Ryan Newman's fondness for Darlington Raceway has translated to positive results over the years. A victory has been the only thing lost in translation.
Newman hopes that his luck will change to put him over the hump at NASCAR's oldest superspeedway in Saturday night's Bojangles' Southern 500 (FOX, 7 p.m. ET).
"I've always loved Darlington," Newman said. "When we first went and tested a Nationwide car there back in the day, it just fit me. I've always had good cars there, a good feeling and I look forward to another opportunity."
The opportunities to contend for a win at the historic circuit have been plentiful since Newman joined the Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2002; his Darlington portfolio has an impressive seven top-five finishes in 13 races.
Additionally, Newman -- one of the series' best qualifiers -- has five front-row starts and one pole position at the 1.366-mile track. That history could tilt in his favor in Friday's qualifying as he sits just one pole away from a milestone 50th Coors Light Pole Award.
One thing that hasn't been on his side is Darlington racing luck.
"We had a dominant race car (in 2003) and they gave me a drink bottle and I hit the kill switch and we never realized it for six laps under green," said Newman, who led the most laps (120) but finished 23rd in that year's Southern 500. "Crazy things have happened to us and we'll just try to go back and try another shot. We used to have two chances and now we only have one, so there's a lot of pressure on us."
Another driver who will grab plenty of spotlight at Darlington is Danica Patrick, who appeared with Newman at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday to promote the May 27 Coca-Cola 600. Patrick will be pulling double-duty in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races this weekend in hopes of gaining as much experience as possible in her first visit to one of the sport's trickiest tracks.
Patrick plans to enter 10 Sprint Cup races this year; given the choice, she said she'd rather Darlington came later on that 10-race slate.
"I just think that's not the way the schedule worked out," said Patrick, whose only other Sprint Cup start was an abbreviated 38th-place finish this year in the Daytona 500. "I mean to be honest, it was going to be Darlington first, so at least I've driven the car, at least I'm comfortable with the guys, at least I'm fitting comfortably in the car, and we've had time to test. It could've been worse, but it's as good as it can be."
Greg Biffle, on the heels of his fifth-place finish last weekend at Talladega, remains the Sprint Cup Series leader, leading Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth by seven points in the standings. Biffle is a two-time Southern 500 winner, going back-to-back in 2005 and '06.