WBKR NASCAR Specialist Blake Smith Previews the Bojangles’ Southern 500, Saturday night at 5:00 p.m. on WBKR.

Since 1950, NASCAR’s top division has been visiting the historic South Carolina track known as The Lady in Black. This weekend will mark the series’ 109th visit to the 1.366 mile oval. Even though there have been 108 races at the speedway, there have only been 45 different winners. Darlington International Speedway is a tough, old track with lots of speed. Not all drivers are able to tame the lady.

We will see this weekend if the lady is kind to another lady, Danica Patrick. She will make her 2nd start of the season at Darlington.


When you think of Darlington, the term Darlington stripe comes to mind. The Darlington stripe is the stripe on the driver’s car after he makes contact with the turn 3 and 4 walls. The track painter will have a busy weekend ahead of him after this weekend’s events. The reason why turns 3 and 4 are so treacherous is … a minnow pond? That’s right. When the track was configured, it had to be configured around a minnow pond outside turns 3 and 4. That area of the track is noticeably narrower than its counterpart in turns 1 and 2.

Hendrick Motorsports has 13 wins at Darlington, more than any other organization. Hendrick has plenty of motivation to get into victory lane for their 200th victory, as they currently are in in their longest winless streak since 2002. Hendrick’s Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 7 wins. This could be the weekend the #24 has been looking for as they currently set 24th in season standings. My pick for this weekend’s Southern 500 is Jeff Gordon.

- Blake Smith