Darlington received a fresh asphalt surface over the off-season. While it has always been one of the toughest venues on the circuit, it is now also one of the fastest. 38 drivers broke the old track record of 173.797 mph, set in 1996 after...
Darlington received a fresh asphalt surface over the off-season. While it has always been one of the toughest venues on the circuit, it is now also one of the fastest. 38 drivers broke the old track record of 173.797 mph, set in 1996 after another repaving project.
Bobby Labonte and the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team will start tomorrow night's event from the 10th position. It is their second top-10 start of the season and their best since starting fifth at Atlanta in March. Due to the new asphalt, NASCAR brought the teams in on Thursday for two extra practice sessions. It paid off for Labonte and crew chief Jeff Meendering as the two were able to "dial" in the car on Friday. Labonte is a former Darlington winner and could be in position to get win No. 2 on Saturday night.
"It's been a wild two days of practice and we're lucky that we've been able to keep our car off the wall," sounded Labonte. "The new surface is great, really smooth, but you still have to race the racetrack. We're running around here really fast and it's taken out a few cars. It's still Darlington and you have to be alert every lap. The guys worked hard these last two days and hopefully that work will pay off tomorrow night."
Kyle Petty and the No. 45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge team qualified 35th for the event. Petty and crew chief Stewart Cooper also used the extra practice sessions to their advantage. After the Thursday practices, the team brought back a totally different setup for Friday. It worked as Petty will start his third consecutive race.
"When we unloaded yesterday we were pretty far off," said Petty. "I have to tip my hat to my team because we changed a bunch of stuff today and we're happy with what we have for tomorrow. We had a better car than driver in qualifying because I left some time out there. But we're in good shape for the race."