Pressley cherishes challenge of Darlington DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 18, 1998) A week after Robert Pressley experienced most of the emotions common to stock car racing -- pain and happiness, disappointment and excitement, anger and...
Pressley cherishes challenge of Darlington
DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 18, 1998) A week after Robert Pressley experienced most of the emotions common to stock car racing -- pain and happiness, disappointment and excitement, anger and satisfaction -- the ST Motorsports driver returns to the fabled Darlington Raceway looking for his first NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division victory of the year.
Last weekend at the BellSouth Mobility/Opryland 320 at Nashville Speedway USA, a pair of lapped cars contributed to a five-car wreck seven laps short of the finish line and cost Pressley a chance at a win. But the team wants to put that behind them and move onto Darlington where Pressley has tasted victory.
Darlington is a track that's known for its unseen dangers and high-speed calamity, but for Pressley, it's a spot that served as a springboard to a career that has even better days ahead.
Two of Pressley's 10 victories on the NASCAR Busch Series have come on the egg-shaped 1.366-mile raceway, including stirring victories in 1992 and '93 that were the only wins for a NASCAR Busch Series regular against the NASCAR Winston Cup Series stars in a 19-year stretch.
"Winning at Darlington means a lot to a driver because it's a special place," Pressley said after his Kingsford crew put the finishing touches on a new Chevrolet for Saturday's Diamond Hill Plywood 200. "It's a driver's track. For me, it's when I proved I had arrived as a driver on the NASCAR Busch Series."
In 29 NASCAR Busch Series races at the oldest superspeedway in the sport, NASCAR Winston Cup Series regulars have made the trip to Victory Lane 24 times. When Pressley won back-to-back spring races at Darlington, he became the only NASCAR Busch Series regular to win more than one time at the track drivers say is "Too Tough to Tame."
"I don't understand why, but I seem to do better on the really difficult tracks," Pressley said. "Darlington is a difficult place to drive because there's trouble all the way around the place. The walls come up on you very quickly and you have to keep a very high level of concentration or you'll wind up in trouble. And sometimes, even when you're doing everything right, Darlington has a way to jumping out and getting you. Darrell Waltrip once said you never beat Darlington, it just waits for another time to get you. That pretty much says it all."
Trouble came from another direction last week in Nashville. It was a day where Pressley and his teammates went through a full gamut of emotions.
The Asheville, N.C., driver led a race-best 104 laps and was out front when two slower cars -- one running 20 laps down, the other three laps off the pace a blocked his path to a possible victory. The lapped cars crashed and sent Pressley's car into the fourth turn wall. After never running out of the top six positions for the first 313 laps, Pressley was credited with a 31st-place finish.
"What's upsetting is the team has worked so hard since the middle of last year (when they hired Pressley) to get everything right for a win," Pressley said. "The cars are good and the crew has been incredible. We have everything we need, including a great sponsor in Kingsford, to run up front and win races. We were up front all day at Nashville and we were the car to beat. I don't understand why lapped traffic wouldn't get out of the way. I've won 10 Busch Series races, and I'll bet lapped traffic has cost me another 10. Maybe we can do something about that at Darlington."
The pit crew continued their impressive record of not losing a spot in the lineup during regularly scheduled stops. In three pit stops, Pressley maintained his lead twice and second place once after taking on new tires and gas.
"Finishing Nashville in a wreck after leading most of the day was difficult to take," said crew chief Steve Plattenberger. "But we have a new car for Darlington and it's one of Robert's favorite places, if not his most favorite place. As a team, we're going to take the momentum of our success at Nashville and carry it over to Darlington. Although we wrecked the car, it wasn't our fault. Everything that we controlled -- the preparation of the car, the pit stops and Robert's work behind the wheel -- was flawless. We had a win taken away from us at Nashville and now we're going to a track where funny things have a way of happening to cars and drivers. With Robert behind the wheel, I still like our chances."
Source: NASCAR Online