DAMA DE PRETO (LADY IN BLACK): For the second race in a row, Nelson Piquet Jr. will face a new track as he attempts to tame the "Lady in Black," Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, a 1.366-mile intermediate-length track with short track characteristics. Two of Piquet Jr.'s three top-10 finishes in 2010 came at intermediate tracks (Texas Motor Speedway [1.5-miles] and Michigan International Speedway [2.0-miles]). The egg-shaped oval also has 23 to 25-degree banking, which allows the track to carry speeds similar to a 1.5-mile track. Expect the No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado to exceed speeds of 165 m.p.h.
NUMBER 300: Just one week after celebrating its 300th Nationwide Series start, Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) will hit the same milestone in the Truck Series this weekend in Darlington. In their previous 298 starts, KHI trucks have earned 33 wins, 119 top fives, 177 top 10's and two Truck Series championships.
TOO TOUGH TO TAME...FOR NOW: In the 10 years since KHI made its debut in the Truck Series, the team's truck program has visited Darlington five times. The track that's "Too Tough to Tame" has eluded KHI as one of the eight tracks on the current Truck Series schedule that the team has yet to earn a win, and is one of 10 tracks where KHI has not earned a Truck Series pole. However, the team is close to crossing Darlington off the list. In 2010, Ron Hornaday earned KHI's best Truck Series start at the track (fifth) and also scored the organization's best Darlington finish of third.
CHASSIS HISTORY: The No. 8 team will utilize chassis No. 048 this weekend at Darlington Raceway. This is the same chassis Piquet Jr. drove to a 13th-place finish two weeks ago at Phoenix International Raceway. Chassis No. 048 is no stranger to success. Kevin Harvick won the pole and visited victory lane in the truck's maiden race at Gateway (Ill.) International Raceway in 2010.
PREVIOUS RACE RECAP: In his first trip to Phoenix International Raceway, Piquet Jr. navigated the No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado through a caution-filled race to earn a 13th-place finish at the challenging 1.0-mile tri-oval. Piquet Jr.'s quick reflexes and skillful navigation allowed him to skirt multiple wrecks which unfolded directly in front of his truck before scoring a solid top-15 finish.
THOUGHTS FROM THE DRIVER: Nelson Piquet Jr.
How do you feel going into the race at Darlington Raceway?
"I think the learning curve is going to be a lot like it was in Phoenix. It's going to be another weekend where I'm learning the track and trying to gain as much experience as I can. I hope that some of what I learned in Phoenix will apply when we get to Darlington, but they're obviously different tracks with different characteristics and different challenges. I think the best thing I got out of Phoenix was the experience of racing so closely with the other drivers and having the opportunity to bump and push and make contact with the other trucks. That's definitely going to come into play this weekend."
THOUGHTS FROM THE PIT BOX: Chris Carrier
How do you think your rookie driver is going to do this weekend at Darlington?
"I think this track is really going to suit Nelson. With his natural driving ability, truck control and fast reflexes, I feel that this could be a really good weekend for him."
What does it take to race well at Darlington?
"The biggest thing you need is a well-balanced, well-driving truck. The truck needs to handle so well that it gives the driver the resolve to be bigger than the challenge that the track presents to him. The track is extremely fast and narrow since it was repaved a few years ago, and the trucks reach speeds way beyond what the track was originally designed for. If your truck drives really well and the driver can predict what it's going to do, it allows him to drive the racetrack without having to focus on driving the truck. It also doesn't hurt to have some good fabricators and some big hammers on hand, because no matter how experienced your driver is or how good your truck is, it isn't a question of if, but more a question of when you're going to hit the wall and earn that Darlington stripe."
Does Darlington drive like a short track or an intermediate track?
"It's definitely a mix of the two. The track is fast, grippy and smooth like an intermediate, but it still requires the technical skills of a short track. There's no room for mistakes at Darlington, and there aren't as many grooves as there would be at an intermediate. If you mess up and move up a groove, you might wind up in the parking lot."