For the first time in six years the Camping World Truck Series is back at the Lady in Black, the Darlington Raceway. After a brief hiatus following a victory by Sprint Cup Series regular Kasey Kahne, the trucks have found their way back south for a stand-alone event on Saturday night.
Since their last visit, the track has been repaved and the trucks have gotten stronger and faster. The 32 trucks entered this weekend will need it when taking to the raceway where the racing is bound to be exciting, expect plenty of sparks, and maybe some tempers, flying under the lights.
The Too Tough To Tame 200 will consist of 147 laps around the 1.366-mile track and a new winner will be crown. That could include a first-time winner following the likes of Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon who each accomplished the feat earlier this year, as well as a first time victor at Darlington.
None of the previous winners of this event – Bobby Hamilton in 2001 and 2003, Ted Musgrave in 2002, and Kahne in 2004 – are entered in Saturday’s field.
It leaves the door open for another driver to experience the thrill of victory and it won’t come easy. Beware of the Darlington Stripe as it’s called, which will be out in full force, no truck will leave the racetrack and not have a sign that they've visited Darlington. Whichever driver can take a licking and keep on ticking will be able to say they tamed Darlington at the end of the night.
Outside of the big picture however, there’s more to watch then just the point race between Todd Bodine and Almirola, or who will be the first to the checkered flag. Here are three things to watch entering the Too Tough To Tame 200.
Todd Bodine Only Driver in the Field With Darlington Victory
It didn’t come in his No. 30 Germain.com Toyota, but Bodine will be the only driver on Saturday night that has won at Darlington in the past. The victory came in dramatic fashion back in 2003 when he and Jamie McMurray waged a war to the finish of the Nationwide Series race.
McMurray went sliding toward the infield wall and Bodine slid across the finish line for the victory.
He enters the 15th race of the 2010 CWTS season with a 174 point lead over Almirola and will be counting on his past experience to help him hang onto and expand his lead. If he wins on Saturday night it will be his second in a row, coming off a victory last weekend in Nashville and third of the season.
Bodine made history earlier this year when he won for the sixth time at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Winning at Darlington though, isn’t just any other race win; winning at Darlington shows you are the toughest of the tough. The Onion of the truck series wants to stink up the show on Saturday and show everyone that you’ll have to beat him for the championship as he looks to beat everyone else to the checkered flag on Saturday.
Says Bodine entering the weekend, “Every corner is different. It’s fast, it’s aggressive, it’s Darlington – I love it.”
Dodge Looking to Make it Five-For-Five at Darlington
Between 2001 and 2004 when the truck series came to Darlington there was one manufacturer that would always end up in victory lane: Dodge. Bobby Hamilton, Ted Musgrave, and Kasey Kahne were all behind the wheel of a Dodge truck.
Saturday night when the trucks return to the raceway for the fifth time the manufacturer will return undefeated and looking for another trip to victory lane. They’ll have four trucks in their stable that will be ready to try and get the job done.
Butch Miller will be behind the wheel of the No. 21 SS Green Light Racing machine for Steve Urvan. Miller has only competed in four of the 14 races this season and consequently sits 48th in the points.
In the No. 46 Team Gill Racing truck will be J C Stout for owner Joy Gill. As like Miller, Stout has also not competed in every race of the 2010 season, only running seven events. He sits 31st in points entering the weekend, but with high hopes.
Next comes the No. 95 of Dillon Oliver. Also driving for Team Gill Racing, but under ownership of Danny Gill, Oliver will be looking to qualify for only his second start of 2010. He qualified for Nashville in April where he started 25th and finished 23rd.
The bullet in the Dodge gun that could be their only shot to take the checkered flag is the No. 23 of Jason White. When the season started in Daytona in February it was White who captured the pole, the first of his career.
Now in his in third full year of competition in the truck series, still looking for his first career win, White has impressed many and proven that if everything goes according to plan he can be a contender. Entering Saturday nights race he sits 10th in the point standings with four top 10 finishes and one top five.
The GunBroker.com Dodge had an engine problem last weekend in Nashville, but White will be ready to try and tame Darlington. It'll come with with extra motivation as he tries to join friend Denny Hamlin as a winner at the raceway. Hamlin went to victory lane in May during in the Sprint Cup race.
Nothing Beats Experience for Ken Schrader
Of every driver in the field this weekend, none will have the experience of running at the Darlington Raceway that Ken Schrader carries. At the reins of the No. 2 truck for Kevin Harvick Inc Schrader wouldn’t be a surprise to end up in victory lane.
The former NSCS driver has 55 starts at the Lady in Black, 43 in the cup series, nine in the Nationwide Series and he’ll make his fourth start in the trucks on Saturday. With as much as he’s raced at the track though, he’s never been able to pull off a victory, but driving for KHI certainly makes him one step closer.
The No. 2 truck has been involved in four champagne sprays this season, team owner Kevin Harvick at the wheel of three of them, while Elliott Sadler was the most recent just two weeks ago in Pocono.
Schrader has logged over 14,000 laps at the facility with four poles, seven top fives, and has 20 top ten finishes under his belt. When looking for a safe pick on Saturday, fans won’t have to look too far.
“Darlington is a track where I have a lot of Cup Series starts, so I’m pretty familiar with its characteristics and challenges,” Schrader said. “Some people call that ‘character,’ while others call it ‘frustrating,’ but make no mistake about it, Darlington is unique.”
“There will never be another track like it, because I believe they broke the mold, and a lot of drivers breathed a sigh of relief.”
The Too Tough To Tame 200 will be Saturday, August 14 at 7:00 p.m. ET on SPEED.