Five truck teams testing at Darlington
COLUMBIA, S.C. ó When Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning heads into town, one fan question comes up more than most: iWhen are the trucks coming back?î
Maybe it wonít be too long.
Five NASCAR Craftsman Truck teams began a two-day test Tuesday at newly repaved Darlington Raceway, according to track officials, even though the series hasnít raced there since 2004 and is not on the schedule this season.
Could the test mean trucks are returning to iThe Lady In Black?î
iI sure hope so,î said Johnny Benson, whose Bill Davis No. 23 Toyota Tundra took part Tuesday.
Darlington, with its tire-chewing surface and misshapen corners, is not typically the place NASCAR teams in any circuit would plan to practice. But Benson said the new, smooth surface should give truck teams some good information to use at future races, such as the OíReilly Auto Parts 250 in Kansas City on April 26.
iIf this were the way it usually is, we wouldnít be here,î Benson said.
Darlington held truck events from 2001-04. The last one, won by Kasey Kahne, was the trackís first race to finish at night after lights were added to the facility.
Browning, who became president in the middle of 2004, said a scheduling conflict with Darlingtonís Motherís Day weekend slot prevented the trucks from coming back. Plus, Darlington had its hands full simply maintaining its place on the Sprint Cup schedule.
The track has undergone a series of improvements since then, including the addition of 6,300 seats in the new Brasington Tower in turn one. When Sprint Cup drivers show up next month for the Dodge Challenger 500, theyíll also see a new infield access tunnel along with trackís first repaving since 1995.
The projects were part of a $10 million capital construction plan for the track, which first hosted a NASCAR race in 1950.
A Goodyear tire test in March including Sprint Cup drivers Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman featured straightaway speeds topping 200 mph, Browning said.
In Bensonís first few laps Tuesday, he said he reached 170.750 mph. Also participating Tuesday were Bensonís Bill Davis teammates, Mike Skinner and Phillip McGilton, and the Roush Fenway Racing teams of Joey Clanton and Erik Darnell.
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