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Race Day: Moms Welcome

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 8 2010

Paint jobs are taking a beating at Darlington this weekend. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

For auto racing families, nothing says “I love you, mom” quite like ear-busting noise and 98 octane gasoline. So, this weekend – Mother’s Day weekend – at Darlington, the moms of several drivers will be at the track.

Here is what a select group of drivers had to say about having their mothers at Darlington for tonight’s Showtime Southern 500:

Jeff Gordon: “I’m excited that she’s going to be here tomorrow night.  This is always a weekend that we look forward to hanging out.  She played such a huge role in my racing career that having her here walking across the stage and being able to honor all of the moms this weekend is huge.  Of course, also with (Gordon’s wife) Ingrid being pregnant and mother’s day and it’s significance, it’s a big day around the Gordon household. That’s for sure.”

Carl Edwards: “It’s really cool to have mom and (wife) Kate and (daughter) Anne – all of them here.  My mom is just unbelievable.  She’s supported me and been my best friend.  She’s just been really cool and always been behind me, so it means a lot to have her here. I’m really excited about having Kate here.  It’s her first Mother’s Day as a mom. I still really haven’t gone shopping yet, but I’m gonna work on something. Maybe tomorrow morning we’ll do something nice, but it’s cool. To be able to have all the guys out there with their moms for the race, that’s always really cool. They all like talking to one another, but my mom has helped me a lot.”

Fast facts

What: Showtime Southern 500

Where: Darlington Raceway

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: Fox, 7 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 128

Track layout: 1.366-mile oval

Race distance: 367 laps/501 miles

Estimated pit window: 50-55 laps

Qualifying: Friday, 5:10 p.m. ET

2009 winner: Mark Martin

2009 polesitter: Matt Kenseth

Today’s polesitter: Jamie McMurray

Trivia time

Who is the all-time Cup lap leader at Darlington?

Just wondering

Two cars in the field tonight will have paint jobs honoring the election of members of the NASCAR-founding France family’s to the new Hall of Fame. So, just wondering if either of those cars will fail to pass post-race inspection.

Wall woes

Cars were slamming into the walls at an alarming rate on Friday. Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit walls twice in practice. At least a dozen others were forced to backup cars for the race because of contact with the walls.

What’s up?

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “It is slick. I mean, I got my car pretty comfortable. I liked my lap times. Wish I could get a little more comfort in the car. You know, we are just getting on the edge right there. This track is real smooth and you can find that edge. There is a lot of load change like landing into turn one and then the load comes out of the car through the center and then the load increases on the second apex. There is a lot of dynamic wedge going in and out of the car through the corner. The car just really changes a lot as you are going around the corner and it can just snap on you, it is real easy.”

Darlington Odds and Ends

Youngest pole winner: Kurt Busch (23 years, 29 days)

Oldest pole winner: David Pearson (47 years, 8 months) 15 days)

Youngest race winner: Kyle Busch (23 years, 8 days)

Oldest race winner: Harry Gant (51 years, 7 months, 22 days)

Races won from the pole: 19

Last pole winner to win: Dale Jarrett (3/23/97)

Most cars to start: 82 (1951)

Most lead changes: (41) 1982)

Most races: Richard Petty (65)

Most poles: David Pearson (47)

Most victories: David Pearson (47)

Most top-fives: Richard Petty (65)

Most top-10s: Bill Elliott (52)

Most lead-lap finishes: Mark Martin (43)

Restart mayhem

Kyle Busch was asked if expected late-race restarts to produce crashes.

Busch: “Potentially, especially getting into Turn One.  Guys are going to be going for broke. The guys on the outside are going to try to hang out there. The guys on the inside are going to try to hang in there. Turn One and Turn Two.  Turn Two is probably going to be more pivotal.  You can get through One side-by-side but once you get going through the center of One and Two and into Two, somebody’s gotta give.  If nobody is going to give, then there’s not going to be a whole lot of room for error over there.”

Trivia Answer

Dale Earnhardt led 2,648 laps at Darlington. That is the most of any driver.

Up next

The Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey’s Milk and Milkshakes at Dover International Speedway. It is scheduled for next Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern. Fox will broadcast the race.

Jimmie Johnson swept Dover last season.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 8 2010
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