Thursday, April 05, 2007

You Can Stop Worrying About Darlington

Darlington Raceway officials announced today that the Board of Directors of International Speedway Corporation has approved more than $10 million in funding for capital improvement projects at the speedway. Total estimated spending for the projects represents the largest one-time investment in the 58-year history of Darlington, and should end any further speculation about the status of the track's lone remaining NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race date.

Scheduled projects include repaving the racing surface and aprons, and the addition of concrete pit stalls. A new infield access tunnel -- large enough to accommodate team transporters and motorcoaches -- will be constructed at the west end of the track. Other planned projects include suite renovations and the creation of additional fan parking areas.

"We are extremely pleased (with ISC's) show of support for Darlington Raceway," said track president Chris Browning today. "The repaving and tunnel projects, in particular, are the continuation of a major renovation and upgrade plan that began last year with the construction of the new Brasington Tower grandstand in Turn One. Many great things lie ahead for Darlington Raceway, and we are tremendously excited about what the future holds."

Darlington Raceway hosted the first-ever NASCAR-sanctioned race on a paved oval on Labor Day, 1950. The track was last repaved in the fall of 1995, and Ward Burton won the pole for the first race on the new surface -- with a speed of 173.797 mph -- in the spring of 1996. Burton's track record still stands, but could be in serious jeopardy once the new asphalt is laid. Officials solicited input on the repaving project from several current drivers, along with team owners, engineers and representatives from NASCAR and Goodyear.

Work will begin this summer, following the Dodge Avenger 500 weekend May 10-12. The weekend will include the USAC Silver Crown Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Nextel Cup Series; with all three events running under the lights on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

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