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However, Darlington modernized and expanded, adding lights and nearly 4,000 seats. It most recently completed $10 million in improvements that included the first repaving in 13 years and a massive new infield entrance tunnel.
The track also struck gold with its Mother's Day weekend date, which has sold out all four times.
"When I think of Darlington and the history of the track, the Southern 500 is what comes to mind," said driver Jeff Gordon, who has won five Southern 500s and seven times total at Darlington. "I look forward to the opportunity of possibly winning a sixth."
Terry Labonte won the final Labor Day weekend Southern 500 in 2003.
Former racer and current TV analyst Darrell Waltrip, whose last NASCAR victory was the 1992 Southern 500, said Darlington's appeal comes in taming the oddly shaped layout and matching accomplishments with some of the sport's greatest names.
"It's anything but routine racing," he said.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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