Southern 500 Returns To Darlington

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Old and new traditions will unite during the 60th season of racing at Darlington Raceway when the Southern 500 name returns to the track “Too Tough to Tame” on Mother’s Day weekend in 2009, track president Chris Browning announced today.

In 2009 the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway is sure to be an even bigger spectacle as the race will once again be known as the Southern 500.

Two of NASCAR’s toughest competitors, and former Darlington Raceway winners, are looking forward to once again gunning for a win in the Southern 500.

"When I think of Darlington and the history of the track, the Southern 500 is what comes to mind," said Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. "I think it's great the Southern 500 is coming back to Darlington.

"I look forward to the opportunity of possibly winning a sixth Southern 500 during Darlington's 60th season of competition."

“Winning the 50th Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in 1999 was one of the highlights of my NASCAR career,” said Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 AT&T Chevrolet. “With so much history that surrounds Darlington Raceway, bringing the Southern 500 back on Mother’s Day weekend in 2009 is going to make winning even more prestigious.”

A track rich in tradition, Darlington Raceway ran the first Southern 500 on September 4, 1950. Californian Johnny Mantz drove to victory that day after starting in the back of a 75-car field. The tradition continued for 54 years with Jimmie Johnson winning the last Southern 500 in 2004.

Beginning in 2005 a new tradition began at Darlington Raceway: Saturday night racing on Mother’s Day weekend. Fans have turned out in full force to see the stars of NASCAR dance with the “Lady in Black” under the lights. The event has quickly become one of the most difficult tickets to get on the NASCAR schedule and has sold out for four consecutive years.

“The Southern 500 is synonymous with Darlington Raceway,” said Browning. “Combining the tradition of the Southern 500 and Mother’s Day weekend under the lights at Darlington is a real treat for NASCAR fans everywhere.”

Ticket renewal orders are being accepted now for fans that purchased tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event in 2008. For those fans who did not purchase tickets in 2008 but wish to do so in 2009 seat request orders are being taken to secure your spot in the grandstand of your choice. Tickets to the 2009 Southern 500, as well as the NASCAR Nationwide Series Diamond Hill Plywood 200 will go on-sale to the general public on September 20, 2008. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Darlington Raceway ticket office at 866-459-RACE or online at http://www.darlingtonraceway.com/tickets/.

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