To say that Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp is fired up for the brand-new racing season would be an understatement. From the debut of the Next Gen car to a pair of race weekends at the “Track Too Tough to Tame”, Tharp is like a kid in a candy store. To illustrate his enthusiasm, Tharp held a media availability on Tuesday and wasted no time in getting into what he believes will be a great year on the track.
“There’s as much anticipation for this NASCAR season as I’ve ever seen,” Tharp beamed to open the call. “Based upon the momentum that we had last year with the great racing and the great finish, certainly the champion in the Cup Series with Kyle Larson. And then to start things off with the exhibition race at the L.A. Coliseum was really such a great form of entertainment, something that we haven’t seen in quite some time.”
After the pandemic pushed the debut back a season, NASCAR will unveil its Next Gen vehicle this weekend at the Daytona 500. The seventh-generation Cup series race car has certainly been a hot topic during the offseason, though it’s not a totally new idea. The car was actually inspired by Australian Supercar and GT3 racers. It will also give the manufacturers an opportunity to shape the race cars in an effort to better represent the Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Toyota Camry.
“The Next Gen car brings a lot of new storylines into the sport,” noted Tharp. “I don’t think there’s been more excitement surrounding a new car than this one. They spent a lot of time and effort into this. Almost three years of development.”
Tharp also discussed changes to Darlington’s “Throwback Weekend” in May, as well as his prognosis for a return to pick-up basketball following offseason knee surgery.