2008 Dodge Challenger 500 Preview and Picks

Race: Dodge Challenger 500
Track: Darlington Raceway
Date: Saturday May 10, 2008
Time: 7pm ET
Channel: FOX

This weekend, we move onto the egg-shaped 1.37 mile oval known as Darlington. This tends to be an exciting race, as tempers from the previous weekend at Richmond carry over. This is a great intermediate track that we run only once a year since the reconfiguration of the schedule. It was started in 1949 after ideas of a NASCAR circuit were flying around. The renter of the land did a majority of the labor himself in order to create the speedway. It gets its characteristic egg shape because the owner of the land did not want his minnow pond disturbed; thus, in turns 3 and 4, the track narrows to accommodate his wishes.

The banking in turns 3 and 4 comes out to 23 degrees while turns 1 and 2 hold 25 degree banking. The front and back stretches hold very negligible banking in the grand scheme of things. The front and the backstretch also share the same length of 1,229 feet.


When it comes to potential winners in this race, we need to watch Gordon, Johnson, and the Roush drivers. Kenseth, Edwards, and Biffle all have great intermediate track records. Biffle has won here twice, both in 2005 and 2006. Jimmie Johnson swept the wins in 2004, while Jeff Gordon is the defending champion of the race as well as the winner of the 2002 running. Total, Gordon has 7 wins here if we count back to 1996. If I were to put my money on someone, I would choose between Gordon and Edwards. Simply based on how the drivers have performed in the last few weeks, I think that Edwards and Gordon are strong competitors here. Although Edwards does not have a win, he’s been running very well and has proven to be a contender in virtually every race. If anything, we know the Edwards can run well on an intermediate track. Gordon has picked up the pace a little bit. I do not know if he has what it takes to pull off a win, but I expect to see him trying to defend his title.

If I choose one driver, it will be Carl Edwards. He’s looking to maintain that consistency that he’s had all year. He’s great at these types of tracks, and if he can manage to get enough of his teammates to work with him like they were at the beginning of the season, it would not be a surprise to put Edwards in victory lane.

The top twelve in points as they stand after Richmond are:

1. Kyle Busch
2. Jeff Burton
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Jimmie Johnson
8. Tony Stewart
9. Greg Biffle
10. Carl Edwards
11. Ryan Newman
12. Kasey Kahne

Look for practice to begin late this afternoon and for qualifying tomorrow night. The race is going to be Saturday night, so keep your eyes peeled for another exciting night race.