Staff writer Andrew Shain reports from Darlington Raceway where 14 NASCAR drivers are scheduled to talk -- including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Plus, catch a little color the track:
Agelss wonder: JD Motorsports of Gaffney is fielding a car for 76-year-old James Hylton, who will become the oldest driver in one of NASCAR's major three series when he starts 43rd in the Nationwide race at Darlington tonight. The Virginia native breaking his own record set when he drove in a 2008 Nationwide race. Hylton first raced in NASCAR in 1964 and has won twice on the top circuit.
Rain delay: The showers have stopped, but Nationwide qualifying has been cancelled. Sprint Cup qualifying is a go at 5:10 p.m. Irmo's Danny Efland will start 24th based on his practice speed. He is making his second start of the season.
A Kurt run (updated): Sprint Cup practice was halted about halfway through Friday when Kurt Busch smacked into the wall after a tire went down. No word on what he said to his crew. Last weekend, Busch blistered his team with an expletive-laden tirade over the radio for a poor-handling car that finished 22nd after a crash. After his crash at Darlington, Busch said he was able to clear the air with the leadership at Penske Racing this week and admitted venting on the radio was not his best recourse. “We’ve seen things deteriorate and I’ve held it in, held it in,” Busch said.
Carl Jr.: Sprint Cup points leader Carl Edwards and his wife, Kate, welcomed their second child on Wednesday, a son named Michael. "They’re doing really well," Edwards said. "She’s a great mom, and I hope she enjoys this Mother’s Day.”
Bad boy Jimmie Asked about how he maintains such self control even when his crew chief pushes his buttons like he did last week, five-time Cup chance Jimmie Johnson shared a story from his days of dirt bicycle racing when he collided with a competitor: "As I'm going to pick up my bike, he's shoving me so I can't get to my bike so he can get to his bike. We end up in the wrestling match out there. We're like 11, 12 years old. We end up in this wrestling match out there. I get up before him. I shove him down. When he got off the track, I launched my bike over towards the pit area and knocked him off his bike. At that moment, when I turned around and saw my parents, my dad's shocked face and my mom's shocked face that I acted that way, I think there's something from that moment that kind of stuck with me. There's just something in that moment when I was 10, 11 years old, I realized I didn't like how I felt after that. I was kind of embarrassed of it."
Junior (hearts) mom: Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he gave his mom, Brenda Jackson, her Mother's Day gifts last week and plans to hang out with her on Sunday "by the pool and drink a couple of beers together." Earnhardt was asked whether he really drinks beers with his mom: "She's like that. Well, she drinks wine mainly, but she'll drink a beer." Wonder if she would like Junior shave. His beard is growing out and looks a little mountain man-ish.
Newman vs. Montoya: Ryan Newman said he's "still not happy" after tangling with Juan Pablo Montoya at Richmond. "Respect went out the window," he said. Newman said he is unsure why the pair have had issues over the years. "It cost us a lot," said Newman, who lost a spot in the standings to ninth. Newman said he spoke with Montoya but did not indicate the problems were resolved. For his part, Montoya said: "I feel like I didn't do anything wrong." Like Newman, he said his team worried how banging around with another driver hurts he chances to make the Chase. Montoya's hopes took a blow with a 29th-place finish last week. He fell out of the top 10, losing three spots to settle at 12th.
Get a grip: After a morning practice, Nationwide Series points leader Justin Allgaier said tires were losing grip quicker than last year, but they are not losing speed. There also was a a bit more tire wear reported among teams, he said. This is the fourth year since Darlington was repaved and drivers expected the track to lose some of the grip -- and start to take a toll of tires.
Jeff Gordon, NASCAR test pilot?: Gordon said his head hurt a little bit after smacking an unprotected part of the inside backstrectch wall at Richmond International Speedway last weekend, but he was surprised when he caught a replay after leaving the medical center. "I was shocked there wasn't a SAFER barrier there," he said. Several drivers thanked Gordon for showing a shortcoming at the track, the third time in four seasons he managed to find a part of a track wall without the barrier. "I don’t want to be that test pilot for those things," he said. Other thoughts the four-time series champ: with all of his obligations with his team and family, he feels like he has more down time at the track and the challenge of Darlington makes the track "the 43rd competitor out there."
Dinger's doings: A.J. Allmendinger, the driver of the No. 43 car made famous by Richard Petty, is one of the season's pleasant surprises, sitting just outside the Chase in 11th. But he has done well at Darlington where he an average finish of 29th. "I do enjoy the place, but this year is completely different than last year," he said.
Not going to waste: Darlington Raceway owner International Speedway Corp. announced it will donate unused food from its concession arm from this weekend to Harvest Hope in Florence. This is being done in conjunction with Gordon's new sponsor Drive to End Hunger, an effort by AARP. About 7,000 pounds of food were donated to a food bank after the Daytona 500.