Southern 500

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The "Lady in Black." Too tough to tame.  Those are nicknames for a track.

Darlington Raceway is part track, part landmark, part trip back in time. Darlington has hosted races for 60 years. Many of these whippersnappers weren’t even alive when Richard Petty, Junior Johnson and Bobby Allison created their respective legacies. For many, the museum tour is as enjoyable as the race.

Still, there’s a reason this track 1.366-mile oval hosts an event every year (Editorial note: Darlington deserves a second race.) The egg-shaped track creates a host of different challenges for drivers. Most will leave with the so-called “Darlington Stripe” across the right side of their vehicles. This car tests tires, brakes, handling, suspension engines, fuel strategy and gobs of other elements. It reminds me of the U.S. Open in golf. You don’t win. You survive.  

Here are some other random facts from the track's website you can use to impress your mom and friends with Saturday night at 7:30 EDT. 
 
  • The banking on the straightaways is two degrees. The banking around turns one and two is 25 degrees. The banking around turns three and four is 23 degrees.
  • My favorite boy band was 98 degrees. They’re touring again.
  • The frontstretch and backstretch are each 1,229 feet.
  • In all, 43 different drivers have won at this track.
  • Fonty Flock, Fireball Roberts and Buck Baker were some of the first winners here. All have cooler names than anyone on tour right now.
  • Why don’t more Sprint Cup drivers have cool nicknames?  I can just imagine the marketing potential of Crazy Legs Keselowski.
  • Jimmie Johnson is the defending race champion.
  • Denny Hamlin has the best average finish among active drives.
  • Jeff Gordon has seven wins here. Still, he only has the sixth best average finishing position.
  • Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr. and Tony Stewart  have your second through fifth best track records here.
  • Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle have also won here at least twice.
  • The track president blogs.
  • Ricky Craven won the closest finish in Sprint Cup History at Darlington, beating Kurt Busch .002 thousandths of a second.
  • There’s free parking if you show up only for the race that Saturday
  • Soft-sided coolers are OK. Hard-sided coolers will get you kicked in the head. At least they upped the allowable size of coolers.
  • The museum, which I hear is really nice, also has extended hours.
  • The track also added new 3-D mapping to help people get around race weekend.
  • Don’t even think about bring a chair with arms to the track. Beach balls too.
  • If you get a pass to the pits, shirts and shoes are required. I can’t believe they have to type that as policy.