This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.
The Track Too Tough to Tame is the site this weekend for the first race in the 2021 Chase for the Cup. NASCAR changed the schedule last season and moved the start of the Chase from Las Vegas to the unique oval in Darlington. Darlington Raceway is an egg-shaped 1.366-mile oval unlike any race track on the circuit. It's not an intermediate oval and not a superspeedway, but somewhere in between.
The course has two distinctly different sets of turns. Turns 3 and 4 are much narrower than turns 1 and 2. This is a challenging aspect for crew chiefs as the handling setup for the stock cars is a bit more complex. You have to find a happy "middle ground" for your handling set up so that one set of turns doesn't upset the car. All this combined with the 23-25-degree variable banking, and wide racing grooves makes for some of the most exciting, side-by-side racing that NASCAR has to offer.
The first thing that the casual fan will notice when watching a race at Darlington Raceway is how high the cars run through the turns. On most ovals, the preferred line is low and tight to the inside lines, but Darlington is a very unique facility. Most drivers prefer to run the high line right out next to the wall and carry that momentum into the straight-aways as they accelerate coming out of the turns. This historic oval's unique configuration almost always makes the high groove the fastest