As the Lady in Black begins to carefully prepare herself for the upcoming weekend, the drivers already know that she will be more then ready to take on all comers whether young or old.
[media-credit name=”Barry Albert” align=”alignright” width=”256″][/media-credit]The history this track has instilled in the minds of some of NASCAR’s most notorious drivers is nowhere close, to the pain, and the affliction which this almost untamable black beauty can inflict in one single blow.
The mind games which she can play at any given moment do not come cheap, because when this lady comes to play, she always plays for keeps even though she only measures a mere 1.366 mile in length. Don’t ever let her length deceive you, because before you know it her deceiving looks quickly turn into one of the most explosive, and exciting races that only she can generate lap after lap.
Along with her infamous stripe that she hands out free of charge, will also be the mystique that has made her a fan favorite for over 60 years. Now coming into Saturday nights main event, she may have looked dormant while sitting around all year long waiting her turn to dance with 43 of NASCAR’s finest, but that was not to be, instead she spent her free time planning and plotting on who will be her next victim.
One of those victims will be Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon, who will be seeking to show this temptress who runs the show, and he will not be intimidated by her spoiled ways.
Gordon is not coming alone, instead he is bringing his arsenal of seven victories, 18 top-fives and 21 top-10’s to the dance. Gordon has also lead the most laps with 1,720 – more than double the amount of laps led by the nearest active full-time driver (Jeff Burton – 817), which makes him the biggest threat even though he is sitting 16th in points after nine races.
Gordon’s seven victories came before the facility received its new surface after the 2007 season, and with the newer more smoother surface Gordon has yet to finish outside the top-five since then., “It’s just one of those tracks where you can be riding around by yourself but make the slightest little bobble and end up in the wall. Because the track can just reach out and bite you so easy, you must race the track.
“This track used to be so tough because the surface was so abrasive. It’s still an awesome race track that is much faster now, and it can still bite you.” said Gordon, who will drive the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet in Saturday night’s Showtime Southern 500.
Gordon also added that before, “You had to use a lot of finesse as a driver while dealing with the two very different ends of the track. Now it’s smoother and it has more grip, but it’s still pretty treacherous because you run right up next to the wall.”
Not only will Gordon have his hands full as he gently caresses his away around her beastly curves, but in the back of his mind will be the memories of just how dangerous she can be when provoked.
“There’s just a small margin for error because you’re running so fast so close to the wall. If you focus too much on trying to out run the competition, then you’ll make a mistake,“ Gordon said while talking about how challenging the track is to navigate.
“Gordon also added that, “You’re never going to have a perfect car or perfect setup. Both ends of the race track are totally different. That means you have to compromise as a driver and as a team with the setup.”
So as the Lady in Black is just about ready to make her grand entrance, its time to get the music started, and see what kind of dance moves Gordon has left over from his last victory back in 2002.
The track that is nicknamed, “Too tough to tame,” is not a place for the faint of heart, and to say anything less would be an insult to her integrity.
So far the track has been the victor, and with the victory has come many years of anguish, and disgust for the 43 drivers who will do their best to bring this lady under complete control. She will not go down without a fight, but it’s up to these brave asphalt warriors to pull her out of the mosh pit, and gently slow her down to a very graceful waltz.
“It’s just one of those tracks where you can be riding around by yourself but make the slightest little bobble and end up in the wall. Because the track can just reach out and bite you so easy, you must race the track.”