NASCAR Notebook: Darlington has about 5,000 tickets left
The NASCAR notebook …
DARLINGTON, S.C. ó It could take nice weather and motivated NASCAR fans to continue a string of sellouts at Darlington.
Darlington Raceway spokesman Jake Harris said in an e-mail Thursday there were fewer than 5,000 seats available for Saturday night’s Southern 500. Darlington leaders are hopeful they can sell out their fifth straight Mother’s Day weekend race.
Darlington seats about 62,000.
The track had gone several races without selling out until 2005, when it first began holding a Saturday race under its newly installed lights. Darlington has sold out each season since.
In January, Darlington officials cut prices on some tickets by $10. The track also recently announced price cuts at concessions for the upcoming race.
HOPING: Jason Keller is the Iron Man of NASCAR’s Nationwide Series with a record 465 starts, and he will attempt to add another record Friday night at Darlington Raceway.
The Greenville, S.C., driver will make his 27th start at the South Carolina track, hoping to become the first Nationwide driver to surpass 5,000 miles at Darlington and supplementing another mark he holds at the 1.366-mile oval ó 3,598 laps completed.
He goes into the 200-mile event with a total of 4,914.8 miles.
In his first season with Baker Curb Racing, Keller is ranked seventh in the series standings and is aiming to finish in the top 10 in points for the first time since 2005, the last season he drove full-time in the second-tier series for the same owner.
“I think we’ve had some strong runs and can take a lot of positives so far,” Keller said. “The entire team is doing everything we can to continue to improve (each) week. If you look at where this team is now compared to the end of last year, we’ve done just that. Having said that, we’re not content with where we are and still need to improve as the season continues.”
Keller has three top-10 finishes this year, including a ninth-place run at Richmond on Friday. His other top-10s came at Daytona and Talladega.
At Darlington, Keller has posted three top-fives and 10 top-10s in his first 26 starts.
FAST GUY: Only 14 drivers have won at least 50 races across NASCAR’s three national series, with Kyle Busch joining the elite list with a pair of victories last weekend at Richmond.
Busch, who turned 24 on Saturday, made it to 50 wins in 365 starts.
As fast as that is, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is nowhere near the fastest to get to 50.
That honor belongs to Jeff Gordon, who did it in 275 races. Also making it to 50 wins quicker than Busch were Darrell Waltrip (278 races), David Pearson (293), Junior Johnson (303), Ned Jarrett (332), Richard Petty (338) and Cale Yarborough (247).
That puts Busch in pretty fast company, considering all of them are former series champions.
Others on the list include Lee Petty (392), Dale Earnhardt (400), Bobby Allison (432), Mark Martin (486), Rusty Wallace (533) and Greg Biffle (534).
EARNHARDT AND ELVIS: This year’s fan celebration at Dale Earnhardt Inc. will include a tribute to Elvis Presley.
The event in Mooresville will kick off May 14 with a dinner and display of Elvis memorabilia in The Trophy Room, the private dining room used by the late Dale Earnhardt.
The free fan celebration will take place at DEI on May 16, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It will include an autograph session with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing drivers Martin Truex Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya and Aric Almirola at 9 a.m., the North Carolina premiere of the Earnhardt Elvis No. 3 Chevrolet with DEI management and members of the Graceland organization at 10:30 a.m., and an autograph session with Kerry and Jeffrey Earnhardt, the late Dale Earnhardt’s son and grandson, at 2:30 p.m.
GRUBB DEAD:Virginia police say former NASCAR driver Kevin Grubb died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Henrico County Police spokesman Lt. Doug Perry said Thursday that Grubb’s body was found by personnel at the Richmond-area Alpine Motel on Wednesday.
Perry said they found no indication of any drug use inside the room, but toxicology results may not be available for up to six weeks.