Darlington Raceway is identified as “The Word Too Tricky to Tame,” but form now not reveal that to Jeff Gordon, because he won there seven times. He tells Fox News Autos editor Gary Gastelu the secret to success on the observe.
NASCAR is maybe now not as you undergo in mind it when racing returns at outdated egg-fashioned Darlington Raceway.
There’ll be no elaborate infield tailgates, inflatable pools or hundreds of American flags that hover above the campers. The grandstands will be empty gray rows, no spectators allowed.
NASCAR’S CHIEF RACING DEVELOPMENT OFFICER ON THE SPORT’S RETURN TO THE TRACK:
Darius Rucker will fabricate a virtual model of the nationwide anthem, Fox Sports will call the tear remotely from a studio in Charlotte, N.C., and the victory lane occasion will be a muted affair void of excessive-fives and hugs. Drivers form now not must shuttle between hospitality events to schmooze with sponsors, and their automobile owners don’t appear to be even expected to be at Sunday’s tear. Most are over 65 and regarded as at possibility for the coronavirus and now not important to behavior a tear.
It could maybe well be unfamiliar and to find nothing admire it did 10 weeks ago when NASCAR final raced earlier than its season become suspended by the coronavirus pandemic. But as sports activities followers all the method by the country hang clamored for dwell action, this is truly a uncommon different for NASCAR to be on my own in the spotlight and showcase its product — maybe even to viewers who hang long expressed zero hobby in stock automobile racing.
There is now not such a thing as a observe or qualifying, and Brad Keselowski will lead the self-discipline to inexperienced at 3: 30 p.m. ET; the lineup become situation in a televised random plan. Most of the drivers final raced March 8 and could maybe opt the inexperienced flag with out a warm-up and no idea if their automobile is correctly difficult to take care of NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway.
Darlington is regarded as one in all the most technical tracks on the circuit.
“I envision other folks are going to be pretty panicked, on the least for the principle few laps,” stated Denny Hamlin, who won the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, the principle of easiest four done races this season.
Hamlin anticipated conservative setups based mostly partly on recordsdata from the Southern 500 final September, NASCAR’s final consult with to “The Word Too Tricky To Tame.” As soon as the drivers hang settled in, Hamlin believes “it’s going to be admire an outdated shoe. I don’t mediate from a TV point of view followers will learn about one thing else diversified than appropriate form a each day tear that they would robotically learn about at Darlington.”
A refresher on where NASCAR left off following its final tear, March 8 at Phoenix:
HARVICK ON TOP
Kevin Harvick is the points leader with four top-10 finishes by four races. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver is winless but did elevate out 2d in NASCAR’s final day day out at Phoenix.
Since joining SHR in 2014, Harvick has a gain at Darlington, six top-10s in six appearances and is coming off consecutive fourth-region finishes on the 1.366-mile oval. But he cautioned against automatic success since the final available notes from the observe are from final September, when the tear started in the day and ended beneath the lights.
“Darlington is a truly soft temperature observe, so I mediate you more or less must adapt because the tear evolves,” Harvick stated. “I mediate the ideal impartial in this instance is to appropriate form now not be in factual self-discipline, strive to salvage your self in the ballpark and be ready to adjust on it so you don’t must hang a rebuild and a reboot.”
RYAN NEWMAN RETURNS
Newman suffered a head ruin when he crashed racing for the gain on the closing lap of the Daytona 500. The pandemic afforded him additional time to heal and Newman has neglected easiest three Cup races.
He tested at Darlington quickly earlier than the season become suspended and obvious then he become match to tear all over again. The 10-week wait become appropriate form bonus time for the motive force regarded as to be most sophisticated to trip.
“I appropriate form admire it since you tear factual up next to the fence,” Newman stated. “It’s routine on both ends, very difficult. It’s appropriate form a quantity of fun to in actual fact hustle the automobile around there.”
MATT KENSETH IS BACK, TOO
Few expected Chip Ganassi to raise Kenseth out of retirement after firing Kyle Larson in April for the usage of a racial slur in an iRacing tournament.
However the 2-time Daytona 500 winner and inclined sequence champion agreed to full the season for Ganassi after a more than a year out of a Cup automobile. Kenseth has never competed at this diploma in a Chevrolet or in NASCAR’s unique aerodynamic package deal, but he’s a inclined Darlington winner and one in all the most revered drivers in the game.
At 48, he’s additionally the oldest driver in the self-discipline and could maybe be entering into the automobile chilly on Sunday after a hiatus of more than 15 months.
“From my standpoint, I’m admire, I don’t want him support,” stated inclined teammate Hamlin. “I do know he offers mighty recordsdata. I mediate he’s presumably going to pick out that program up. He’s my buddy, but I take him appropriate form to defend home at this point.”
NASCAR has rescheduled 20 races initiating Sunday by June, all in Southern states, and the Cup Series will be busy with four events in 11 days.
Reigning sequence champion Kyle Busch and Timmy Hill, breakout extensive name of the iRacing Series tear at some point soon of the shutdown, are taking it even additional as they thought to compete in all seven events scheduled in Might perchance simply.
Busch and Hill are adding Xfinity Series races at Darlington and Charlotte, and a Truck Series tear at Charlotte to their calendar.
Busch had appropriate form been settling into his groove with a pair of top-three finishes earlier than the season stopped. His easiest victory to this point this season become the Truck Series tear at home observe Las Vegas.
LOGANO PUT ON PAUSE
Joey Logano opened the season with novel crew chief Paul Wolfe and won twice in the principle four events to cycle to the tip of Crew Penske.
His momentum has been placed on pause and Logano is winless at Darlington in 11 old races.
Ryan Blaney inked an extension with Crew Penske factual earlier than the shutdown, but practically all industry had been placed on withhold till Alex Bowman presented Saturday he’d signed with Hendrick Motorsports by 2021.
Bowman won at California to affix Logano and Hamlin because the ideal Cup winners this season.
These extensions and the firing of Larson hang seemingly cycled Keselowski to top of the free agent market. He’s in the closing year of his contract with Penske however the ideal inclined sequence champion available.
These additionally in contract years are: Erik Jones, who won at Darlington final year, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, Ty Dillon, Corey LaJoie and Bubba Wallace.
LaJoie on the begin of the season delivered Rick Hendrick a hand-written letter pleading his case to change seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson when Johnson retires on the pause of this season.