One of the more unique race tracks in motorsports is Darlington Raceway. The egg-shaped 1.366 mile oval called "The Track Too Tough to Tame", sits in the Sandhills of South Carolina and offers a type of racing and history not seen at too many other places along the NASCAR schedule. And that's what makes this place so special.
The track was built over 60 years ago. It narrows on one end and is bigger and sweeping on the other, contributing to a different tact no matter where you go. Combined with the grittiness of the track, there's usually one place every driver will find sooner or later and that's the wall - where drivers earn their Darlington stripe. With all that said, the Nationwide series takes their shot at the 'Lady in Black'. And who might win the Friday night race? Here are the five favorites.
5. Sam Hornish Jr. - He's been near the front all year and in his one Nationwide appearance at Darlington, he finished a strong 11th.
4. Kasey Kahne - He's had a couple Top 10s in-a-row at Darlington, including leading a bunch of laps last year. Kahne along with Turner Motorsports has been very competitive recently so expect them near the front.
3. Elliott Sadler - He had a pole here quite a few years ago but just last season posted a third while leading some laps. He has been near or at the front of the point standings all year because he is always competitive, so he'll be challenging for the win again this year.
2. Brad Keselowski - He's hot and knows how to win. When he doesn't crash, he finishes in the top 15 at Darlington. But he's been near the front lately so expect another battle for the checkers in Darlington.
1. Denny Hamlin - It's his race to lose. No matter what Hamlin's driving, he goes to front at Darlington. He has three firsts and a second over the last four races here and has never been out of the Top 10. Again, this is Denny Hamlin's race so expect another trip to victory lane.
Can you be a longshot and be sitting fifth in points? You can if you're Cole Whitt, a 20 year old rookie from California who has never run at Darlington in a Nationwide car. But, Whitt did drive at Darlington in a Truck last year and sat on the pole - his only time around the tricky track. The darkhorse choice will go to Justin Allgaier who is seventh in points. He's never won but does have two top fives in three attempts at Darlington, along with having led 23 laps over the last two events at the Track Too Tough to Tame.
The race starts at 7:15 PM Eastern Time on Friday night (May 11) and will be telecast live on ESPN2.
Sources - NASCAR, Racing Reference
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.