|Busch's relationship with the "Lady" has been give and take|
Darlington is NASCAR’s oldest track. Johnny Mantz won the first race in 1950 and it’s been running strong ever since, challenging drivers to the highest degree among any current track. Superstarrs like Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth have never won at Darlington over their careers, which should give some kind of example of how tough the Lady is.
This weeks race will be the 220th Sprint Cup race run during its history. Jimmie Johnson won for the third time of his career at Darlington in the last race run there in 2012. Johnson is 6-to-1 to win this week.
The thing that makes the Lady so tough is due to two vastly different ends of the track where the banking is steep, but also at different degrees. All four of the turns present separate challenges for the drivers, and Busch says the track is getting closer to the way it used to be.
"I’m hearing that the track color has changed a little bit more with another year for the surface to mature," said Busch in his weekly press release, "so maybe the grip level is not going to be old Darlington, but something similar.”
Jeff Gordon has had one of the more storied careers in Darlingtion history with seven wins, and he‘ll be making his 700th Cup start this week.
“I’ve been fortunate to race this long and have the type of career I’ve had,” said Gordon. “It’s really cool to see that this will be my 700th start, but it’s not something I really paid attention to.
“It’s hard to believe I’ve run that many – especially consecutively.”
It's also hard to believe that Gordon hasn't won since 2007 because he and the Lady have got along better than most. She let Gordon win four straight Southern 500's from 1995-98 when the Southern 500 run on Labor Day weekend was considered one of the biggest wins in NASCAR. He's finished fifth or better in seven of his past nine Darlington races.
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