Darlington: Roush Fenway Racing preview

FAST FACTS David Ragan * Ragan visited Darlington Raceway once in 2007 Cup competition where he qualified 24th and finished 27th. * Ragan is currently 14th in the Sprint Cup point standings, 56 points out of 12th. * Ragan has competed one...

FAST FACTS

David Ragan

* Ragan visited Darlington Raceway once in 2007 Cup competition where he qualified 24th and finished 27th.

* Ragan is currently 14th in the Sprint Cup point standings, 56 points out of 12th.

* Ragan has competed one time in the Nationwide Series at Darlington. In 2007 he qualified eighth and finished 13th.

* Ragan is currently fourth in the Nationwide Series point standings with two top-five and six top-ten finishes this year.

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Greg Biffle

* Biffle has one win, five top-five finishes and six top-10 finish in 10 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at Darlington.

* With the 14-place finish last week at Richmond, Biffle and the team are currently ninth in the point standings, 226 points out of the lead.

* Biffle, however, trails Kevin Harvick in fifth by only 81 points and has a 107-point advantage over Kasey Kahne in the 12th position.

* This weekend Biffle will run the primary 3M paint scheme.

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Matt Kenseth

* Matt Kenseth will make his 15th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Darlington Raceway this weekend in the Dodge Avenger 500.

* In 14 starts at Darlington, Kenseth has achieved one top-five, five top-10 and six top-15 finishes.

* Kenseth's average start at Darlington is 21.9 and his average finish is 19.4.

* Kenseth has completed 4414 of 4635 (or 95.2 %) of total laps attempted at Darlington. He has led a total of 135 laps in Cup races there.

* Back in Black... For the third time in 2008, Kenseth's No.17 Ford Fusion will be painted black with the DEWALT NANO Technology paint scheme. Kenseth will also sport these colors at the All-Star race, Bristol and the second Richmond race in 2008.

* The No.17 crew will be unloading car RK-516 this weekend at Darlington, a brand new car.

* Kenseth and crew are currently 22nd in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.

* In other series...Kenseth will make his 14th NASCAR Nationwide Series start at Darlington this weekend. Sporting the colors of CitiFinancial, Kenseth hopes to enhance his already impressive record at the 1.366-mile South Carolina track. In his previous NNS starts, Kenseth boasts two wins, eight top-five and 11 top-10 finishes.

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Jamie McMurray

* In six starts at the 1.366-mile speedway, Jamie McMurray has three top-10 finishes; two of those finishes were in the top five.

* McMurray averages a 14.1 starting position and a 16.4 finishing position at Darlington Raceway.

* Darlington ranks as McMurray's third-best qualifying track, and his fifth-best overall track on the Sprint Cup circuit.

* Pair of Four's McMurray's best finishes at Darlington came in Aug.2003 and Nov.2004 where he finished fourth in both events.

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Carl Edwards

* Carl Edwards enters Darlington 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings. In 10 starts, Edwards has accumulated three wins, four top-five and six top-10 finishes.

* Edwards will make his fifth Cup start at Darlington this weekend. In his previous four starts, Edwards has one top-five and three top-10 finishes. Edwards has completed 94.2% of the laps attempted at Darlington.

* Edwards will carry the colors of Claritin this Saturday night at Darlington.

* Edwards' best career finish at Darlington came in 2004, when he started fourth and won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Darlington 200.

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David Ragan on racing at Darlington Raceway: "My teammate, Greg Biffle, got to test there a few weeks ago and said the track is really, really smooth and has a lot of speed in it. Only time will tell how the asphalt and how the weather is and how the tires are that Goodyear brings next week. Obviously, you guys are familiar with Charlotte and Las Vegas being paved in the last few years and the situation that we have with Goodyear bringing a real hard tire that's real tough for us to get a handle on and we kind of struggle through the weekend sometimes. Hopefully, they've learned and we've got a pretty aggressive tire for this weekend coming up. Hopefully, it's kind of like the old Darlington, where you can go really fast for a few laps and then the speeds fall off and the times fall off and you see the good old racing, the slipping and sliding. So, like I said, I haven't made a lap on the new track surface. My Nationwide car on Thursday will be the first time that I'll make a lap around the new track, so I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully, they kept some of the same characteristics that everyone knows Darlington to be."

Crew Chief Jimmy Fennig on racing at Darlington Raceway: "Darlington is a unique track and the race usually revolves around tire wear. Luckily for us our teammate tested there a few weeks ago and had some good things to say about the track. David has only raced there one other time in the Cup car, but he's been a quick learner and we should be in for a good race."

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Biffle on racing at Darlington Raceway: "I love racing at Darlington. Obviously I've had some success there so that helps but it's just a fun track. The new surface will make for an entirely different race there than we've ever had before though, so we'll see how it goes. We're going to be running so much faster there than we have in the past. Passing will be difficult but I think there should still be some good racing. Tire wear won't be nearly as much of a factor as it was before the repaving. We ran just as fast on lap 30 at the tire test as we did on the first lap out. I hope what we learned at the tire test gets us off on the right foot this weekend. A good run at Darlington would be exactly what we need."

Crew Chief Greg Erwin on racing at Darlington Raceway: "We're taking the car we finished third with at Las Vegas. We also got some track time down in Darlington for the two tire tests we did for Goodyear. I think Goodyear settled on a tire that will work with the new surface without being way too fast. We will have a little bit of an advantage going into the first practice session after having tested there but we'll have so much practice time over the course of the weekend that I think everyone else will get a chance to catch up. I have to say that I expected a better finish in Richmond last weekend so we need to make up that ground with a top-five finish this weekend in Darlington."

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Matt Kenseth on racing at Darlington Raceway: "Darlington was always a really cool racetrack. It was unique and challenging and, to me, that made it a lot of fun to drive. Now that it's been repaved, I'm interested to see what the racing will be like. We always worried about tire wear at Darlington in the past, because the track was just so rough it was really important to have a good handling car because we slid around so much. With these new cars, this has been an issue every week the cars really slide around a lot anyway, so it's going to be interesting because we really haven't had much luck with the handling on these cars yet. We've been struggling with getting the car to turn through the center without getting it too loose on exit. The handling problems we've had on top of our just awful luck, has made the past few weeks not a lot of fun for me. So maybe we'll catch a break this week, and at least finish on the lead lap.

"We're bringing a brand new car this weekend and I honestly don't know what we'll have. But, hopefully we'll continue to improve and make these cars better to where we can start competing for wins again."

Crew Chief Chip Bolin on racing at Darlington Raceway: "Darlington should be fun. It's going to be challenging like it always is, but this time there's going to be a certain level of uncertainty going in. But, it's pretty much the same for everybody.

"The bottom line is we've got to get our stuff running better, so that we don't run in the back and get caught up in accidents. Our guys have done as good a job as anybody out there, and though our finishes don't reflect that, we've still been running lap times comparable to the leaders each week. We have had just awful circumstances over the past few races, which have made for long dreadful weekends. Our cars aren't performing good enough to consistently run in the top 10 and challenge for wins right now, and that has to change going forward."

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Jamie McMurray on racing at Darlington Raceway: "Darlington is going to be very interesting this weekend with so many unknowns going into the race. After being resurfaced, tracks are typically very fast, and especially with this new car under us, it's going to be very interesting going there this weekend. The practice time on the track this weekend is going to be so important for both a good and successful race on Saturday night. I know Greg (Biffle) tested at Darlington for Goodyear a couple of times, so we'll have to see what his notes were from the test, and what we can do ahead of time to be prepared for this weekend.

"Darlington has traditionally been a pretty good track for me in the past. Last year we started third in the race, and I've had a few top-10 finishes there as well.

"Last weekend was really tough for the No.26 Crown Royal team after being wrecked with not many laps left in the race. Hopefully, we can pick up from that and have a clean, safe race this weekend. We've had fast Ford Fusions over the last few weeks, and hopefully that will remain the same this weekend in Darlington."

Crew Chief Larry Carter on racing at Darlington Raceway: "The setup for this weekend's race is going to be so important. There are so many things you don't know how to setup on the car when you race at the track for the first time after it's been paved. We are fortunate the No.16 team went down there a couple of times for the Goodyear tire test, so we should have some idea of what to expect before we go into the weekend. I think a strong starting spot and some really good track position will be the keys for producing a good finish. Hopefully, if we can just keep our nose clean and have a good race, we'll be there at the end."

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Carl Edwards on racing at Darlington Raceway:

"Darlington is hands down my favorite track on the circuit. The shape of the track is unique one end is different than the other, so you have to set the car up for almost two different types of corners. I really can't say enough about racing at Darlington."

Crew Chief Bob Osborne on racing at Darlington Raceway:

"Darlington is a tough track and not only for the driver. You have to be really careful with the set up of the racecar. The new track surface has a lot of grip and is very smooth. The cars will be very fast and difficult to drive. Carl considers Darlington to be one of his favorite tracks, and we're all looking forward to another good finish here with the Claritin team."

NNS

David Ragan on racing in the Nationwide Series at Darlington Raceway: "It is a tough race track that you must be prepared to deal with. If you have good equipment and a solid pit strategy it can be very rewarding. I have one start at Darlington, so I have to rely on last year's experience and my crew chief's knowledge of the track. The new pavement will be a handful but I am confident we can get around unscathed. If we do our jobs we will come away with a solid finish."

Crew Chief Mike Kelley on racing in the Nationwide Series at Darlington Raceway: "The lady in black" is a special place for all of us in the garage. It is a very fast track that has gotten the best of many good drivers. I am anxious to see how the new pavement will affect track conditions during the race. If we can qualify in the top 10 it will work to our advantage because our Discount Tire Ford Fusion is pretty stout. I lost the closest race in NASCAR history at Darlington in 2003. That place owes me one. We will try our best to tame the track and come away with a great finish."

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Matt Kenseth on racing in the Nationwide Series at Darlington Raceway: "I'm looking forward to seeing what the track feels like now. I liked the old Darlington a lot, we always ran well there. I think it will be the same Darlington, just faster and smoother. It should make for a great race. The CitiFinancial Ford Fusion should be good. We're taking the same car we won at Atlanta with earlier this year. Last weekend didn't go as planned so I'm excited to turn things around and get a strong finish for CitiFinancial."

Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer on racing in the Nationwide Series at Darlington Raceway: "This weekend should be good for us. Matt's record at Darlington speaks for itself and I don't think he'll have any trouble adapting to the new surface. We were wrecked here last year and didn't get the finish we deserved. Hopefully this weekend will go better for us and we'll get CitiFinancial their first win of the year."

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Carl Edwards on racing in the Nationwide Series at Darlington Raceway: "Darlington is my favorite track. It has a lot of history, but also has a personality of its own. There's a reason they call the track 'too tough to tame.' It's a super fast track, but has a unique shape. They have a new surface and I hope that doesn't take any of the fun or mystique away. I was at Darlington Raceway with David Pearson a few weeks ago and he showed me a few ideas about how to go faster at that track. It will be another night race and I would love to collect a victory there with Scotts."

Crew Chief Pierre Kuettel (P.K.) on racing in the Nationwide Series at Darlington Raceway: "We are excited about taking the Scotts Water Smart Ford Fusion to Darlington Raceway. We have had some close calls at Darlington. Carl almost qualified on the pole in 2006, but he brushed the wall on his second qualifying lap causing some minor damage. We didn't want to take a chance with the damage so we fixed it and had to start in the back. We still managed to secure a top-10 finish. Last year we got a top five, so we are getting closer. Darlington is a fast track that is going to be extremely tough to tame this year because of the new surface. I am confident we can challenge for a win this time around."

-credit: rfr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , David Ragan , Greg Erwin , Mike Kelley , David Pearson
Teams Roush Fenway Racing