one of the legendary tracks on the NASCAR circuit. It’s been around since 1950 and, though it has changed over the years, it has never lost its appeal and remains one of the tracks drivers love and hate.


There are several things that are obvious and yet over looked by the casual NASCAR observer and one of them is the shape of the track. It was egg shaped when it was built and it is egg shaped now. Its unique shape makes it a challenge to the drivers that they love and hate (and, yes, I know I just repeated myself) but they do enjoy the challenge it presents to them. If you listen to them talk about about it, they usually make it known it is a challenge and then they follow with a smile and say how much they love it.


Over the course of time, both the casual NASCAR observer and the dedicated fan have heard of the Darlington Stripe. What some don’t realize is that the Stripe is a “badge of honor” and almost every driver (if not all of them) wear it with pride. Well… that is if their “stripe yeilding encounter with the wall doesn’t cause them to have to stop and make repairs so they can continue.


One thing this fan has noticed with the Gen 6 car is that it appears it is usually necessary to make at least a quick pit stop to ge the fenders off the tires after a run in with the wall. Now this is just this fan’s observation but with the Gen 6, the shape of the fenders almost makes contact with the wall a definite stop for repairs. It appears the flare of the fenders folds in over and into contact with the tires. That could prove to be a bit of a problem as the race progresses with the Lady In Black tonight under the lights. No driver is exempt from a tangle with the wall at any time on this track and it is a long race.


I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say the fastest way around this track is near the top. What that means for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 is it will probably be hard to pass and could mean a lot of single file racing during the night. With the increased speeds the Gen 6 cars are running at almost every track, the margin for error is small for the drivers, especially at the Darlington Raceway. There isn’t much racing room and small errors in judgement could become big problems for many in the field.


Kurt Bush is looking very strong for tonight and will start on the pole. Whether or not he will be able to stay up front remains to be seen but he does get around “The Lady” very well and it would not surprise this fan if he finishes at or very near the top spot by the end of the night.


Of course, brother Kyle is looking to make it difficult for Kurt to start on the pole and stay out front all the way to the end and since he started on the pole in the Nationwide race Friday night and won, I expect his chances are good. He starts third tonight, right behind his brother and would like nothing better to make another sweep of the weekend. Of course, both of them will have to contend with Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne, and they start second and fourth. I guess it will depend on where Kurt wants to start from, either the outside or the inside, and that could make a world of difference for the first few laps in particular. This fan thinks Kurt will probably choose the outside starting position, but I guess we won’t know that for certain until the start of the race tonight.


It will be interesting to see how Matt Kenseth of JGR and the Penske teams of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano do tonight considering they will be working without some key personel. From this fan’s view, I don’t expect it to have much effect on their performance. The Penske teams have struggled a bit since NASCAR found the work they were doing with the rear ends of their cars unacceptable. That may have just been the stress of the pending penalties but now that they’re here we will see how they do. As for Matt Kenseth, well, at least from my view, he’s just fast this year and has been strong almost every single week.


The Roush and Petty Fords are still struggling but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them pressing the issue near the front at least for part of the race tonight. I’m not willing to stick my neck out and say Greg Biffle could win tonight or even Carl Edwards. I think it is a possibility one of the Fords could win but not something I really expect.


Like it or not, the Hendrick Teams still look strong with three starting in the top ten and Dale Jr starting sixteenth. Any of the four could be the victor tonight and Jeff Gordon would like nothing better than to take home the trophy on the night he starts his 700th race in a row. Now, I’m not saying he will win, but he usually runs well at The Lady In Black and tonight could be his night.


When I look at the lineup for tonight, I see a lot of possible winners and need to win(ners… ) I haven’t even mentioned Tony Stewart or Ryan Newman (and I really don’t expect them to win) or Clint Bowyer or Martin Truex Jr (and they very possibly could…) I just know tonight is going to be all about track position, being out front and not making any big mistakes either on the track or in the pits. That in itself isn’t easy at The Track Too Tough To Tame…


See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© May 10, 2013 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, and

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