Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide
Series are running at Darlington Raceway this Mother's Day weekend. Formula
competes in Europe for the first time this season with the Spanish Grand Prix
Sprint Cup Series
Bojangles' Southern 500 - Darlington Raceway - Darlington, SC
The lady in green is set to take on the "Lady in Black."
Danica Patrick is scheduled to make her second Sprint Cup Series start this
weekend at Darlington Raceway. Patrick is guaranteed a starting position in
Saturday night's 500-mile race since her No. 10 Tommy Baldwin Racing team is
currently 33rd in the owner point standings.
David Reutimann's 22nd-place finish last Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway
helped keep the No. 10 team in the top-35 in points.
Driving her green-colored GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, Patrick made her series debut
in February at Daytona International Speedway. Patrick was involved in a
multi-car crash that occurred on the second lap of the Daytona 500. She
returned to the track 60 laps behind and wound up finishing 38th.
Darlington, a 1.366-mile oval, is one of the most challenging racetracks in
NASCAR, with its unique egg-shaped layout. Patrick will certainly have her
hands full, and she'll probably earn more than one Darlington stripe during
"I know it's going to be hard," Patrick said. "I know there's going to be some
frustrating moments and some moments that I'm probably going to feel a little
embarrassed, but I'm there to get my Darlington stripes and move along."
After Darlington, Patrick is scheduled to compete at Charlotte (May 27),
Bristol (August 25), Atlanta (September 2), Chicagoland (Sept. 16), Dover
(Sept. 30), Texas (November 4) and Phoenix (Nov. 11). The 10th and final race
on her 2012 Sprint Cup schedule has yet to be determined. Patrick is hoping to
run in the series full-time next year.
"The point of this process and the point of choosing Darlington was to go to
the toughest tracks and get the toughest ones out of the way, the ones that
take a lot of tries before you really get comfortable there and just get the
process going," she said.
Patrick has yet to compete in any race at Darlington. She will get familiar
with the track during Friday's Sprint Cup practice and qualifying sessions.
Patrick will then race in the Nationwide event there that night.
"I've got to do a few laps in anything around Darlington I've heard before I
get out there in a car," she said. "I'll make sure I get there the day before
and find someone who's going to let me out there, even if I have to be on a
pedal bike. Get a rental out there and just kind of ride around."
While there is plenty of attention surrounding Patrick's next start in Cup,
there's also a lot of hype about Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch returning to
Darlington one year after their post-race brawl there.
In its advertising campaign for the Bojangles' Southern 500, Darlington
Raceway is promoting this year's event as the rematch between Harvick and
Both drivers tangled multiple times during the closing laps in last year's
race there. Harvick ended up hitting the wall the final time they made
contact. After the race concluded, Harvick and Busch duked it out on pit road.
NASCAR responded days later by issuing each one of them a $25,000 fine and a
probation period of one month.
When asked about his thoughts of the track advertising this race as round two
between Busch and Harvick, Busch replied, "I think it's dumb; it's pretty
In fact, both drivers would rather not be at the center of controversy.
"It's easier not to be in the middle of a controversy to tell you the truth,"
Harvick said. "With the way that the media and the things work now, it's just
easier to not to have to answer the questions from your sponsors or your team.
It puts all the guys on your team in a bad spot because everybody is answering
When Harvick and Busch were exchanging pleasantries on pit road, Regan Smith
was celebrating in victory lane at Darlington. Smith gambled on fuel late in
the race and then held off Carl Edwards by 0.2 seconds at the finish for his
first Sprint Cup win in his 105th start.
"Winning the Southern 500 last year was a memorable milestone for our team,"
Smith said. "It's still unbelievable that we pulled it off. I recently tweeted
that I would rather win the Southern 500 then win the lottery, and I am not
changing my stance on that."
Forty-six teams are on the preliminary entry list for this race.
VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 - Darlington Raceway - Darlington, SC
After finishing third in last Saturday's race at Talladega, Ricky Stenhouse
Jr. moved into the points lead in the Nationwide Series.
Stenhouse, the defending series champion, began this season with a 19th-place
finish at Daytona. Since then, the Roush Fenway Racing driver has climbed his
way to the top in points, thanks in part to his victories at Las Vegas and
Elliott Sadler held a 25-point advantage over Stenhouse following the March 17
race at Bristol, but after his 10th-place finish at Talladega, Sadler gave up
the points lead for the first time this season. He is now five markers behind
The points battle between the two moves on to Darlington Raceway this week.
Stenhouse finished 37th in his first Nationwide race at Darlington in 2010. He
followed up with a 10th-place run there one year later.
"We were running really strong there last year, passing for third late in the
race and got in the wall which messed up our race, but we were really fast,"
Stenhouse said. "I look forward to getting back there. I think we will have
another strong top-five run, hopefully, or even go for the win."
Last year, Sadler finished third in his first Nationwide race at Darlington
"The track brings back a lot of memories for me," Sadler said. "I earned my
first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole there in 2003 and earned a pole in the
Nationwide Series early in my career in 1997. I really love the driving style
at Darlington, and with so much history there, I always want to go there and
Sadler also has two wins this season -- Phoenix and Bristol.
Darlington will mark the second race for Travis Pastrana. The 11-time X Games
gold medalist made his Nationwide debut on April 27 at Richmond, starting 25th
and finishing 22nd.
While competing in a NASCAR K&N Series event in March at Greenville-Pickens
Speedway in Greenville, SC, Pastrana received some helpful tips from NASCAR
Hall of Famer David Pearson on how to race at Darlington. Pearson won 10 Cup
races and claimed 12 poles at Darlington.
"I really appreciate the time that Mr. Pearson spent with me at Greenville-
Pickens," Pastrana said. "I'm still learning the sport of NASCAR, so to get
some great advice from a legend like Mr. Pearson was extremely beneficial for
me. It really has been amazing to see the people willing to help me each week.
"I have received help from Jimmie Johnson, Matt Crafton and Ryan Truex just to
name a few. It's just amazing all these people are willing to help me when
they have to race against me each week. In motocross, you never told another
competitor your secrets. It just wasn't part of the culture."
Ryan Blaney, the 18-year-old son of NASCAR veteran Dave Blaney, will also make
his second start in the series at Darlington. Blaney finished an impressive
seventh in his debut at Richmond.
Eric McClure will not compete in Friday night's event at Darlington due to his
injuries sustained during a late-race crash at Talladega. McClure, who drives
the No. 14 Toyota for TriStar Motorsports, slammed head on into the inside
retaining wall in turn three. The 33-year-old suffered a concussion and mild
internal bruising. He was released from a Birmingham, AL hospital on Tuesday.
Jeff Green, the 2000 series champion, will substitute for McClure in the No.
14 car at Darlington. Green has scored one win and nine top-10 finishes in 18
Nationwide races there.
Forty-three drivers are on the preliminary entry list for the VFW Sport Clips
Help a Hero 200.
Spanish Grand Prix - Circuit de Catalunya - Barcelona, Spain
With Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain now completed, the "European
season" on this year's Formula One calendar begins this weekend with the
Spanish Grand Prix.
Teams are already quite familiar with Circuit de Catalunya, since F1 pre-
season testing is held at this 4.655-kilometer (2.892-mile) road course,
located just north of Barcelona.
F1 held two of its three pre-season test sessions at this circuit. Lotus did
exceptionally well in testing there two months ago. Kimi Raikkonen, who is in
his first season with Lotus, posted the quickest time on the final day. His
teammate, Romain Grosjean, also topped the time charts.
Raikkonen finished second and Grosjean placed third in last month's Bahrain
Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull picked up his first win of the
"I expect Lotus to be very competitive at Barcelona," Raikkonen said. "It's
going to be very, very close between the top teams. This is the only circuit
where the teams have already tested with the new cars, and the set-up is
crucial, as the track changes with the wind and temperature. All the teams
have updates for the first European race, which makes it even more interesting
and even tighter at the top.
"I have won here twice, and there's nothing better than winning in any grand
prix. Those two wins are my only podiums in the event."
Raikkonen's first Spanish GP win came in 2005 when he drove for McLaren. His
second victory in this race occurred in 2008 with Ferrari. Raikkonen started
on the pole in both of those races.
Vettel is the defending winner of the Spanish GP. Starting second in last
year's race, Vettel overcame issues with his KERS and then held off a furious
challenge from McLaren's Hamilton Lewis in the closing laps for the win.
"Of all the current GP tracks, Barcelona is the one that we know the most,
because we have done so much testing there in recent years," Vettel said. "The
knowledge that you gain at the tests doesn't always help due to the changing
wind direction that occurs there, which can sometimes give you a nasty
surprise, especially into turn one. A car that functions well aerodynamically
in Barcelona will work everywhere, so it will be an interesting weekend."
Vettel recorded the fastest lap in the first day of testing at Barcelona, but
his car experienced its share of mechanical and engine issues in the days that
followed there. He also went off course and broke the front wing on the car.
After winning in Bahrain, Vettel moved atop the championship standings for the
first time this season. The two-time defending world champion currently holds
a four-point lead over Hamilton.
"Our performance at Barcelona during winter testing looked promising,"
Hamilton said. "But the form of the season is still very hard to read, so it's
difficult to predict who'll be at the front next weekend. Nonetheless, we had
a great race there last year. I pushed Sebastian all the way to the finish. I
think we have a comparatively stronger car this year, so I hope we can have
another strong race."
Vettel's teammate, Mark Webber, is five points out of the lead. Webber started
on the pole and finished fourth in last year's Spanish GP.
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