CONCORD, N.C. – Racing under the lights at Darlington Raceway is special, but winning at Darlington is even better.
And that is something Dale Earnhardt Jr. would like to mark off his to-do list.
Currently, Earnhardt has four top-five finishes and nine top 10s at Darlington. He scored his best finish there last April when he crossed the finish line second, but he is still looking for that first win.
Darlington is a place full of history and the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet knows what it means to add his name to the 1.366 –mile track’s history books.
“Any win at Darlington is special,” Earnhardt said. “This place has been around for over 50 years. It’s one of the first race tracks that they built bigger than a half-mile. They were racing on the beach in Daytona when this place was built, so this is kind of the grandfather -- even before Daytona International Speedway was built.”
Darlington Raceway opened its doors in 1950 and that same year was the inaugural Southern 500 race.
“This was the racetrack,” Earnhardt said. “This was the biggest place that anybody had ever seen and any of these guys had ever raced on. It’s held onto that history and has made it very special today to be able to win.”
The track has a unique egg-shape structure with every corner being different from the others. And for drivers, that is one reason why it is a challenging track and lives up to its reputation as being “Too Tough to Tame.”
“It’s a very, very challenging racetrack, a really hard racetrack to get around,” Earnhardt said. “So to be able to survive for 500 miles here is a challenge itself, much less being the guy that can win the race.”
Earnhardt’s teammate Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet, will also be racing for his first Darlington win Sunday night.
Darlington is one of 10 tracks where Hendrick Motorsports has accumulated double-digit wins. And this Labor Day weekend, the organization will be looking to bring home its 15th victory from the historic track.