Jeff Burton likes tradition, and he can't think of many places that offer much more than Darlington Raceway -- especially on Labor Day weekend.
Although Burton won the TranSouth 400 over the egg-shaped oval they call The Lady in Black last March, he considers that just another race at the old country track. Mention the Southern 500, and the 32-year-old Virginian's tone becomes one of reverence.
"The Southern 500 is the next level up," said Burton, who today will try to win the oldest NASCAR race (1 p.m., ESPN). "I don't want to downplay the win in the spring, because that was a big deal, but the Southern 500 is history."
Yes, and Burton wants to become more than a footnote in its 50th running. But he says milestones have nothing to do with that.
Only a handful of professional sports arenas are older than the 1.366-mile track, where the first big-time stock car race was run in 1950.
"Darlington is like playing at Fenway Park . . . Cameron Indoor Stadium . . . Soldier Field," he said. "It's history."
It's also the toughest track for most Winston Cup drivers, but one Burton has mastered. In addition to winning the TranSouth 400, he has waged stirring duels with Jeff Gordon before finishing second in each of the past two Southern 500s.
Gordon is trying to become the first driver to win the same 500-mile race five straight times. A victory also would tie Cale Yarborough's record of five Southern 500 wins.
In the Busch Grand National Dura-Lube 200 Saturday at Darlington, Mark Martin continued his domination of Darlington with his sixth Busch victory there since 1987.
Bliss wins at Holland
Vern Bliss of Arcade won the Bud 100 at Holland Speedway Saturday night, taking control of the feature race with six laps remaining.
Troy Williams of Bliss won the 25-lap Pro Modified feature, Tom Reese Jr. of West Seneca the 25-lap Pro Truck feature, Keith Dempster the 20-lap Can-Am feature, Mike Spagnola the 15-lap Charger feature and Marty Hughes the 15-lap Figure 8 feature.