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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dodge at Darlington Raceway — a look back

— Dodge has five wins at Darlington Raceway – Buck Baker, Buddy Baker (2), Ward Burton and Sterling Marlin. Dodge posted back-to-back wins at the 1.366-mile track in 2001 (Burton) and 2002 (Marlin).
— Buck Baker posted Dodge’s first win at Darlington in the 1964 Southern 500; Marlin scored the last Dodge win at Darlington.
— The No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge driven by Kasey Kahne started from the pole three consecutive races that qualifying was held between 2004 and 2006 (qualifying for the second race in 2004, the last year Darlington hosted two events, was canceled and the field set by owner points).

— Brad Keselowski will be making his 100th career Sprint Cup Series start this weekend at Darlington Raceway. He earned a career best finish of third at last year’s event. He has an average finish position of 7.3 at Darlington in three previous starts.
— A.J. Allmendinger has not qualified outside of the top four in the last three Sprint Cup Series events. He earned Dodge its first pole of the season three weeks ago at Kansas Speedway.

— Dodge drivers have 214 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
— Dodge teams have posted 54 victories since the manufacturer’s return to NASCAR’s premier series in 2001 after being out of the sport since 1977.
— Dodge has posted wins each season since its return in 2001 including seven wins twice (2002 and 2006).

— First Dodge NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Win: Lee Petty, 2/1/53, West Palm Beach, Fla., 100 miles, .5-mile track.
— Last Dodge NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Win: Brad Keselowski, 05/06/2012, Aaron’s 499, Talladega Superspeedway, 160.192 mph avg. speed.

"They tried to change Darlington in 2008 with a total repave of the oldest track in Sprint Cup competition. Team engineers came up with all kinds of alternate plans on how to race the “Lady in Black” in the event that it actually had changed. But not to worry, nothing's changed and it doesn't look like it ever will. Darlington is still the tire shredding, car consuming, fast, and scariest place in this or probably any racing series in the world. Engineering's number one task going into this weekend's race is to figure out every possible way there is to conserve every bit of tire life they can, allowing their driver to make it to the end of 500 grueling miles."
Howard Comstock, SRT Motorsports Engineering

— The Dodge Charger street car is the only rear-wheel-drive model in Sprint Cup Series competition that is available with a V-8 engine.
— SRT Motorsports includes all of Chrysler Group’s NASCAR racing efforts for Dodge and RAM.
— Dodge is an Official Passenger Car of NASCAR.
— SRT Motorsports is competing for championships in all three NASCAR touring series in 2012.

— Entering Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 (Race 11), Dodge’s Brad Keselowski is 12th in the season point standings. He has two wins, three top-five and five top-10 finishes this season. Through 10 races last year, Keselowski was 26th in the standings, 158 points behind the leader with one top-five and one top-10 finish. He has three top-10 finishes in four Cup starts at Darlington.
— Allmendinger’s career-best Darlington finish is 11th (2009).

— 2 – Dodge driver Brad Keselowski has now won multiple races at both Bristol and at Talladega.
— 5 – Brad Keselowski has won five Sprint Cup Series races since Darlington last spring (Kansas, Pocono, Bristol (twice) and Talladega.
— 6 – NASCAR has six jet dryers available for track drying this weekend; it takes approximately 120 minutes to dry the 1.366-mile track after a significant rainfall.

“Getting two wins this early in the season really takes the shackles off what we are able to do over the remaining races before the Chase for the Championship. Right now we are outside the top 10, but that is our No. 1 goal. Knowing that two wins will probably get us in the Chase means we can take some chances and go for wins without really having to pay too close attention to the points. That doesn’t mean we can just throw caution to the wind, but we can be aggressive when we feel like we have the car to do so. I like being able to do that.”
Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger, on what it means to win his second race of the season last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway

“This weekend is gonna be a challenge – every race at Darlington is a challenge because it’s such a tough place. It has historically not been a great race track for me. But the way this season has gone, it’s seems like we’ve had some of our stronger performances on the tracks that haven’t been too kind to me in the past. We’re hoping we can have that kind of ‘flip-flop’ situation again this weekend at Darlington.”
A.J. Allmendinger, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger

“Darlington is one of my favorite tracks. I wish we had more like it on the schedule. It’s just a tough, old racetrack that is nothing like anywhere else we go. I never had the opportunity to race there when the asphalt was worn out and I would have loved that. Hopefully I’ll have a long career and I’ll be able to see it get back to that ‘slipping and sliding’ racing that used to be so cool to watch on TV. Back in the day, the Southern 500 was one of our biggest races. It would mean a lot to me to have that trophy.”
Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger

“It’s always a challenge to run at Darlington. There is a fine line of racing other people and racing the track. You need to find a good race pace and work on handling to keep the car turning from the center out to corner exit. People get in trouble by racing each other too hard and the ‘Lady in Black’ will reach out and grab you. Race hard and race the track and you will put yourself in contention for the win at the end of the night. We’re bringing our Phoenix car this weekend and we had good results with it earlier in the year. Hopefully we can dance with the ‘Lady in Black’ without stepping on her toes.”
Paul Wolfe, crew chief, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger


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