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McREYNOLDS: Darlington finish symbolic of season's strong start

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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Throughout the weekend at Darlington, "The Lady in Black" was almost saying, "O.K, I'll show you. You think you want to take away one of my races, NASCAR. I'll show you what racing is all about!" The whole weekend, from Friday through Monday, was phenomenal, and through five Winston Cup races, so has this season. We've had five different winners and five different pole winners. There's no question that we are on track to break the modern era record for winners in one season (19) that was set two years ago. We had 18 different winners last year. Also three of the four manufacturers have won now with the only make not winning yet being Dodge.

Racy Lady should keep both races

I want to touch on the possibility of Darlington losing one of their races next year. I know it's hard to fill all the venues in the Carolinas that are within a 150-mile radius of Charlotte. The market does seem to be saturated. There are a lot of venues in markets with only one race that could certainly use two. Also there are places like the Kentucky Speedway that the Winston Cup tour does not visit but would be a popular addition. We've also heard rumor that Darlington's Labor Day weekend classic, the Southern 500, may be run under the lights in the future. The proof in the pudding, so to speak, with Darlington keeping two dates. When we go back there in September, and the grandstands are filled, it may be promising sign for them and for NASCAR. And with the racing that we saw this past weekend, there's a very good chance that this year's Southern 500 could be a big seller after all. Sunday's Winston Cup race had one of the greatest finishes you'll ever see with and beating and banging each other all the way to the finish line. They almost wrecked in turn one after they crossed the line. With Craven getting his first win of the season and beating Busch by two one-thousandths of a second. If it weren't for electronic scoring, it would have been practically impossible to tell who won. It was the closest finish since we started computer scoring in 1993. Before computer scoring, they had to determine winners by looking at pictures. Then in Monday's Busch race, postponed from Saturday because of rain, there was an exciting finish between and . They came to the finish line with two banged-up cars, and McMurray spun out right before crossing the line. Bodine won the race in an unsponsored car, but with the way he's been running, it shouldn't be long before someone puts their logo on the hood of that car. The Truck Series race was exciting on Friday as well with Bobby Hamilton winning that race.

Single-car teams make right off-season moves

Craven's team owner Cal Wells made some changes over the winter, including a crew chief change as Mike Beam joined Richard Childress Racing and Scott Miller, a team coordinator at RCR, joined Wells' team. Miller got his first win as a crew chief. Wells also changed from Ford Taurus to the Pontiac Grand Prix and started his own engine program. To win a race only five races into the season is quite phenomenal, and it was a very popular win. I know you should never say never, but I don't see how you could ever have a closer race with more excitement than we saw this past Sunday at Darlington. Another unique happening at Darlington was 's third-place finish. Robert "Bootie" Barker was another off-season crew chief change, coming over from 's Busch team. The 77 team really has it together, and they are now seventh in the point standings.

Roush has two top-four finishes with top-two cars

probably had the best race car all day long and had a whale of a race. The most critical pit stop -- the last one of the day -- caused a problem for that team with a loose lug nut. Martin had to come back in the pits and restart at the tail end of the lead lap. He just didn't have enough time to get back up to the front. If he hadn't had that problem, he probably would have won that race -- especially considering teammate Busch lost his power steering late in the race. Speaking of Busch, I challenge anyone to say that these guys are not athletes. They practically had to pour him out of the race car after the raced. Think about losing the power steering on your car as you're going down the road, and the engine shuts off. How hard is it to steer that car? That's what Busch had to do the last 30 or 40 laps of that race, and he did it while racing on a track where it's very hard to pass at 150 or 160 miles per hour WITH power steering.

Dale Earnhardt Inc. come back strong

finished fifth in a backup car after crashing with only 10 laps to go in final practice on Saturday. Waltrip and his DEI race team are certainly showing that they are contenders, and they can race well at places other than Daytona and Talladega. Waltrip's third in the points. One final period on Darlington, . finished sixth, which was great for them. They had three top-six finishes in the last three races, which have really helped them overcome those two bad finishes at Daytona and Rockingham. He has moved up to being fourth in points. FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

"Larry McReynolds: The Big Picture" is on bookstore shelves now, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

Check out Larry's web site www.larrymcreynolds.com.

Tagged: Kurt Busch

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