NASCAR Hall of Fame: Cale Yarborough
With 83 wins in the Cup Series and three consecutive championships, Yarborough has secured his place in the record books and is now in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Wood Brothers Racing , one of the longest tenured teams competing in NASCAR's premier series, will return to full-time competition beginning in 2016. Officials with the team and Ford Motor Co. made the announcement Friday afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway , site of this weekend's Ford EcoBoost 400 (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) season-ending event. Ryan Blaney will handle the driving duties, embarking upon his first full season after making 15 starts for the team this year heading into Sunday's race. Weather issues kept the team from attempting to qualify at Daytona, Kentucky and Chicago earlier this year. "These are the guys that made it happen, Ford Motor Company," co-team owner Eddie Wood said. "It is just a lot of people that have been working on this for a long time and we are really proud of our association and heritage with Ford Motor Company. We have been racing Ford Motor Company products for 65 years and we are really looking forward to next year and getting started with that." The team will continue to have a technical alliance with Team Penske , which fields Sprint Cup entries for drivers Joey Logano and 2012 champion Brad Keselowski . "It is what you dream of as a kid," Blaney, 21, said. "I have been fortunate enough to get great opportunities and meet great people being with Team Penske in 2012 which led to the Wood Brothers this year and then beyond for next year. "Obviously it is a little overwhelming right now … knowing what is going to come but I am excited for it. I don't get excited about a lot of things and maybe I don't show it but I am really excited about this program for next year and having the opportunity." It will be the first time since 2008 that the Wood Brothers organization, founded by team owner Glen Wood in 1953, has attempted to run the entire NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. That season, three drivers -- Bill Elliott , Marcos Ambrose and Jon Wood -- split the driving duties, although Johnny Sauter made one attempt, failing to qualify at Las Vegas. The last full season with a single-driver for the team came in 2006 with veteran Ken Schrader . "We were in Pocono … testing for the Pocono race on May 28, 2008," Wood said. "At about noon that day Mr. Ford called me looking for a phone number. I hadn't talked to him in a while and he said, 'I haven't heard from you in a while, why haven't you called?' I told him we had been running so poorly that I had really just been ashamed. He says, 'So, you are saying this 21 is broken?' and I said, ‘Yeah, it is broken right now.' "So he said we were going to see about that, that we would fix that. From that day until now, it has been just like this. He put some things in motion that started to help like increased engineering and just more of everything. There were some Ford Motor Company people that … moved in with us and helped get us straightened out and three years later we win the Daytona 500 (with driver Trevor Bayne ). You can never give up." Wood Brothers entries have visited Victory Lane 98 times, sixth most among active teams and seventh overall. The list of drivers who have won for the team includes NASCAR Hall of Fame members Wood, Curtis Turner (a 2016 inductee), Cale Yarborough , David Pearson and Dale Jarrett. Leonard Wood, younger brother of Glen and crew chief for the majority of the team's victories, is also in the Hall of Fame. Despite often running a limited schedule, the organization has finished in the top 10 in points 13 times and won the series' premier event, the Daytona 500 , five times. "I think the timing was perfect for this to all come together," Edsel Ford II said. "I think with Team Penske 's help, that kind of motivated us to sort of talk to the Wood Brothers internally … and find out if this was possible. It just all came together this year and fit. It fit perfectly. So why not do it." NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series schedule consists of 36 points races and two non-points event and runs from February through mid-November. Entering this weekend's event, 35 teams have competed in all points races contested thus far this season.
Yarborough comments on reaching the top of the NASCAR ladder, racing for the Wood Brothers and why he never returned to racing.
Yarborough made his mark in NASCAR by winning the Daytona 500 four times and the Cup championship three times.
RELATED: Cast your vote today Less than one week remains before voting ends in the annual NMPA Most Popular Driver award, which means it's crucial for NASCAR fans to vote. And they've answered the call recently. Last week saw a 14.9 percent increase in total number of votes cast from the previous week. That number speaks to how deep the passion runs for NASCAR fans -- and also how passionate fans remain digitally savvy. Voting has never been easier, either at www.mostpopulardriver.com or the NASCAR Mobile App. Are you doing your part for your favorite driver? Remember, the NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver award is the only major NASCAR award determined solely by fan vote. Voting ends Nov. 22 at 11:59 p.m. ET, so make sure your voice is heard. Voting is limited to one vote per person per email address per day. The winner of this year's award will be announced during the NBCSN broadcast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards on Dec. 4 in Las Vegas. A $10,000 donation will be made to the winning driver's charity of choice. And just in case you need any extra motivation … Sprint has revealed the top 10 vote-getters thus far. Where is your favorite driver? The list below is in alphabetical order. Kyle Busch Dale Earnhardt Jr . Carl Edwards Jeff Gordon Kevin Harvick Jimmie Johnson Kasey Kahne Matt Kenseth Danica Patrick Tony Stewart Previous winners of the NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver Award: Year – Recipient 2014 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2013 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2012 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2011 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2010 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2009 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2008 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2007 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2006 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2005 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2004 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2003 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 2002 – Bill Elliott 2001 – Dale Earnhardt 2000 – Bill Elliott 1999 – Bill Elliott 1998 – Bill Elliott 1997 – Bill Elliott 1996 – Bill Elliott 1995 – Bill Elliott 1994 – Bill Elliott 1993 – Bill Elliott 1992 – Bill Elliott 1991 – Bill Elliott 1990 – Darrell Waltrip 1989 – Darrell Waltrip 1988 – Bill Elliott 1987 – Bill Elliott 1986 – Bill Elliott 1985 – Bill Elliott 1984 – Bill Elliott 1983 – Bobby Allison 1982 – Bobby Allison 1981 – Bobby Allison 1980 – David Pearson 1979 – David Pearson 1978 – Richard Petty 1977 – Richard Petty 1976 – Richard Petty 1975 – Richard Petty 1974 – Richard Petty 1973 – Bobby Allison 1972 – Bobby Allison 1971 – Bobby Allison 1970 – Richard Petty 1969 – Bobby Isaac 1968 – Richard Petty 1967 – Cale Yarborough 1966 – Darel Dieringer 1965 – Fred Lorenzen 1964 – Richard Petty 1963 – Fred Lorenzen 1962 – Richard Petty 1961 – Joe Weatherly 1960 – Rex White 1959 – Jack Smith 1958 – Glen Wood 1957 – Fireball Roberts 1956 – Curtis Turner 1955 – Tim Flock 1954 – Lee Petty 1953 – Lee Petty
Sunday's win at Texas was the 75th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory for Jimmie Johnson , a milestone that only eight other drivers have reached in the sport's history. It also put Johnson, eighth on the all-time NASCAR wins list, just one one behind Dale Earnhardt's total of 76. "It would be huge (to pass Earnhardt on the wins list)," Johnson said after his victory in the AAA Texas 500 . "Hard to even put it into words. I came into this sport hoping to win a race. To have 75 of them is mind‑blowing. If I'm able to tie Senior, it's something I would be just extremely proud of." If "Six-Time" does eventually pass Earnhardt, he would be seventh on the all-time list and have the totals of Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough in his sights. When it comes to the most wins in NASCAR premier series history, here's the top 10 drivers. An asterisk denotes a driver who is currently active.
RELATED: See all the paint schemes for Darlington Darlington Raceway will host the Bojangles' Southern 500 this weekend. Numerous teams are participating in the throwback theme at the South Carolina track and paying homage to some of NASCAR's most famous cars -- and drivers. Here's how some of the cars looked originally, with footage of the vehicles driving around Darlington. Brad Keselowski Brad Keselowski 's scheme is paying homage to Bobby Allison's car in the 1983 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Allison's car in action Austin Dillon Austin Dillon is keeping it in the family and honoring grandfather Richard Childress. The paint scheme of the No. 3 Chevrolet is a tribute to Childress' car during the 1979 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Childress' car in action Denny Hamlin Denny Hamlin 's No. 11 JGR Toyota mirrors the car of NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough's look from 1973. " Watch old footage of Yarborough's car in action Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Ricky Stenhouse Jr . is honoring three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson and paying tribute to his car from the 1968 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Pearson's car in action Chase Elliott The No. 25 of Chase Elliott is one of the many cars getting a vintage makeover. Elliott's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet resembles the paint scheme of his father Bill Elliott 's car from 1974. " Watch old footage Elliott's car in action Kyle Larson Kyle Larson 's No. 42 Chevrolet is going to replicate Kyle Petty's Mello Yello look. " Watch old footage of Petty's car in action Clint Bowyer As Clint Bowyer looks for a strong performance at Darlington in hopes to maintain his spot on the Chase Grid, his car will be rocking a pretty awesome paint scheme honoring the late Buddy Baker. Bowyer's Toyota is similar to Baker's No. 15 Ford from the 1974 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Baker's car in action More videos • Ward Burton's iconic No. 22 car comes back to life this weekend at Darlington as his son, Jeb, will be sporting an almost identical paint scheme. " Watch the old footage of Ward Burton's car in action • Two-time Darlington winner, Sterling Marlin, is being honored at "The Lady in Black" by Landon Cassill . Cassill's No. 40 Chevrolet will mirror Marlin's paint scheme on his own No. 40. " Watch the old footage of Sterling Marlin's with a Coors Light paint scheme he me • Dale Earnhardt Jr . is contributing to the throwback weekend by paying homage to Cale Yarborough's No. 15 car. " Watch the old footage of Yarborough's car in action • The No. 43 of Aric Almirola Almirola's is in honor of Richard Petty's 1972 Plymouth Roadrunner, the first time The King's car featured sponsor STP with the Petty Blue and Day-Glo Red on the quarter panels. " Watch old footage of Petty's iconic car • Kasey Kahne 's No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is paying respect to one of the NASCAR greats, Geoff Bodine. " See the clip of Bodine's car in action • The throwback inspiration for the paint of Trevor Bayne 's No. 6 Ford comes from Mark Martin 's own No.6. Martin is a two-time Darlington winner. " Watch Martin's memorable Ford in action • Sam Hornish Jr . is, too, honoring Mark Martin in his No. 9 Winn Dixie Ford. " Watch more footage of Martin's car in action • The No. 41 Chevrolet of Kurt Busch has a familiar paint scheme as it is a replica of Jack Sprague's No. 60. " Watch the No. 60 in action
RELATED: Vote for your favorite paint scheme May 6: Harvick unveils paint scheme, talks schedule adjustment NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Kevin Harvick was the first of many drivers to unveil his Darlington throwback paint scheme. His No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet will feature a nostalgic Budweiser look. " Read the full story May 27: SHR reveals Stewart's throwback Darlington Look Tony Stewart was the second SHR driver to reveal his car's paint scheme for the throwback weekend at Darlington. The No. 14 Chevrolet will have a retro look to it for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . " Read the full story June 9: SHR unveils Busch's Darlington paint scheme SHR continued to unveil its drivers' throwback looks, this time with Kurt Busch 's car being on display. His No. 41 Chevrolet will pay tribute to past Haas-Automation schemes run at "The Lady in Black." " Read the full story July 8: RCR reveals Newman's Darlington throwback look See Ryan Newman 's paint scheme set for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . Newman's No. 31 Chevrolet honors Caterpillar's history. " Read the full story July 21: Danica's Darlington paint scheme revealed NASCAR's leading lady, Danica Patrick , will appropriately honor the track nicknamed "The Lady in Black" with black livery for her No. 10 Chevrolet. " Read the full story Aug 4: Wood Bros. reveals Blaney's Darlington throwback scheme The No. 21 Ford of Ryan Blaney has quite a historic throwback look as it includes more than 2,000 photos of the Wood Brothers team's history, dating back 60 years. " Read the full story Aug 15: Jimmie Johnson 's Darlington scheme revealed Jimmie's No. 48 Chevrolet is one of the many cars set to rock a vintage look for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . The three-time Darlington winner will have a Lowe's Home Improvement logo on his car that was used throughout the 1940s and '50s. " See Jimmie's paint preview Aug 18: Stenhouse Jr. reveals Darlington throwback look Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s No. 17 Ford is getting a new (or rather old) paint scheme. The look will honor David Pearson, 105-time winner in NASCAR's premier series and Darlington's all-time winner with a total of 10 wins. " See Stenhouse Jr.'s paint scheme Aug 18: Ragan's Darlington look to honor his father David Ragan is taking the opportunity to honor his father, Ken Ragan, during the Bojangles' Southern 500 . His No. 55 MWR Toyota will feature a paint scheme that his father often featured on his cars. " Read the full story Aug 18: Gallery: Darlington's throwback paint schemes With drivers fully embracing the throwback theme that Darlington has to offer, NASCAR.com made it easy and put all the paint schemes in one place. " See the full gallery Aug 24: Bowyer's Darlington throwback look unveiled Clint Bowyer is one of many to be rocking an old-school look to his car. The No. 15 Toyota will sport a dedication to two NASCAR greats -- Bud Moore and the late Buddy Baker. " Read the full story Aug 25: BK Racing unveils Jeb Burton throwback, driver swap In this driver swap, Burton will be taking over the No. 23 of J.J. Yeley, who will be driving Burton's No. 26 Toyota. The No. 23 will honor Jeb's father, Ward Burton. " Read the full story Aug 27: Two JGR teams to serve practice penalties at Darlington Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth will serve penalties for the practice rounds at Darlington due to failed pre-qualifying and pre-race inspections at Bristol. " Read the full story Aug 27: Aric Almirola 's throwback paint scheme for Darlington revealed Aric Almirola 's No. 43 Ford is the latest to get a vintage makeover before the throwback weekend begins. The No. 43 will be sporting a Richard Petty-inspired look. " Read the full story Aug 27: Terry Labonte to be Southern 500 grand marshal Two-time Sprint Cup champion Terry Labonte will serve as grand marshal for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . Labonte won at Darlington when the race was last held during Labor Day weekend. " Read the full story Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Brad Keselowski Take a look at the paint scheme Brad Keselowski 's No. 2 Team Penske Ford will be sporting, paying homage to the Darlington throwback weekend. " Watch the video Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Denny Hamlin Glimpse Denny Hamlin 's retro scheme that is paying tribute to NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough . " Watch the video Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Chase Elliott Check out the original paint scheme that Chase Elliott will be honoring at Darlington Raceway . " Watch the video Aug 27: Darlington Paint Scheme: Austin Dillon Keeping it in the family, Austin Dillon will be honoring his grandfather and will be using a paint scheme patterned after Richard Childress's No. 3. " Watch the video Aug 30: Complete schedule for Darlington Don't miss any of the exciting action. Check out the complete schedule to find out when on-track action begins. " Read more Aug 31: Drivers, officials, fans pumped for Darlington throwback weekend Everyone is geared up and ready for the throwback weekend at Darlington for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . " Read more Sept. 1: Not a typical throwback NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce explains why Darlington is different, with help from legends like Cale Yarborough . " Read more Sept. 2: Kahne's look revealed The scheme for Kasey Kahne 's No. 5 gives a nod to Geoff Bodine and Hendrick Motorsports ' beginnings. " Read more Sept. 2: How Darlington's distinctive design was made Darlington Raceway was designed back in 1949, preparing for the first 500-mile NASCAR race to be held at "The Lady in Black" in 1950. " Read more Sept. 2: Behind-the-scenes at the Mello Yello shoot Kyle Larson and Kyle Petty team up for the Mello Yello shoot where Larson gets a pretty interesting makeover. Do you like his new look? " See more Sept. 2: 1970 Southern 500 Promo The throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway is bringing back a lot of retro looks with the abundance of paint schemes. Take a look into our archive and see what the 1970 Southern 500 race was all about. " Watch the video Sept. 2: Chase-clinching scenarios at Darlington With two races away before the Chase, drivers who have yet to clinch a spot are in panic mode. See how drivers need to perform at Darlington if they want to be on the Chase Grid. " Read more Sept. 3: What if Darlington race included throwback drivers? Darlington is all about the throwback theme, with most of the drivers sporting a retro paint scheme for the weekend. But what if the race included throwback drivers? See who some of the NASCAR community would pick. " Read more Sept. 3: @nascarcasm presents: Rejected Darlington throwback ideas @nascarcasm drafts up some rejected ideas for throwback weekend at Darlington. " Read more Sept. 3: Darlington most talked about race since Daytona 500 The Bojangles' Southern 500 is all the NASCAR community can talk about, and for good reason with drivers honoring throwback paint schemes from some NASCAR legends. " Read more Sept. 3: Driver reports: Previewing Darlington See how all the drivers currently on the Chase Grid fare at "The Lady in Black." Will they maintain their spot or will they go? " See more
RELATED: Darlington throwback schemes " Fired up for throwback race It's 1.366 miles of character-testing asphalt; a track so demanding it required not one nickname, but two. The Lady in Black. Too Tough to Tame. Welcome to Darlington Raceway , host for six and a half decades of one of the most anticipated, most difficult events on the NASCAR schedule. The Bojangles' Southern 500 returns to what many believe is its rightful place on the Sprint Cup Series schedule, Labor Day weekend, with history in tow. That history will be on display as the track and various teams adhere to a throwback theme, part of a five-year program that launches this weekend. "I remember that 1968 Southern win that was on the old (layout); I wouldn't take anything for that win and then went on to win five Southern 500s," NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Cale Yarborough said recently. "I just have so many fond memories of racing here. Even though I had rather win here than anywhere else -- because it's home, it's the first superspeedway -- I absolutely hated to drive this place. It was just so tough to drive. But I still would rather win here than anywhere." Yarborough , a three-time champion and member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, hails from nearby Timmonsville, South Carolina. He made his first Darlington start in 1957 as a teenager. More than 20 years later, he became the first driver to win five Southern 500 titles. "I was definitely in over my head," Yarborough said of that first start, which came with car owner Bob Weatherly. "But I came back and won five times and that record stood for 30 years. When Jeff Gordon tied my record (in 2002), I told him, 'Jeff, you've got a long way to go son. Because you never won one on that old Darlington race track.' "This is a unique place. There's not another one like it. I think any driver would love to have a win at Darlington on his resume." • • • Fast Fact I: In 1965, Ned Jarrett won the Southern 500 by a whopping 14 laps, the largest margin of victory ever recorded in NASCAR's premier series. • • • The story goes that after purchasing the land for the track, owner Harold Brasington was instructed that he wasn't to disturb a nearby minnow pond when constructing NASCAR's first paved speedway. What resulted was a layout that features two vastly different ends of the facility, giving the track a somewhat egg-shaped appearance. The unique design, along with the application of what was known as "bear grease," resulted in yet another piece of NASCAR terminology -- the Darlington stripe. Cars would often ricochet off the wall as they skirted along the very edge of the outside racing groove. Because of laws that restricted certain types of commerce on Sunday, the Southern 500 was contested on Labor Day, the first Monday of September, annually from 1950 through 1983. "I guess what they had in South Carolina at the time were what they called Blue laws. We couldn't run on Sunday," Dale Inman, winner of seven championships as a crew chief for Richard Petty and eight championships overall, said. "We'd practice three or four days, practice on Saturday and then we didn't do anything on Sunday. Then we'd come back and run Labor Day. "Golly, while we were gone they'd paint the track in bear grease, so when we started the race it was just a different world for awhile." The appeal was obvious. Not only was Darlington the first big paved track in NASCAR's realm, but the purse in the early years was equally impressive as well. "The first time I went there I think was 1951," Inman said. "Lord, in those years they started them three abreast. They didn't use the banking, or very few used it. It was just unheard of at that time." Petty won three times at Darlington, including the 1967 Southern 500. But the race that stands out in Inman's mind came three years later in the spring event. The track, already known as one of the most treacherous on the circuit, lived up to its billing when Petty's blue No. 43 Plymouth came off Turn 4, broke loose and struck the inside pit wall with such force that it destroyed the concrete barrier. Petty's car flipped violently before coming to rest on its roof. "When we got to him, (the car) was ... in the middle of the race track and cars were still going by on both sides," Inman said. "We unhooked the seatbelt, he kind of came down pretty hard on the roof because he was laying upside down. "Until he groaned we didn't think he was still with us. But he did groan so we knew he was OK. The big thing was his shoulder was out of place. It knocked him out." Darlington favored no one. Not even NASCAR's soon to be King. • • • Fast Fact II: In 1976, David Pearson won NASCAR's version of the Triple Crown by capturing the Daytona 500 , the World 600 and Southern 500. • • • "Bear grease" is no longer a part of track preparation, but the Darlington stripe remains very much in evidence. When track officials moved the start/finish line to what had previously been the backstretch in 1997, the difficulty in navigating the cantankerous old circuit remained unchanged. Turn 1 didn't become any easier simply because it was now Turn 3. "You don't go to race tracks ... going, 'Man, I've got to beat this track,' " Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . said. "The track's not even a factor, not even a part of the conversation. ... But when you go to Darlington, the track is a competitor. The track becomes as big of a challenge as trying to beat the next guy in front of you or outrunning your peers. "Darlington is one of the few ovals that can reach out and grab you if you're not paying attention or being careful. Most of the tracks we go to you won't really run into the wall or spin out unless you have a failure on the car. Here, if you don't watch every corner, every little thing you do ... that challenge of it, how hard it is and the odds are so bad to come here and get a win, you're up against so much more. I think that's what adds to the appreciation for what it means to win here." • • • Fast Fact III: The movie "Days of Thunder" starring Tom Cruise debuts in 1990. Cruise's character, Cole Trickle, scores his first NASCAR win at Darlington Raceway . Naturally. • • • At the close of the 1984 season, then series sponsor RJ Reynolds, through its Winston brand, unveiled what was known as the Winston Million, a program that offered a $1 million bonus to any driver winning three of the series "Big Four" events -- the Daytona 500 , the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway , the Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500. Previously, only two drivers had won three of the four races in a single season -- LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969) and Pearson (1976). In the first year of the Winston Million program, Bill Elliott came to Darlington having won two of the first three, at Daytona and Talladega. In the Southern 500, the future Hall of Famer had to nimbly avoid a spin by Dale Earnhardt and a smoking Yarborough entry in the latter stages of the race to seal the victory. It was a career-defining moment for the Dawsonville, Georgia native, earning him the nickname "Million Dollar Bill." It wasn't until 1997 before another driver collected the bonus, again with a victory in the Southern 500. Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon held off a tremendous charge by Jeff Burton in the final two laps to pocket the bonus in the final year of the program. • • • Fast Fact IV : Johnny Mantz won only one NASCAR premier series event -- the inaugural Southern 500 held Sept. 4, 1950. The race featured a 75-car starting lineup and took more than six hours to complete. • • • Former crew chief Ray Evernham guided Gordon to four consecutive Southern 500 wins from 1995 through 1998. The most memorable win? "The million dollar win," Evernham said without hesitation. "Because we did not have a car to win that day. "We won that as a team and driver; we kept working on the car. I think we made 16 pit stops that day. "The car was basically destroyed -- front clip bent, rear clip bent, door bars ... we just stayed after it and won that race and we really shouldn't have. But we did." Evernham won 47 races as a crew chief for Gordon, with victories coming at nearly every stop on the schedule, including Daytona, Charlotte and Indianapolis. But Darlington, he said, holds a special place. "I love this place," he said. "It's still my favorite track. It challenged me. I could make a difference as a chassis person -- that's different from being a crew chief. "I loved making the car handle. The springs, the shocks, getting all that stuff right. You could make changes here. This is like a damn dirt track. You have to chase it. You chase it all day long -- 500 miles, five hours sometimes, you chase this race track. "You had to have a tough driver and a great pit crew. Our wins here to me are some of our best wins because we really won those races as a group. Jeff had to be the best, I had to be the best, the crew had to be the best. This place, to run as hard and as long as you do here, everything had to be just right. And when I look back at Darlington, they're some of the most satisfying wins that I had as a crew chief." MORE: Photos, facts about Darlington