Race: Bojangles Southern 500
Date: Saturday May 12, 2012
Track: Darlington Raceway
Time: 6:30 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Betting Handicapper, Predictem.com
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All in all, I really enjoyed the Talladega race! Brad Keselowski proved that he’s coming into his own after driving away from the push of Kyle Busch to win the Aarons 499 on Sunday. It’s rare that someone leading the last lap actually wins Talladega. That is because that second place car can generally get a run and drive around the first place car coming to the checkers. Needless to say, Busch pushed Keselowski around Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne but failed to drive around Brad. Honestly, I was impressed by that. Busch is one of those guys you never want to see in your rearview mirror on the last lap because he has a record for doing whatever needs to be done to get the win. Unfortunately for him, Brad never gave him that opportunity as he simply drove away from Busch and the rest of the field.
This weekend, we are heading to a track that is pretty unique in the series. Darlington is a 1.366 mile oval with 25 degrees in turns 1 and 2, 23 degrees in turns 3 and 4, and 6 degrees on the frontstretch and backstretch. The stretches are each 1229 feet making this track a true oval. Darlington is an old track with a lot of history, with its completion coming way back in 1950. It joins the ranks of Martinsville as almost historic in terms of its NASCAR memories.
What makes Darlington the track that is “too tough to tame”? The configuration and speed are two of the biggest factors. As a true oval, the track is narrower at one end making it egg-shaped. Because of the different bankings and widths on each end of the track, crews have a hard time effectively setting up cars to run well. Cars are generally too loose or too tight at one end or the other. The driver who has a car that handles perfectly here will be the driver who wins. Handling is everything! Speed is also another factor that generally affects the rookie drivers. Because it is so difficult to set up cars effectively, speed carried into the turns seems to cause rookies to loose control gaining them none other than the Darlington stripe.
When we take a look at the good drivers here, we are going to expect to see the veterans at the front of the field. I wouldn’t expect to see too many newbies running at the front simply because of the skill it takes to win here. That being said, my pick to win is Kyle Busch. He was coming on strong at Talladega last weekend and has the know-how to get it done at Darlington. Additionally, he’s had success here in both the Nationwide and Cup series. Here’s a rundown of the potential winners this weekend:
Pick to Win: Kyle Busch
Middle of the Road Pick: Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse Pick: Regan Smith
Smith won the race last year with a dominating car, which is unheard of from someone with such little experience here. If the rest of the field is knocked out of contention and Smith has another amazing car, he could go to victory lane again. Truex, on the other hand, has a real shot. It was a shame that he was knocked out at Talladega because he had a very strong run going. Regardless, we all need to watch for Busch. These types of tracks that you have to battle on to win are the ones that he excels at.
Stay tuned this weekend for some exciting night racing at the track that is too tough to tame!
Did you know… that you can bet driver vs. driver matchups at BetOnline? Trying to pick one winner out of a full field is tough! Betting on driver vs. driver matchups gives you a 50% shot and even better if you think you have an edge by handicapping the race!