|Smith's 2011 win at 500-to-1 odds is highest ever NASCAR payout in Vegas|
If looking at who's win was more shocking, its easily Smith's simply because restrictor-plate racing at places like Talladega allow for up to 35 drivers to have a legitimate shot. At Darlington, the track "Too Tough to Tame" called "The Lady in Black", we go back to racing where the elite teams are supposed to have a considerable edge. In Smith's case, he ran the perfect race and "The Lady" was in a forgiving mood.
Darlington is the oldest track on the NASCAR circuit, running races annually since 1950. It's the toughest track on tour for the drivers to navigate because of it's 1.366 mile configuration with four drastically different turns. There is no other track to compare it to, which makes it not only hard for the drivers to adapt to each time out, but also for the crew chiefs to set up their cars properly.
Whoever makes the proper adjustment during the Friday practice sessions and during Saturday night's race, will have an edge. Coming into this race with the new Gen-6 car, there are up to 16 drivers that have a legitimate shot at winning. Smith proved a long-shot can win, and we have seen drivers like Ricky Craven (40/1) and Ward Burton (25/1) win there among giants, but Darlington wins are usually reserved for the elite.
From a horsepower and handling standpoint, you could look at the top performers from the races already run on 1.5-mile tracks at Las Vegas, Kansas and Texas to get a head start on handicapping the race, which immediately takes us to the Joe Gibbs drivers.
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