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Different Name on a Different Date, Same Race

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ATLANTA

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Such is the case with venerable Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The 55-year-old speedway is in the crosshairs of NASCAR's booming popularity. A staple of NASCAR racing and the Labor Day weekend since 1950 when Johnny Mantz drove his black Plymouth to the win in the first Southern 500, the gritty and fast 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval continues to endure in NASCAR's brave new world. But while it is still a part of the NASCAR fabric, its heritage isn't enough to sustain it as NASCAR's once predominantly Southeastern roots become more and more mainstream. For years NASCAR was saturated in the Carolinas with eight point races at four race tracks - Charlotte, Darlington, Rockingham and North Wilkesboro - before having only four point races at two tracks, and this year, three point races at two tracks. North Wilkesboro fell off the NASCAR calendar following the 1996 season, and the series' February visit to Rockingham last year marked the end of a 39-year relationship. And Darlington, host of two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races since 1960, is down to just one race. But while the name and date of Darlington's 500-mile race has changed, the actual race has not. The same handful of a race track that Mantz navigated is the same track that Home Depot Chevrolet driver Tony Stewart will navigate this weekend with the nighttime running of the Dodge Charger 500. And for Stewart, a driver who honed his skill by manhandling sprint cars on tight, dirt bullrings on his way to NASCAR stardom, Darlington is a throwback to that old school type of racing. And with the majority of NASCAR races now in major media markets catering to advertiser-friendly demographics, the time-warp escape to Darlington is a welcome diversion. For Stewart, currently sixth in points and buoyed by a strong second-place finish last Sunday at Talladega (Ala.), Darlington is a track that suits his old school style.
Team History at Darlington Raceway
Year Event Start Finish Status/Laps Led Earnings
2004 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 8 17 Running/293 1 $101,118
2004 Mountain Dew Southern 500 6 17 Running/366 0 $109.678
2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 28 10 Running/293 0 $103,158
2003 Mountain Dew Southern 500 20 12 Running/367 0 $109,503
2002 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 36 36 Accident/225 7 $83,233
2002 Mountain Dew Southern 500 4 8 Running/367 0 $100,528
2001 %Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 14 16 Running/293 0 $53,735
2001 Pepsi Southern 500 33 4 Running/367 0 $93,900
2000 Mall.com 400 9 4 Running/293 0 $68,230
2000 *Pepsi Southern 500 29 9 Running/328 0 $55,735
1999 *TranSouth Financial 400 10 6 Running/164 0 $44,240
1999 *Pepsi Southern 500 19 12 Running/270 0 $46,620

* Race cut short due to weather.
% Qualifying canceled due to weather, starting position set via car owner points.

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