It’s been called the toughest of all tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. So much so that Darlington (S.C.) Raceway years ago was nicknamed “The Track Too Tough To Tame.”
Darlington is an egg-shaped oval 1.366 miles in length – the odd shape because the western portion of the oval needed a tighter radius on the turns as founder Harold Brasington promised Sherman Ramsey, who owned a farm next to the property, that he wouldn’t disturb his minnow pond when he built the track in 1949.
The odd shape also means that, to find the fast way around the track, drivers run against the outside walls in each turn, sometimes brushing up against the wall and thus earning what has affectionately become known as a “Darlington Stripe” on the right side of the car. And the black marks left on the walls by the tires rubbing up against them all race weekend have led to the track’s other nickname – “The Lady in Black.”
For the third time in her NASCAR career and second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, “The Lady in Green,” Danica Patrick, driver of the green No.10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will meet “The Lady in Black,” when she competes in Saturday night’s Southern 500 Sprint Cup race at Darlington.
Patrick made her NASCAR debut at Darlington last year in the Nationwide Series by starting 15th and finishing and impressive 12th. One night later, she made just her second Sprint Cup start ever and finished 31st.
Her weekend impressed several NASCAR observers as Darlington is known as a track that is tough on first-timers. But “The Lady in Green” completed 513 of 519 laps in her first weekend at “The Lady in Black,” and did so without being in an accident – also a tough feat for a rookie, much less a seasoned veteran.
Patrick returns this weekend hoping to improve on her Darlington resume and perhaps tame the track that is “Too Tough To Tame.”