Darlington Pole Day is the last

"One more time" for drivers in Darlington qualifying DARLINGTON, SC (March 18) -- One more time. One more time into turn one...one more time into turn two...one more time into turn three and one more time into turn four...then the numbers...

"One more time" for drivers in Darlington qualifying DARLINGTON, SC (March 18) -- One more time. One more time into turn one...one more time into turn two...one more time into turn three and one more time into turn four...then the numbers change. This Friday (March 21) will mark the last time drivers will vie for the coveted Busch Pole Award at Darlington Raceway with the start/finish line in its original position. The start/finish line will be moved to the backstretch prior to this year's Labor Day weekend Dura Lube 200 presented by AutoZone and Mountain Dew Southern 500 on Aug. 30-31. This Saturday's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 and Sunday's TranSouth Financial 400 close a chapter in Darlington history. There's never been a driver who slipped-on a helmet who hasn't dreamed of wearing the crown and prestige of winning a pole position at Darlington, but this one is extra special. They know they must be brave so they can grasp the notoriety of conquering the unique, egg-shaped track, in time trials. Fighting a continuous chain of emotion, they must be daring if they want to engrave their name in history for this landmark occasion. "It's going to be special," says Bill Elliott, a five-time Busch Pole Award winner at Darlington, "but every time you qualify at Darlington it's special. When you're on pit road getting ready to go out on your qualifying lap, you start to perspire. You get nervous. "You grip the steering wheel good and tight, take a deep breath, put the car in gear, let out the clutch and give it the gas. It's your time now. Every eye of every person at the track is focused on you. "You start to think, 'should I go into this turn a little faster than in practice or should I play it safe?' It's a psychological game, and you play by Darlington's rules." Elliott is an expert on the matter. He's won more poles at the legendary track than any other active driver (David Pearson is the all-time leader with 12). Geoff Bodine has four top-starting spots, while Ken Schrader has three, including his first career pole in 1987. Ward Burton claimed the first pole of his career during qualifying for last year's TranSouth Financial 400 with a record speed of 173.797 mph. Burton, however, knows the good and bad when it comes to qualifying at Darlington. Yeah, he grabbed the pole for last year's spring classic, but for the Labor Day weekend Mountain Dew Southern 500, it was a different story. "This race track tries to beat you any way it can," Burton admits. "It's tricky and plays mind games with you. Just when I thought I knew how to qualify at Darlington, she slapped me in the face. I tried a little too hard last fall, spun and nailed the wall. I couldn't blame it on anyone but myself. I let my guard down for just a split second and I paid for it." The pit crews, sponsors, media, the fans in the grandstands and of course the drivers will all wait with anticipation to see who wins this monumental pole position at Darlington. Butterflies will dance in their stomach, holding their breath, waiting for the public address announcer to give each driver's speed. It's one lap, and one lap only. It's for all the marbles. One last chance to rewrite history at NASCAR's most historic track. Busch Pole Award Qualifying for the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 is scheduled for 2 p.m. It will set the full field of up to 43 cars for Saturday's 1 p.m. event. Immediately following Busch Series qualifying will be Busch Pole Award Qualifying for the TranSouth Financial 400, which will set the top 25 starting positions. Darlington is offering its fifth-in-a-series "Legends of Darlington Busch Pole Day" collectible ticket, featuring three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip. The commemorative ticket is not only a collectible, but also is good for gate admission to Busch Pole Day. The Diamond Hill Plywood 200 gets the green flag Saturday at 1 p.m. and the TranSouth race gets a 1 p.m. start on Sunday. For tickets to Busch Pole Award qualifying, or reserved seat tickets to either racing event, call the Darlington Raceway ticket office at (803) 395-8499.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Ken Schrader