The Frontstretch: That's History! NASCAR's Checkered (Flag) Past, One Story at a Time: Darlington Stripes by Amy Henderson -- Monday May 8, 2006

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NASCAR returns to the original Superspeedway this week. At a mile and a third and paved, the high-banked Darlington Raceway was unlike anything most of the drivers in its first race, the Southern 500, had ever seen. How that race would go was anybody’s guess, and some of the goings-on couldn’t have been imagined beforehand.

But what about the 102 races since that first one? What else has happened at this egg-shaped speedway in South Carolina? Here, for your perusal, are some of the more, well, useless facts"¦

Did you know:

  • The record for most laps led in a 500-mile race at Darlington has not changed since that first Southern 500 in 1950? Johnny Mantz led 351 laps en route to his win that day, something no driver has done since.
  • When Ricky Craven beat Kurt Busch to the line by less than an eyeblink for the win in the 2003 Spring race, that final lap was the only lap Craven led all day?
  • Nine times, the same driver won two Cup races in a season at the Track Too Tough to Tame? Dale Earnhardt was the only driver to sweep the season twice, in 1987 and 1990. The last driver to complete the sweep was Jimmie Johnson, in the last year the Lady In Black hosted the series twice, 2004.
  • Jimmie Johnson’s victory in the last-ever Southern 500 made Rick Hendrick the all-time winningest owner at the track? Hendrick had been tied with another Johnson – the legendary Junior – with ten victories.
  • That both Lake Speed and Speedy Thompson have visited Victory Lane at Darlington?
  • Joining Johnny Mantz in the category of "first Darlington Race Winner" are Geoffrey Bodine (Busch Series, 1982) and Bobby Hamilton (Craftsman Truck Series, 2001)?
  • When local businessman Harold Brasington first proposed building a paved Superspeedway in Darlington, most other local businessmen thought the idea was ridiculous? They thought that big-time auto racing would never find a home in this small town.
  • There has been just one car on the lead lap when the checkered flag fell on a Darlington Cup race? That this has happened twenty-four times?!
  • You will find even more Darlington facts in Friday’s Nextel Cup and Busch Series editions of Race Trax, right here on the Frontstretch?

There you have it, some totally useless facts about the Mother of all Tracks, Darlington Raceway. Perhaps at this track more than almost any other, you can say, "That’s History!"

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©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

 

Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
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Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.