DARLINGTON, S.C.(May 8, 2012) - Although Darlington Raceway can reach out and "bite," the ingredients are there for the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger team to post a positive result in the Bojangles' Southern 500 on Saturday night at the egg-shaped oval.
Jeff Gordon, who leads all active drivers with seven wins at Darlington, enjoys each trip to the South Carolina track. But respect is needed if he is to once again conquer the "Track Too Tough To Tame."
"I'm always excited about the trip to Darlington," said Gordon, who is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. "This has been one of my favorites since I started racing in NASCAR.
"It's a track you have to attack. It's a track you have to respect because you are on the edge. Those ingredients have suited me and our team well over the years."
Along with seven wins, Gordon has three poles, 18 top-fives and 21 top-10's in 31 starts at the 1.366-mile track. He also has led 1,720 laps - more than double the amount of any other driver competing in Saturday night's race.
"This is a very tough track and it's a challenge just to stay off the walls," said Gordon. "It's a big transition (from straightaway to apron to turn) that is very narrow.
"The track can reach out and bite you in a hurry."
Survival will be key Saturday night, and against more competition than normal.
"Darlington is the 44th competitor," said Gordon. "There is very little room for error here and you're doing everything possible to go fast but stay off the wall.
"And that is when you are out there by yourself. If we drove by ourselves for 400 or 500 miles here, we would still probably hit the wall at some point.
"The challenge goes up 10-fold with other cars on the track. This is definitely a track you have to respect and do everything you can to stay off the wall and survive. "At the same time, you have to be faster than the competition."
A recipe Gordon has perfected seven times before.