Different Darlington for drivers

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) - Darlington Raceway hasn't been the same since a multimillion dollar repaving before the 2008 race.

Sprint Car drivers have noticed -- and some want the old "Lady in Black" back.

Mark Martin is the 2009 Southern 500 winner. He says he can tell you that it's different.

There was no doubt the track needed work to smooth over the cracks and ruts that developed at a facility built in 1949. So a mini workyard went up outside the track in 2007 for the paving project and construction of a more modern infield access tunnel.

The result? A surface where drivers testing in March 2008 hit 200 mph at the end of Darlington's backstretch.

The faster speeds have continued -- Southern 500 qualifying records were set each of the last two years -- and drivers have had less margin for error when racing near the wall.

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