First, before anything else, it feels great to be back on my website with an entirely new look, feeling, and team backing me up. And there’s no better weekend to return to NASCAR coverage than the one that a lot of fans, and drivers, look forward to every year. After all, they were the ones who decided to move this celebration from the Labor Day weekend to Mother’s Day.
Over the years, especially since the return to the Labor Day weekend date, I’ve made it crystal clear what track I enjoy more than any on the season.
There is no track on the circuit that it can be compared to. The straightaways may be the same length, but the iconic shape has become well known. It’s hard on equipment, hard on drivers, but it also has a mystique that cannot be matched.
Add in the fact this facility was the one to welcome the sport back during a pandemic, although did so with restrictions, no qualifying, nor practice, and not one soul in the grandstands. However, that only added to the amazing history this track has.
In the end, what makes this track so unique is that it is tradition.
Darlington has a mystique unlike any other in the sport. This 1.3-mile egg has given us so much, but it also takes so much as well. It’s the track that made NASCAR mandate window nets many years ago, and the track that for years would eat tires like candy, drivers begging for new rubber just one lap into a new run. Everyone wants to dance with the Lady in Black, but at the same time that dance can come at a cost.
Each lap, each corner, one flirts with the lady, getting closer and closer to the outer limits she can hold. Go too far, and she leaves her mark, as a stripe.
Some call it a badge of honor, because they continue to wear it as each lap goes on, knowing that they danced with this ole lady, and they are still rolling.
This new car is going to be earning stripes all afternoon. It’s wider stance, bigger tires, and bigger wake have never seen a track that is this challenging or this strenuous. Some think this track, even at just a 400-mile event, is a more challenging venture than doing 600 miles at Charlotte later this month.
In the end, this weekend is about honoring the past, in many ways. Throwback paint schemes, crews wearing classic uniforms, even teams bringing classic cars that had seen this track in years gone by make the throwback weekend one to always remember. It may no longer be during the traditional Labor Day race any longer, but Darlington having two races a year certainly is a throwback to years gone by in the sport. The last time Darlington held two races a year was in 2004, before the schedule realignment officially gave them the spring date last season.
In 2020, Darlington did have two races. In actuality they had three, with the first two making up for races canceled due to the pandemic. Those came out of necessity, and came with such a different vibe it didn’t feel like a race weekend by any stretch. No crowd, no qualifying; simply unload and go.
Four days later, they did it again. It wasn’t until that fall when some fans were welcomed back, but now, this is what a traditional race feels like at a track still Too Tough To Tame.
It is time to dust off this ole track, and let her show what she can do. Whomever gets this checkered flag is certainly earning it.