A lady in black has no preference of who chooses to dance with her, but knows that many will taste her wrath at some point. Her bright white and red walls only cover up what lingers on her dark side. This "Lady in Black" has been part of NASCAR since 1949, and has been chewing up tires for just as long. Saturday night, another chapter got added to a book that has seen many great legends take victory on her unique design and rough surface.
Darlington has earned the slogan of being "Too Tough To Tame" and that is true no matter how many years experience a driver has. Scraping the wall at this 1.3 mile, egg-shaped oval means a driver danced with this lady, and still kept going. It's a trophy in itself, and the paint on the cars shows the ole girl enjoys dancing with everyone.
For one driver to dominate the night, and to truly say he danced with this old track and got the better of it is rare, but on this night, that is reality.
There was no doubt that the best car on the night started out front, then led almost 75 percent of the race, and it's driver had the confidence in his team to make the right calls when needed, while the team relied on his skill to achieve victory. When the checkered flag waved at Darlington, Kevin Harvick raised a toast with his Budweiser, taking home his first win at the track, a win that even now is very prized in the sport, and remembered for years to come.
What is interesting is that dominant car was not chosen in this week's pool by any writer. In fact, many of them still had strong races, but didn't gain or lose positioning. Here's how the points shake out after the Bojangles' Southern 500:
Ryan O'Hara (304) Jeff Gordon finished 7th - 3
Kara Martin (299) Jeff Gordon finished 7th - 2
Sal Sigala Jr (276) Brad Keselowski finished 17th - 2
Dustin Parks (275) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd - 1
Michael Hirshbein (269) Kyle Busch finished 6th - 1
Rob Blount (264) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd - 1
Rob Tiongson (261) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd - 1
Patti Rodisch (257) Jeff Gordon finished 7th - 1
Aaron Rosser (238) Greg Biffle finished 5th - 1
Billy Fellin (232) Denny Hamlin finished 19th - 0
Misan Akuya (209) Tony Stewart finished 9th - 0
James Broomhead (180) Tony Stewart finished 9th - 1
Next Race: After eight races, seven of which were won by different drivers, the first off-weekend has arrived on the season. It came a lot later than it did one year ago, which in one sense makes the season a lot longer, but for some it means a lot of hard work has paid off. Teams that have seen a lot of success thus far do not have to do much to prepare for the next race, while others that have struggled or just haven't been able to complete that full race can now take an extra week to prepare for another opportunity at that trophy.
What everyone is hoping for is at the next race to have that perfect race. Seems very appropriate that the next race happens at a track that has been termed "racing perfection." When NASCAR makes it's way back to competition, it will be a trip to the Richmond International Raceway for a little short-track action.
To all the writers, you have an extra week to decide on who to choose for victory. Picks are due by Thursday, April 24, at 10 p.m. ET for the Toyota Owners 400.