Couple the changes NASCAR has made to improve the action on the track with the historically great racing that takes place at Darlington Raceway, and it's no wonder that track president Chris Browning is excited about Saturday's Showtime Southern 500.
Since last year's Southern 500, NASCAR has changed the way restarts are handled following a caution period, and they've brought back the spoiler instead of the rear wing.
"When they restart races after a caution, they'll line up and do the double-file restarts as opposed to the old way. That's going to be pretty exciting here because of how tight this track is and how tough it is," Browning said.
"The other thing is the spoiler is going to be a big story over our race weekend, especially with what we saw happen at Talladega (a record 88 lead changes). This track is large enough that aerodynamics do come into play in a big way … It's going to have a bearing on the race because of the configuration of the track.
"And the three attempts at a green-white-checkered to attempt to end the race under green flag conditions is another change since last year, which I think is a big positive.
"Couple all of that together with the fact that the track has aged another year, and I think the race will be even better this year."
Browning said exciting races in the weeks leading up to an event can help drive ticket sales, and the phones have been ringing steadily at the Darlington Raceway ticket office. A favorable weather forecast also helps. Last year ticket prices were reduced on 9,000 seats, and this year prices have been reduced on 40,000 tickets.
"Ticket sales are going good," he said. "We've seen a trend at other events, and we're kind of following that trend ourselves, where the buying window has gotten kind of compressed. People are waiting to buy a little bit later than they historically have. But the last two weeks, our daily sales have beaten last year's daily sales every day except one."
And another big boost for the Mother's Day weekend event is the addition of a new sponsor. Showtime Networks agreed this spring to a multi-year deal to become the title sponsor of the race.
"It's neat to work with a company that is so promotionally minded," Browning said. "They really want to interact with the fans, meet with the fans, do things with the fans."