Cup race at Darlington could produce another first-time winner

Joey Logano leads Kyle Larson into a turn at Texas last Monday. Could they compete for the win at Darlington Raceway as well?

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texas Motor Spe

With his win on Monday in the rain-delayed race at Texas Motor Speedway, Joey Logano joins a pretty unique group this season. Joey is now the seventh different winner of a NASCAR Sprint Cup race in seven races in 2014. That obviously begs the question for tonight in the Bojangles’ Southern 500: will this streak continue at Darlington and we go eight for eight?

It used to be at Darlington where you automatically thought of a veteran to be the odds-on favorite to win. It was someone who had been around the "Lady in Black" enough times to know how to take care of their car who then had a realistic chance to win. Now with this new handling package we have in the Sprint Cup series, the talent in our sport and the mentality we have in the garage area, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see a rookie like Kyle Larson winning the Cup race at Darlington, especially after another strong showing by Larson in Friday night’s Nationwide Series race.

Darlington is Darlington but in today’s NASCAR I would say all bets are off in picking a winner for tonight’s race. Sometimes you have to look at the toughest race track we have on the circuit and simply dare her to beat you. I think this car and this new down-force package it has is going to give us a totally different style of race than we have seen in the past at Darlington.

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I also think we should anticipate the unexpected tonight. There is a reason this track is also dubbed "The Track Too Tough To Tame." This is tough old place that quite honestly was never meant to see the speeds we are seeing today. That’s the only way I know how to explain it. It is so narrow. It is so rough and so ever-changing. You simply have to know where every bump, pothole, twist and turn are at that joint to be good at it.

That’s why I mention about how in the past it normally was the veteran who ran up front all day and took home the victory. Now with the car they have today, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for a youngster like I mentioned earlier like Kyle Larson, to say he likes this place and to challenge it.

It’s just a fun, fun race track. Some will go into tonight’s race with a "survival mode" mentality. Some will simply attack it. If you can make peace with the old girl and how you are going to finesse your laps around her, then it can be a really fun race track. If not, your night can quickly become miserable. I think today’s car is making it a lot more possible for more drivers than in years past to be able to do the former rather than suffer through the latter.