Race: Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com
Date: Saturday May 9, 2009
Track: Darlington Raceway
Time: 7 pm ET
From the short track on to an intermediate track…we are moving on to Darlington Raceway this Saturday night for another round of punches from the drivers. Although it's an intermediate track, when the lights go on and the sun goes down, the track somehow turns into short-track territory. There's something about night races that just makes the drivers go a little nuts, which is awesome for us fans.
This track is located in Darlington, South Carolina and boasts 1.366 miles of awesome racing surface. The front stretch is 1229 feet as is the backstretch. The turns are all a little different here. Turns 1 and 2 have 25 degree banking, and turns 3 and 4 have 23 degree banking. The frontstretch and backstretch have 3 degrees and 2 degrees respectively. This oval track is one of the best races of the year to watch because of the short-track mentality that carries over from Richmond from last weekend and also because the lights will go down as the drivers buckle up.
If we take a look at the historical winners here, we have to of course talk about Kyle Busch who won the sweep at Richmond last weekend. He is the current champion of this weekend's race and has all the potential in the world to win again. Jeff Gordon also has a couple of wins here as does his teammate Jimmie Johnson. However, I think that we need to watch the Roush drivers try to get back into winning form. Greg Biffle has a two wins here and the Roush guys are due for a win. They have some work to do as they've been making some pretty petty mistakes over the past few weeks, but this track may allow them to get back into the game. This is the style of track that Carl Edwards has a great chance to come back on.
I also think that we need to take a serious look at Tony Stewart. Although he does not have a cup win here, Stewart has a win here in the Nationwide series. With his record thus far this year, I think that he is definitely going to be the guy to watch. He may not have won yet this year, but he is darn close every single weekend. He has 4 top 5 finishes this year along with 7 top tens. At Darlington, his record ain't too bad either. He has 8 top 10 finishes and 2 top 5 finishes. I just think that Stewart's mouth is watering. Anyone who can come into the season as a new owner-driver and run this well has an awesome chance to get to victory lane. Stewart has proven that he is a true talent and that he deservers every finish he's gotten. My money is on Stewart and then on Kyle Busch.
Here's a recap of your current top 12 in points:
1. Jeff Gordon
2. Kurt Busch
3. Tony Stewart
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Kyle Busch
6. Jimmie Johnson
7. Jeff Burton
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Carl Edwards
10. Ryan Newman
11. Greg Biffle
12. Matt Kenseth
As you can see, Stewart is creeping towards that top spot in points, which is awesome for someone in his position. He's certainly matured through this process of owning his own team. I don't think that anyone has managed to pull off such an incredible season as an owner-driver their first time out quite like Stewart has.
This Saturday night, look for some wild wrecks, some pit strategy, and some rivalries to unveil themselves. Darlington, even though an intermediate track, has the personality of a short track and a temper shorter than Kyle Busch's. As the lights go down, so does the patience level here in South Carolina.
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