NO JOKE – HARVICK COLLECTS HIS FIRST CUP WIN AT TEXAS IN AAA TEXAS 500
FORT WORTH, Texas (November 6, 2017) – Every year that Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick would arrive at Texas Motor Speedway, track president Eddie Gossage would joke with him that Victory Lane was open on Sundays.
Harvick was familiar with the speedway’s Victory Lane on Fridays and Saturdays, having won five XFINITY Series races and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race since he made his first visit in 2001. But in those 29 NASCAR Cup Series career starts entering Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, Texas Motor Speedway was one of only three tracks on the schedule that Harvick had not won at in his career.
After Sunday, Harvick’s list has been reduced to two – Pocono and Kentucky – and the timing could not have been any more perfect to collect that first career win at Texas Motor Speedway. The victory in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 was not only a breakthrough at Texas Motor Speedway, but it provided him an automatic berth in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 19.
“Every time I come to Texas, it’s an ongoing joke,” Harvick said in the post-race press conference. “Eddie and I have a good relationship, but it’s an ongoing joke. You pull in the motorhome lot. You see the bag sitting outside the door, handwritten note, surely there’s some wisecrack in there that refers to not being in Victory Lane. He’s always been very supportive. But he definitely has held that over my head for about 17 years, since I started. It’s nice to get that monkey off our back.”
With Kyle Busch already in the Championship 4 following his Round of 8 win at Martinsville and Martin Truex Jr. advancing on points following his runner-up finish in the AAA Texas 500, the win was critical to Harvick’s run at another championship.
“I think the timing of it is probably the best thing,” said Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion. “I think not having to go to Phoenix and count points, try to win the race, do all the things that you might have to do, especially in this scenario, because if it wasn’t me, it could have been the 11 car (Hamlin) very easily. That puts everybody in a bad spot going to Phoenix. So I think with three cars locked in, you have to go there with the mindset, if you’re not already in, of winning the race. That’s hard to do. It’s hard to say that, I don’t have any other option other than win the race.”
The AAA Texas 500 also placed Harvick in elusive company in Texas Motor Speedway history. He joins Busch as the only drivers to have a victory in all three NASCAR national series – Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series – in the speedway’s history.
Kevin Harvick snapped a 29-race winless streak at Texas Motor Speedway with his victory in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. The longest winless streak now belongs to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray, who remains winless in 28 appearances at Texas Motor Speedway. Behind McMurray is Martin Truex Jr. (25 starts) and Clint Bowyer (24).
Speeds proved to be fast during Friday’s Texas Lottery Salute to Veterans Qualifying Days for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
The previous qualifying record was held by three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, who clocked in with a lap of 200.111 mph / 26.985 seconds. Five drivers surpassed the record during the final round of qualifying, with Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch establishing a new mark with a speed of 200.915 mph / 26.877 seconds.
Others shattering Stewart’s previous mark included Denny Hamlin (200.617 mph / 26.917 sec.), Stewart-Haas’ Kevin Harvick (200.378 mph / 26.949 sec.), Erik Jones (200.326 mph / 26.956 sec.) and Kyle Busch (200.252 mph / 26.966 sec.).
“I said, ‘Yeah, there’s a driver and crew chief going to get fired Monday morning,” Stewart said jokingly in the post-race press conference. “Then I realized I couldn’t fire the other guys that broke the record, too. I got to let them off the hook.
“If anybody had to break it, I’m glad it’s in our organization, Kurt. They did an awesome job. Kurt knows how to lay a lap down like that. It’s cool to see him be able to pull something like that off. It’s sad, because I hate to lose that record. If you’re going to lose it, you want to lose it to somebody in‑house. Those are two guys that I don’t mind losing it to.”
NO LAP OF LUXURY
Leading the most Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series laps at Texas Motor Speedway has not translated into a trip to Victory Lane. In the previous five races, the driver leading the most laps has failed to win. Martin Truex Jr. led a race-high 107 laps in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, but failed to close the race with a victory. In the spring, Ryan Blaney led a race-high 148 laps only to finish 12th. Brad Keselowski started the trend when he set the record for most laps led by a non-race winner – leading 312 laps during the 2015 AAA Texas 500 but finishing second to Jimmie Johnson.
Erik Jones became just the second driver to sweep both NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Texas Motor Speedway in the same season. Jones, who was victorious in April’s My Bariatric Solutions 300, dominated once again by leading 142 of 200 laps for his third career XFINITY Series victory at Texas Motor Speedway. He joins Kyle Busch, who accomplished the feat in 2008 and again in ’09.
Saturday’s win came from the pole and it was the second time Jones has achieved that at Texas Motor Speedway with April of 2015 being the other. Only two other drivers in Texas Motor Speedway history have won an XFINITY Series race from the pole, Busch in April of 2009 and ’16, and Carl Edwards in April of 2011.
Jones has finished in the top five in all six NASCAR XFINITY Series appearances at Texas and has led 368 laps during that span.
JOHNNY ON THE SPOT
Johnny Sauter won Friday night’s JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief, moving him into a tie for second for most NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories at Texas Motor Speedway. The victory was his fourth at the 1.5-mile speedway, moving him in a tie with Brendan Gaughan. The all-time career NCWTS wins leader is Todd Bodine with six. Sauter also became the fifth driver to win the same race in consecutive years at Texas, joining Gaughan (2002-‘03 spring, ’02-’03 fall), Bodine (’04-’05 fall, ’06-’07 spring, ’09-’10 spring), Kyle Busch (’09-’10 fall) and Matt Crafton (’14-’15 spring).
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth made their 30th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career starts at Texas Motor Speedway in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. The group joins retired four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon for the all-time speedway record for career Cup starts.… Jimmie Johnson, a five-time winner of the AAA Texas 500, finished 27th in Sunday’s race, his worst performance at Texas since finishing 38th in November of 2009. It also marked just the fourth time in 29 career starts that he did not finish among the top 14 drivers. … Kenseth moved into sole possession of second place for all-time top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway following his fourth-place effort in the AAA Texas 500. He now has 19, which trails only Johnson (21). It also was his 14th career top-five finish at Texas, which also ranks second to Johnson (15). … Earnhardt Jr. led three laps in the AAA Texas 500, his first Cup laps led at Texas Motor Speedway since leading two in April of 2011. … Kyle Larson, who finished 37th in the AAA Texas 500, led his first career Cup laps at Texas Motor Speedway. He led 74 laps Sunday after being shut out in his previous eight starts. … Martin Truex Jr.’s runner-up finish in the AAA Texas 500 was his sixth consecutive top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway. In his last four starts, he has led 463 laps, including a race-high 107 on Sunday. … Denny Hamlin’s third-place finish in the AAA Texas 500 was his best performance at Texas Motor Speedway since he won both Cup races in 2011. His previous best during that span of 12 races was seventh in November of 2013. He also led 65 laps, which were 10 more than he had in his previous 13 starts combined.
SEVEN-TIME CUP CHAMP JOHNSON’S SILVER BULLET IN NASCAR PLAYOFFS COULD BE AAA TEXAS 500
FORT WORTH, Texas (November 1, 2017) – Seven-time and defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson may not be his dominant self in the NASCAR Playoffs, but don’t count him out just yet.
Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (1 p.m. CT, TV: NBC Sports Network, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM, 95.9 The Ranch locally) could easily fuel his pursuit of a record-breaking eighth Cup championship.
A win at Texas in the Round of 8 segment provides that automatic berth in the Championship 4 set for Sunday, Nov. 19, at Homestead-Miami Speedway and then it comes down to Johnson having to outperform three other drivers for another series crown. That is where he excels, but the difficult part is getting that berth right now.
Johnson has not registered a win since June at Dover and has not shown his usual flashes of brilliance since the post-season began in September.
Through seven playoff races, he has finished better than eighth just once (3rd at Dover). Heading into Texas, he finds himself below the cutline in fifth and Kyle Busch won at Martinsville to secure one of those four berths. He is behind locked-in Busch, 67 points behind standings leader Martin Truex Jr., 27 back of Brad Keselowski and three behind Kevin Harvick in the transfer spot.
But now he arrives at a track where he owns a record seven victories, including five of those coming in this annual fall playoff race. He won four in a row from 2012-15 before the streak ended with an 11th-place finish last year. He rebounded from that misstep by winning April’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on the newly repaved and reconfigured 1.5-mile oval.
How dominant has he been at Texas? In addition to his record number of wins, consider this in his 28 career starts:
Ranks first for career average starting position (9.42)
Ranks first for career average finishing position (8.1)
Ranks first for career laps led (1,041)
Ranks first for top-five finishes (15)
Ranks first for top-10 finishes (21)
“Last weekend was such a bummer, we had such high hopes for Martinsville,” said Johnson, referring to his 12th-place finish. “We maintained points, but we are now in must-win situations. These next two weeks are going to be high pressure. We’ve had success at Texas in the past, but again, it’s must win.”
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series opens Friday with an 85-minute practice beginning at Noon CT followed by the Salute To Veterans Qualifying Days Fueled by Texas Lottery at 5:15 p.m.
Tickets are available for the AAA Texas 500 as well as Friday’s JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief and Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 817.215.8500.
ON THE SURFACE
Texas Motor Speedway repaved and reconfigured its 1.5-mile oval prior to April’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 and the new surface proved challenging for all of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers.
So how did the current Round of 8 playoff contenders fare?
Five of the eight logged top-10 finishes led by Jimmie Johnson’s win. Kevin Harvick was fourth, Brad Keselowski sixth, Martin Truex Jr. eighth and Elliott ninth. Outside of the top 10 were Ryan Blaney (12th), Kyle Busch (15th) and Denny Hamlin (25th).
“Yeah, it’s a whole new deal with the repave,” said Busch, who has two NASCAR Cup Series wins at Texas. “It’s a part of our schedule; it’s a part of our sport. Five years from now, six years from now, it’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to that aspect of it. We struggled there in the spring, but I have heard the track has changed color a bit, so maybe the summer wore down the surface just a bit. Right out of the gate, going there, we’ll still be trying to put rubber down. It was slick, man. It was so treacherous, hard to get ahold of, hard to understand what you were feeling with your car because you would think you’re tight, that you’ve got all the grip in the world, that you’re going around the corner, and then, ‘Boom,’ it just busts loose right out from under you with no warning.”
GOING TO BAT
NBC Sports will be showcasing the BatCam for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 Round of 8 NASCAR Playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The robotic camera system will soar from above Turn 2 and down the backstretch of Texas Motor Speedway on more than a quarter-mile of cable to catch all the playoff drama of the AAA Texas 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. The technology also will be used for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 XFINITY Series playoff race Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
The BatCam is truly the superhero of television cameras as the system, which houses a Panasonic AK-HC1500G HD box camera, can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about a second and reach speeds exceeding 100 mph.
Mike Wells, the director of the NBC NASCAR broadcasts, has used the lightning-fast camera to show stock cars exiting Turn 2 or turned the camera around and had it head toward the cars for another dramatic view. The stock cars will be in excess of 195 miles per hour on the Texas Motor Speedway backstretch.
“It goes 0-60 mph in about a second,” Wells said. “From a mechanical standpoint, I can’t go into detail about how it works, but it’s based on a ball-bearing system. It is connected to fiber and does not use an RF signal, like our cameras on pit road. The BatCam is hooked to fiber cable, and the picture is solid and spectacular.”
Texas Motor Speedway will be the fifth of only six tracks where the BatCam will be utilized this season. Beginning in July at Daytona when NBC Sports took over the coverage from FOX Sports, the BatCam also was used at Michigan, Charlotte and Talladega. It also will be featured during the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“As far as racing, this is groundbreaking because it’s never been done before” Wells said. “We want to show people how cool that pack racing is from a new vantage point.”
NBC Sports also will enhance its coverage with 10 robotic cameras around Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval.
WORDS OF WISDOM
“Texas is a track where I really enjoy racing and where I’ve seen a lot of success in both the XFINITY and Truck Series. I’ve had Texas circled on the calendar as a place where we should run well and contend for a win. We didn’t have the best finish earlier this season at Texas, but as a team we’ve come a long ways since April and I think with a little luck, we can run up front and have a shot at the end in the Sport Clips Camry. I got my high school diploma at Texas a few years ago and my first win in the XFINTY Series, so Texas holds a lot of special memories for me and it would be cool to add my first Cup win to the list.” – Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie Erik Jones on his connection with Texas Motor Speedway over the years.
LOCKED AND LOADED
Kyle Busch is the one Round of 8 playoff contender who can run Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 and next week’s race at Phoenix without any trepidation. His win last week at Martinsville locked him into the Championship 4 race on Sunday, Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but his fellow competitors had better not expect him to be taking these two races lightly. He is strong at Texas with two wins (spring of 2013 and ’16) and 11 top-five finishes in 23 career Cup starts. His 15th-place finish in April’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 snapped a streak of five consecutive top-five finishes at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I think the biggest thing we can do is to allow ourselves to look at the next two weeks and try to keep on winning and allowing the anxiety level of these guys to keep amplifying each and every stage and each and every race and to keep them on their toes as to whether they are going to advance or not,” said Busch, who won the series crown in 2015. “If they all have to race for points and race for positions, that’s just going to make it harder for them.
“Anytime anyone automatically punches their ticket through, that gives them a breather and an opportunity to work on Homestead and what you need to focus on for that race. We’ll just keep racing hard and try and keep winning the next two weeks even though the pressure is off and see what we can do at Homestead.”
Kevin Harvick arrives at Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 in the fourth and final playoff transfer position as the Round of 8 moves to the second of three races in the segment.
Harvick holds a slim three-point lead over fifth-place Jimmie Johnson as the Round of 8 will determine which four playoff drivers will advance to the Championship 4 to vie for the title on Sunday, Nov. 19, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Interestingly, Texas Motor Speedway is one of three Cup tracks on the schedule that Harvick has yet to record a win, but the 2014 series champ arrives at the 1.5-mile oval with optimism.
In the last 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks, Harvick has scored the second-most points of any driver on the strength of nine top-10 finishes, including five among the top five. He also has led 748 laps, which also ranks second.
“Right now, our best tracks have been the 1.5-mile tracks,” Harvick said. “I feel like we are in contention to run with about anyone at those tracks and I think we’ve proven that as we’ve gone through the playoffs so far. I think Texas is a great opportunity for us to really get to Victory Lane, so (track president) Eddie Gossage will leave me alone about it, finally.
“If I had to pick one of the three to win in this round, I would have picked Texas, just so Eddie will get off my back about not having a win at Texas. It’d be great as a team and for myself personally to kind of cross that one off the list, so then I’d just have Kentucky and Pocono to worry about as far as tracks left to win at. Performance-wise, I think Phoenix is going to be good for us, but Texas leans toward our strong suit right now.”
Harvick arrives with a string of six consecutive top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway, including four of those finishes among the top five. In his most recent visit during April’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, he sat on the pole, led 77 laps and finished fourth. He also has had success in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series at the venue with five wins and two poles.
Houston native David Starr has ordered a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series/XFINITY Series double at his home track this weekend.
Starr will drive the No. 99 Whataburger Chevrolet for SS Green Light in Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 XFINITY Series race and the No. 66 Moore Freight Services Chevy for MBM Motorsports in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 Cup Series race.
“It’s really special to have the opportunity to run both races at my home track with longtime partner Whataburger and newcomer to the sport, Moore Freight Service. I couldn’t be more blessed,” Starr said. “I’m also pretty excited that Whataburger opened a location across from Texas Motor Speedway, it’s become a staple of mine and I’m sure the race fans will love it as well!”
Retiring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame on Saturday in the Grand Ballroom of The Speedway Club. Earnhardt Jr. will become the 19th inductee into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame at the luncheon that benefits Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas. The event, which begins at 11:30 a.m., also will include the presentation of awards to Kyle Busch (TMS Racer of the Year), James Hinchcliffe (Sportsmanship) and Mike Helton (Bruton Smith Legend). Note-Media spots are available for this event by contacting Louis Mora at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas Motor Speedway will distribute bobbleheads of 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick to the first 30,000 fans attending Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. Harvick is the final bobblehead in the three-driver series for 2017, following fellow Stewart-Haas Racing driver Danica Patrick (April) and Verizon IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal (June). Last year, Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner and three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart was featured as a bobblehead.
PACE CAR MAKES GAINES
Chip Gaines, who co-stars with his wife Joanna on HGTV’s hit television show Fixer Upper, will serve as the honorary pace car driver for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway. Gaines will lead a pack of 40 drivers, including the Round of 8 championship contenders, to the green flag in the official 2017 Chevrolet SS pace car in his role as the honorary pace car driver. Note-Gaines will be available to the media following his pace car practice at 8:30 a.m. CT Sunday on pit road.
George Shea, the master of ceremonies for the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest held in Coney Island, N.Y. on the Fourth of July, has been tabbed to introduce the Round of 8 playoff contenders during the pre-race activities for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR teams in all three national series will honor the state of Texas following the devastation from Hurricane Harvey with “Texas Strong” decals for all the race vehicles competing during the AAA Texas 500 race weekend. In the aftermath of the hurricane, NASCAR began an industry-wide drive for donations through its NASCAR Foundation. Donations through The NASCAR Foundation http://www.nascarfoundation.org provided truckloads of disaster relief supplies, such as bottled water, ready-to-eat food, hygiene items and more through the Foundation’s support of children and families being directly impacted by the storm.
NEED FOR SPEED
Defending co-champions E.P. Rayzor and B.B. Owen, along with newcomer Marsalis, were perfect in Turn 1 of Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read competition with 100 percent of their elementary school students achieving their reading goals.
Lantana’s E.P. Rayzor (Denton ISD), The Colony’s B.B. Owen (Lewisville) and Dallas’ Marsalis (Dallas ISD) paced the program-record 21 Dallas/Fort Worth elementary schools and more than 12,000 students that are participating for the entire 2017-18 school year.
Seven schools overall had 90 percent or more of their entire student bodies reach the pre-set Turn 1 reading goals with the above trio being joined by Roanoke’s Hughes (Northwest ISD) at 99 percent, Fort Worth’s Diamond Hill (Fort Worth ISD) at 96 percent, The Colony’s Peters Colony (Lewisville ISD) at 95 percent and Flower Mound’s Vickery (Lewisville ISD) at 94 percent.
The schools combined to read 218,244 books in the five-week Turn 1 scoring period.
Diamond Hill swept the Turn 1 individual and classroom honors. Second grader Eliam Guardado was the top individual reader in the KG-2nd grade division with 765 books read. Third-grader Leonardo Garcia led the 3rd-5th grade division with 172 books read.
Lina Reyes’ second-grade class averaged 394 books per student as the top KG-2nd grade classroom and Vianey Lemus Martinez’s fourth-grade class led 3rd-5th with an average of 42 books read per student.
Guardado and Garcia earned prize packs that also included four tickets each to Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway. Each student in the winning classrooms earned two tickets each to Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race as well as a cupcake or cookie party in their class courtesy of Levy Restaurants.
Since Speeding To Read began in 2011-12 with one pilot school, the program has impacted nearly 24,000 children from the 43 schools that competed in the first six years. Those students have combined to read nearly 3.7 million books in the program’s existence. Last year alone, the 10 schools and 5,049 students combined to read 678,887 books.
Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program is supported by the following partners: Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas, NASCAR, Verizon IndyCar Series, Lionel Racing, Speedway World, Levy Restaurants, The Speedway Club, aai Trophies and Awards of Plano, Woolley’s Frozen Custard and Team Texas High Performance Driving School.
TMS, JUNIOR NATION REFLECT ON EARNHARDT JR.’S CAREER
JR MOTORSPORTS RIDES HIGH ATOP THE XFINITY PLAYOFF STANDINGS ENTERING O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 300
FORT WORTH, Texas (November 1, 2017) – NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contenders looking to advance to the Championship 4 must go through JR Motorsports. The organization has its three championship contenders atop the standings entering Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 (7:30 p.m. CT, TV: NBC Sports Network, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM, 95.9 The Ranch locally).
Justin Allgaier, William Byron and Elliott Sadler sit first, second and third, respectively, and remain in control of advancing to the final round of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs. The trio has combined for five top-five and nine top-10 finishes in the four races of this year’s Playoffs as they prepare for the middle race of the Round of 8 segment. The round opened at Kansas two weeks ago with the series being idle this past weekend.
“We are excited for this round,” Byron said. “These are some really good race tracks for us. I feel like we’re going to have a strong round here so if we just need to keep it going in the right direction.”
What can push the three JR Motorsports drivers into the Championship 4 is collecting coveted stage points. The team has continued its mission during the first four races of the Playoffs and will continue this weekend.
“We feel like we’re in a good position as far as where we are in the standings,” Elliott said. “We’re going to go into this weekend with the mindset that we need to get as many stage points as we can, and ultimately try and win the race.”
For Byron, a run to the championship would put an exclamation mark on his final season with JR Motorsports. Byron continues his ascension up the NASCAR ladder, moving to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018 for Hendrick Motorsports in the No. 24 Chevrolet.
After missing out to compete in the Championship 4 in the Camping World Truck last year, Byron is determined to make it to Homestead-Miami Speedway this season with an opportunity to claim the championship.
“I want to get to that point and be able to apply myself and be able to see what I can do in that situation,” Byron said. “Every racer wants that one shot to have to win at Homestead. We just want to get to that point in the season and see what we can do from there.”
Byron and the JR Motorsports team will continue its quest for a championship Saturday evening during the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. The XFINITY Series opens at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday with practice sessions at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. The series will have same-day qualifying Saturday with the Texas Lottery Salute To Veterans Qualifying Days beginning at 5:05 p.m.
Tickets for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 begin at just $25 for adults and kids 12 and under are free. To purchase tickets, call the speedway ticket office at 817.215.8500 or visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
LONE STAR STATE OF MIND
This weekend marks a homecoming for NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contender Brennan Poole. Poole, a native of The Woodlands that is located just north of Houston, returns to his home track looking to get one step closer to securing a spot in the Championship 4.
Poole currently sits fourth in the championship standings with a five-point cushion over fifth-place Matt Tifft entering this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. He has found some late-season momentum in his pursuit of a championship with seven top-10 finishes in the last 10 races. The run has been highlighted by a career-best, second-place finish at Kentucky Speedway in September.
Poole earned his best Texas finish in last year’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 when he led two laps en route to an eighth-place finish.
Matt Tifft has proven to be the feel-good story of the 2017 season. Tifft is now more than a year removed from undergoing surgery to remove a slow-growing brain tumor. Now, the 21-year-old driver is looking to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship to write the final chapter of his incredible comeback story.
Tifft returns to Texas after finishing ninth during April’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 – his best finish at the Fort Worth venue. He also rides a streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes entering Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
“We are hitting the final stretch of our season and it is going to be important that we keep our focus going into Texas,” Tifft said. “We came away with a solid finish last race, but we need to make sure we are getting stage points and getting up to the front faster. We had a good finish at Texas earlier in the year and I look forward to building on that run.”
SOUND THE BELL
Christopher Bell is pulling double duty this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Bell, a championship favorite in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, will pilot the No. 18 entry for Joe Gibbs Racing in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
Earlier this month, Joe Gibbs Racing announced Bell would compete full-time in the XFINITY Series for the organization beginning in 2018. Bell is set to pilot the No. 18 Safelite Toyota in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
Bell is looking to maintain his momentum from the series’ last race at Kansas Speedway where he scored his first career XFINITY Series victory. Bell held off teammate Erik Jones in a dramatic finish.
For Bell, his rise up the NASCAR ladder has happened at warp speed. It was just two years ago that he was making his first start in the truck series at Iowa Speedway and now finds himself on his way to the XFINITY Series.
“I feel like it’s happened really quickly,” Bell said of how he has gotten to this point in his racing career. “The fact that I’ve been able to go from racing on the dirt to racing in the truck series to now starting to get my feet wet in the XFINITY Series, it’s only been the span of a couple of years.
“It wasn’t that long ago where I was going down Interstate 35 to Dallas and running Cowtown Speedway and all those dirt tracks down there. And I’d drive right by the big track at Texas and wonder if I’d ever get my opportunity there. Now I’ve got several races there and it’s one of my favorite tracks. It’s cool to see how it’s come together and it’s been a quick ride, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
TEXAS HIGH SCHOOLER RECOGNIZED ON XFINITY CAR
Fifteen-year-old Aaron Singleton lost his life a result of a seizure during a football game nearly a year ago. Singleton, a Joshua High School junior varsity football player, will be one of the many faces on NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Joey Gase’s Donate Life Texas car that features photographs of donation and transplant honorees.
Gase, an advocate for Donate Life America following the sudden passing of his mother and donation of her organs, has continued to honor those who donate. Along with the photo of Singleton, his family and friends will have their painted handprints featured on the car.
For Singleton’s mother Cassondara, the honor is just another reminder of her son’s impact.
“When they first told me, I cried because I couldn’t believe that he was going to be honored that way,” she said. “It’s amazing that he can still live on and that we can contribute as a family like that. I think we’re going to be in awe. It’s going to be overwhelming, but it’s going to be amazing.”
WEDDING BELLS ARE RINGING
The sounds of the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR tripleheader weekend will include roaring engines, tires screeching, fans cheering and … wedding bells ringing.
Texas Motor Speedway will serve as the site where Michael Minty and Pam Sachs officially tie the knot during a special wedding ceremony on the start/finish line Saturday at 10 a.m. CT. The couple has shared many special moments at tracks across the country and found it only appropriate their special day be held at Texas Motor Speedway.
“We are die-hard NASCAR fans, whether on TV or at the track – which we prefer,” Sachs said. “It just seemed like a logical and perfect way for us to get married at a place we so love.”
Sachs, from Houston, and Minty, from Corona, Calif., will have a small gathering of family and friends in attendance as Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries Chaplin Bret Shisler presides over the ceremony.
TEXAN TAKES CENTER STAGE
Madison McWilliams, a rapidly emerging teenage pop star from Austin, Texas, will perform that National Anthem prior to the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. This weekend will mark the largest crowd McWilliams has performed in front of in her young career. She has performed at several major events this year, including Austin’s ever-popular SXSW in March and Make-A-Wish World Wish Day during April in San Antonio. She serves as an official Make-A-Wish ambassador for Central and South Texas and her song “Fighter” was written as a tribute to the Make-A-Wish children.
“Performing the National Anthem at Texas Motor Speedway is a dream come true,” McWilliams said. “As a native Texan, being at the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 is already a thrill but having this opportunity with NASCAR is beyond anything I could imagine. I’m really looking forward to it – not to mention I just turned 16 so I can see which car I should ask my Mom for.”
Cup regular Kyle Larson enters Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 as the defending race winner. Larson picked up his first career victory at Texas during last year’s event, passing polesitter Brad Keselowski on the final restart and led the final 30 laps for the victory. … Of the 10 previous NASCAR XFINITY Series races, Cup regulars have won eight. Erik Jones (spring race of 2015) and Chase Elliott (spring of ‘14) are the only full-time XFINITY drivers to visit Victory Lane during that span. This week Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Ryan Blaney and Larson look to continue the Cup dominance. … Joe Gibbs Racing has won five of the previous nine XFINITY Series races at Texas Motor Speedway, most recently sending Jones to Victory Lane in April’s My Bariatric Solutions 300. Playoff contender Matt Tifft, along with Christopher Bell and Erik Jones, will look to make it six in the last 10.
TRUCK SERIES PLAYOFF LEADER BELL EYES TEXAS SWEEP AT JAG METALS 350 DRIVING HURRICANE HARVEY RELIEF
FORT WORTH, Texas (October 30, 2017) – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship contender Christopher Bell is all smiles as he returns to Texas Motor Speedway for Friday’s JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief.
Bell, a native of nearby Norman, Okla., has reason to smile as he holds a comfortable points lead as he looks to secure a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The regular-season champion, who won at Texas in June, is looking to sweep both races in the season and punctuate what he hopes is a championship season.
“I feel great,” Bell said of entering this weekend’s JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief. “Texas, there is no better place to go. With the repave, it’s really fast. It’s always really tight racing. It’s one of my favorite race tracks to go to.”
Bell has stockpiled 47 Playoff points to provide some breathing room between him and driver Austin Cindric who sits at the cutoff line – 45 points back of Bell. With drivers in desperation mode, Bell understands the intensity on the track will reach a new high during the JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief.
“You saw last year at the Playoff race at Texas, it was extremely intense and there was a lot of stuff going on and it’s a very pressure-filled race,” Bell said. “I expect this year’s JAG Metals 350 to be the same way. It’s going to be very, very intense and you’ll have to get that win to lock into Homestead. Thankfully, I have a lot of points built up so I’m not in the must-win situation, but there are a lot of guys that really need the win to take the pressure off for Phoenix.”
Bell led a race-high 92 laps en route to winning June’s winstaronlinegaming.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. He is looking to become the third driver to sweep the Texas truck races since 2004 and first since Johnny Sauter in 2012.
“For me personally, Texas is my favorite track since I started racing in NASCAR,” Bell said. “Even with the repave (this year), my trucks have seemed to be good every time we’ve gone there. To win in the spring (summer) obviously gives me a little bit of extra confidence.”
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series takes to the track on Thursday for a pair of 55-minute practice sessions (2 and 4 p.m. CT). Salute to Veterans Qualifying Days Fueled by Texas Lottery for the JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief is set for 3 p.m. Friday.
The battle for the final four spots in the quest for a championship continues Friday evening during the JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief (7 p.m., TV: FOX Sports 1, Radio: MRN, SiriusXM, 95.9 The Ranch locally). Tickets start at just $25 for adults and kids 12 and under get in free. Tickets are available by calling the speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
This weekend’s JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief marks the final visit to Texas Motor Speedway for Brad Keselowski Racing. The team, which has competed in the truck series since 2008, announced earlier this year it would suspend operations following the season.
The team looks to end on a high note as 19-year-old Austin Cindric remains in contention to earn a spot in the Championship 4. Cindric, who picked up his first career truck series victory in September at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, is 11 points back of fourth-place Ben Rhodes, who sits above the cutline.
Cindric’s teammate and fellow rookie Chase Briscoe nearly picked up a victory for the organization at Texas during June’s winstaronlinegaming.com 400. Briscoe finished runner-up to Christopher Bell in what amounted to a photo finish. Bell and Briscoe crossed the start/finish line neck-and-neck before the race’s final caution fell with Bell just narrowly ahead of Briscoe.
While the young stars of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series have received much of the attention, it’s a pair of veterans that can return to the spotlight this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
Championship contenders Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton both have favorable records when it comes to racing at Texas Motor Speedway. Sauter is the race’s defending winner and has three victories in all, the other two coming when he swept the 2012 season. He also has posted 14 top-10 finishes among his 18 career starts.
While Sauter’s stats remain impressive, Crafton could rival the numbers. Crafton has a pair of victories – winning the June race back to back in 2014 and ’15 – and arrives with a streak of 12 consecutive top-10 finishes at Texas. In all, Crafton has 22 top-10 finishes in 33 career starts, the most among truck series drivers.
EYES ON TEXAS
John Hunter Nemechek had a weekend to forget at Martinsville Speedway. Nemechek finished 30th in the 32-car field after brake failure caused him to slam into the outside wall and end his day.
The wreck not only damaged his car but also did severe damage to his championship aspirations, making his path to the Championship 4 even more difficult. Nemechek now faces a must-win situation as he enters Friday’s JAG Metals 350 Driving Hurricane Harvey Relief. He is 28 points back of fourth place with two races remaining. While the order is tall, Nemechek is up to the challenge.
“We’re coming for them,” Nemechek said following the results at Martinsville. “They won’t know what’s going to hit them in Texas.”
Nemechek had top-five finishes in the first two stages of June’s winstaronlinegaming.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, but finished 21st as a result of an accident. He owns one top-10 finish in four career starts at Texas, seventh in June of last year.
GRADUATING TO VICTORY LANE
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ newest winner is looking to add to his list of memories at Texas Motor Speedway. Noah Gragson, who earned his first career victory last weekend at Martinsville, heads to Texas looking to build on that momentum.
Gragson’s most recent trip to Texas was one to remember. He started the day earning his first career NCWTS pole while setting a new qualifying record at Texas with a speed of 185.134 mph. Later, he was awarded his high school diploma during a special graduation ceremony during pre-race activities.
IS TEXAS EARNHARDT JR.’S BEST CHANCE TO CLOSE OUT HIS NASCAR CUP CAREER WITH A VICTORY?
FORT WORTH, Texas (October 19, 2017) – With Talladega Superspeedway in the review mirror and five races remaining in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, where is Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s best chance to close out his career with a victory?
Based off his career statistics and recent success, it points to the 1.5-mile oval where he recorded his first career Cup as well as XFINITY Series wins – Texas Motor Speedway. It also would place fitting bookends of his storied career with his first and potentially final win coming at Texas Motor Speedway during the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 5.
The remaining five in order beginning this Sunday are Kansas Speedway, Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 29), Texas Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway (Nov. 12) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19).
So how does Earnhardt Jr.’s success stack up against the others even though his lone win at Texas was that first career Cup triumph in April of 2000? Quite well.
In his last five Texas Motor Speedway starts, he has finished no worse than sixth including a runner-up performance in the April race last year. After missing the 2016 AAA Texas 500 due to a concussion, he returned for April’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on the repaved and reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway and finished fifth.
That finish remains as his season best to date.
In 29 career starts, he has tallied 18 top-10 finishes that is tied with Martinsville for the most among the remaining tracks. His average finish of 13.1 at Texas is the best among the remaining five.
Here is a breakdown of the final five races for Earnhardt Jr. with his best in each category among those highlighted:
Kansas Speedway Starts: 21 Wins: 0 Top 5s: 3 Top 10s: 9 Laps Led: 148 Avg. Finish: 16.2 Most Recent Finish: 20th – 2017
– Has finished 15th or worse in four of the previous five races- Best finish (2nd) came in spring of 2011
Martinsville Speedway Starts:34 Wins: 1 Top 5s:13 Top 10s: 18 (tie) Laps Led: 972 Avg. Finish: 13.6 Most Recent Finish: 34th – 2017
– Won the fall race in 2014 after leading 79 laps- Two finishes of 34th or worse in the past four races
Texas Motor Speedway Starts: 29 Wins: 1 Top 5s: 7 Top 10s: 18 (tie) Laps Led: 448 Avg. Finish: 13.1 Most Recent Finish: 5th – 2017
– Five consecutive finishes among the top six and 10 of the last 12 among the top 10 – In addition to his lone win, he has finished runner-up on three occasions (2003, fall of ’13, fall of ’16)
Phoenix International Raceway Starts: 29 Wins: 3 Top 5s: 9 Top 10s: 14 Laps Led: 569 Avg. Finish: 16.0 Most Recent Finish: 14th – 2017
– His most recent victory of the five remaining tracks came at PIR in the fall of 2015 – Finishes of 43rd (2015-spring) and 14th (2017-spring) are the only blemishes in the previous eight races – Five top-five finishes in the previous eight
Homestead-Miami Speedway Starts: 16 Wins: 0 Top 5s: 1 Top 10s: 2 Laps Led: 121 Avg. Finish: 21.5 Most Recent Finish: 40th – 2015
– Proven to be the most difficult track of the remaining five with just one top-five finish – Last start at Homestead-Miami was November of 2015 – Finished third in 2013, a career-best at the venue
NASCAR HALL OF FAMER ADDED TO RACEDAY U
Texas Motor Speedway’s fan-favorite RaceDay U added another “professor” to its already stout guest lineup. NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison joins NASCAR drivers Austin Dillon and Danica Patrick, along with Fixer Upper star and honorary pace car driver Chip Gaines.
Tickets for RaceDay U are $199 and include hospitality access with complimentary food and Coca-Cola beverages, a pass for the Loud & Proud Pre-Race Show Powered by Texas Corn, grandstand ticket for the AAA Texas 500 and Q&A sessions with the special guests. Norm Hitzges of 1310 The Ticket serves as the host for the event.
SMOKE SHOW SUCCESS
Tony Stewart’s 10th annual Smoke Show Fantasy Camp, held last Wednesday at Texas Motor Speedway, raised more than $80,000 for children in North Texas.
The Smoke Show is one of the premier fantasy camps in the country as campers receive the full race experience, complete with a customized firesuit; personalized locker; pre-race driver introductions; two 10-lap competitive sessions in a Team Texas stock car; Texas-style Victory Lane celebration with cowboy hat and six shooters; and a three-lap, ride-along experience with Stewart as the driver.
The evening included dinner in Victory Lane and a live auction with exclusive Stewart memorabilia. Topping the list of items sold were specially designed helmets by custom painter Tex McDorman, with two sold for an individual price of $5,000 each.
Stewart and the Smoke Show have raised more than $1.7 million for the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.
FANS CAN HIT THE TRACK BEFORE NASCAR DRIVERS
Race fans can gear up for the upcoming AAA Texas 500 race weekend by taking a spin around Texas Motor Speedway at Saturday’s “Laps For Charity” event.
“Laps For Charity,” which gives fans the opportunity to take their personal vehicle around Texas Motor Speedway’s repaved and re-profiled 1.5-mile oval while paced by the speedway’s official Chevrolet SS pace car, has remained one of Speedway Children’s Charities’ most popular fundraisers.
The event, which will run from 5-10 p.m. CT, offers fans a chance to take their personal vehicle or motorcycle around Texas Motor Speedway for three laps and culminate the experience with a trip to Sunoco Victory Lane for a commemorative individual photo. The three-lap experience and photo is $40 with advance purchase or $50 the day of the event. Additional three-lap experiences may be purchased for a discounted rate of $30. A limited number of reservations are available for car clubs.
For more information, please visit www.scctexas.org or call Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas at (817) 215-8421.
NASCAR PERSONALITIES TAKE CRACK AT DIFFERENT FORM OF DRIVING
NASCAR on FOX personality and two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip and NBC Sports announcer Rick Allen will headline Speedway Children’s Charities inaugural Drive for Charity TopGolf Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 6:30 p.m. in Fort Worth. Guests will enjoy an evening at Fort Worth’s new TopGolf complex and participate in a tournament that will include other NASCAR celebrities. Team sponsorships start at $1,500. For more information on the Drive for Charity TopGolf Tournament, visit www.scctexas.org or call (817) 215-8421.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Watch Tony Stewart share his thoughts on Danica Patrick’s future.
THRILLING RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600 DELIVERS MOST INDYCAR LEAD CHANGES IN SPEEDWAY HISTORY SINCE 2001 AND THIRD MOST ALL TIME
FORT WORTH, Texas (June 12, 2017) – Saturday night’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway brought back memories of the frenetic, frenzied style of Indy-car racing that produced some of the most thrilling flag-to-flag races and finishes in the history of the Verizon IndyCar Series.
The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 produced 23 lead changes among seven drivers, which were the most lead changes since a track-record 32 in the fall race of 2001. The 23 lead changes now ranks third all-time among the 29 Verizon IndyCar Series races held on the 1.5-mile oval, trailing only that 2001 race and 31 in the summer of 2000.
The lead changes also were the second most through nine races the Verizon IndyCar Series season with the Indy 500 taking the top spot with 35 among 15 drivers.
Before Will Power took the checkered flag under caution for the victory, the race was shaping up to challenge last year’s record for the closest finish in track history of 0.0090 of a second when Graham Rahal edged James Hinchcliffe and possibly the closest in Indy-car history.
In the closing laps of the 248-lap event, Power and Scott Dixon were separated by 0.0010 of a second according to timing and scoring when they crossed the start/finish line on what would turn out to be the final lap of green-flag racing at Lap 243. Reigning Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato make a bold move as soon as the leaders passed the start/finish line. He dove low and caught his left front wheel in the infield grass that resulted in a multi-car accident that collected Dixon, Max Chilton and Conor Daly. The final five laps were run under caution rather than a potential red-flag condition for clean-up and a final restart to settle the race under green.
“That was crazy,” Daly said afterward. “I think the biggest thing tonight is that I learned a lot. That was the first time ever on an oval that I raced side-by-side or that close to anyone. (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) we’re never like that and last year (at Texas) I didn’t make it through much of the race.”
“All the cars were battling for position and constantly moving,” Sato added. “It was an exciting race for sure, and I am disappointed it ended the way it did.”
Power earned the 31st win of his career – and second at Texas – while Tony Kanaan of Chip Ganassi Racing was second and Power’s Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud was third.
It marked the first Indy-car race on Texas Motor Speedway’s repaved and re-profiled layout, which included reducing the banking in Turns 1 & 2 from 24 to 20 degrees and expanding the racing surface from 60 to 80 feet in that track section. There was some initial concern by drivers that there would only be one racing groove, but the field quickly showed that there was two to provide plenty of dramatic side-by-side racing and passes for the lead.
“It was a lot of fun,” Pagenaud said. “It got a little crazy at the end. I tell you, it is just incredible how close we can race against each other. Good fun, good night, awesome working with Will. That is Team Penske, we all work together, you guys don’t believe us, but we do and we showed it tonight.”
“It was just very intense from the first to the last lap,” Kanaan said.
POWER OF PARITY:Will Power’s win for Team Penske in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 continued a recent trend at Texas Motor Speedway of the powerhouse teams and smaller organizations alternating visits to Victory Lane. The trend began in 2012 when Justin Wilson was victorious for Dale Coyne Racing. The following year it was Team Penske with Helio Castroneves collecting his track-record fourth win. In 2014, Ed Carpenter won for his own organization and Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon earned the win the following season. Last year, it was Graham Rahal for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
CAREER DAY:Tony Kanaan’s second-place finish in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 moved him into a tie for career top-five finishes and top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway. In 18 starts, Kanaan (left, No. 10 car) now has 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10 efforts to move him into a tie for the lead in both categories with Helio Castroneves. Saturday night’s finish was Kanaan’s fourth podium in his last five starts at Texas Motor Speedway. His third place finish now gives him an average finish of 5.16 which is now the best in track history ahead of Ryan Briscoe’s 5.22.
POWER SURGE: Rainguard Water Sealers 600 race winner Will Power’s race-high 180 laps led vaulted him from eighth to third in most career laps led at Texas Motor Speedway. Power began the night with 252 laps led in nine career starts and then proceeded to pass Al Unser Jr. (275), Ryan Briscoe (282), Tony Kanaan (364), Scott Dixon (365) and Thomas Scheckter (371). He finished with 432 career laps led for sole possession of third. Helio Castroneves is the all-time career leader at 506 while Sam Hornish Jr. is second with 446. Interestingly, 325 of Power’s laps led came in his two wins, the other being 145 in the second twin race in 2011.
POWER ON: Rainguard Water Sealers 600 winner Will Power moved himself into some select company by winning for the second time at Texas Motor Speedway. Power is now only the fifth driver to win multiple races at the famed 1.5-mile track. Helio Castroneves is the leader with four, Sam Hornish Jr. has three and a trio of Scott’s – Dixon, Goodyear and Sharp – also have two.
IT’S WHERE YOU FINISH:Will Power had always been know as the top starter at Texas in his career. He entered this past weekend No. 1 in track history in starting average at 3.55 in nine previous starts. He had also won the pole for the race three consecutive years from 2013-15. However, in his win over the weekend, he started from the worst position of his career at Texas – ninth – as he went on the win for the second time.
NO POLE IN VICTORY LANE:Will Power’s victory made it eight consecutive races at Texas in which the pole winner did not win at Texas. The last driver to do so was Ryan Briscoe in 2010. Prior to this current stretch, the pole winner had won six of 13 races from 2001-2010.
STANDINGS UPDATE:Will Power became the first driver this season to win on two different tracks as he won at the IndyCar Grand Prix last month). It was the 31st victory of his career, and he moved up from eighth in the championship to fifth (283 points) behind leaders Scott Dixon (325), Simon Pagenaud (313), Takuma Sato (312) and Helio Castroneves (305).
RACE RECORDS: A number of TMS records for IndyCar racing were broken in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600. Winner Will Power set a record for laps led by the winner with 180, smashing the old mark of 159 held by Sam Hornish, Jr. in 2007. The race was under caution nine times breaking the old mark of eight which was set three previous times – 1997, fall of 1998 and 2000). There were nine cars running at the finish which broke the old mark of 10 set in the fall of 2001.
A LOOK BACK AT THE RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600:
Courtesy IndyCar Productions
TEAM PENSKE IS TOPS AT TMS: Team Penske, one of the most dominant teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series, has a stranglehold on the competition when it comes to racing at Texas Motor Speedway. The organization, led by legendary car owner Roger Penske, has proven to be the king of the Lone Star State. This trend continued over the weekend after the victory by Will Power in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600.
9 – Number of wins at Texas Motor Speedway – the most among Verizon IndyCar Series teams. Wins include four from veteran Helio Castroneves (2004-F, ’06, ’09, ’13), now two from Will Power (2011-Twin 2, 2017) and one a piece from Sam Hornish Jr. (2007), Ryan Briscoe (2010) and Gil de Ferran (2003-F).
13 – Number of races all Team Penske entries have finishes in the top 10. Team Penske has fielded two or more entries in 20 races since 2002.
25 – Top-five finishes finish accumulated by nine Team Penske drivers that have competed at Texas Motor Speedway.
1,266 – Laps led by Team Penske drivers out of a possible 4,188. That translates into Team Penske drivers leading 30 percent of the time during that span.
CLOSE TO HOME: Both winners this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway have a close connection to the track.
Rainguard Water Sealers winner Will Power’s wife, Liz, is a native of Plano, Texas and Power has spent many holidays in the Lone Star State since the two have been together.
“Over the moon to win here,” he said. “It’s my second home and Liz is from here, so we spend a lot of time down here, so just an amazing feeling.”
Meanwhile, winstaronlinegaming.com 400 champion Christopher Bell is from Norman, Okla. just about 150 miles north of the track. As a youngster Bell would drive by the track on his way to dirt track races and dream about winning at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Texas is my home NASCAR track,” the 22-year-old said. “It’s awesome to be able to win here. My mom was able to come today. This has always been one of my favorite tracks.”
SCORE ANOTHER FOR BUSCH: Kyle Busch has shown a knack for winning as both a driver and car owner at Texas Motor Speedway. Christopher Bell’s victory in Friday’s winstaronlinegaming.com 400 was a win for Busch, who is the car owner of the No. 4 JBL Toyota. With the win, Busch moves to the second-winningest truck series car owner at Texas Motor Speedway with five. He is behind former car owner Stephen Germain, who scored seven truck series victories at the 1.5-mile speedway with driver Todd Bodine.
Busch has won three truck series races in his career as owner (2009-fall, ’10-fall, ’14-fall), while Erik Jones picked up the fourth of five victories for KBM in 2015-fall.
NOTEBOOK: The winstaronlinegaming.com 400 featured 10 cautions, tying the record for most in a race at Texas Motor Speedway. The last time a race featured 10 cautions was in the summer of 2011 during the WinStar World Casino 400…Matt Crafton continued his impressive streak of top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway following his ninth-place finish in the winstaronlinegaming.com 400. Crafton has now finished in the top 10 in his last 12 appearances at TMS.
ROOKIES SHINE: Rookie drivers Chase Briscoe and Grant Enfinger finished second and third, respectively, in the winstaronlinegaming.com 400. It was just the third time two rookie drivers have finished in the top 3. The last time two rookies finished in the top 3 was in 2013 during the WinStar World Casino 400, when Jeb Burton earned his first truck series victory and German Quiroga finished third.
The feat was originally set during the speedway’s inaugural truck series race in 1997 when three rookie drivers swept the top three spots. Kenny Irwin Jr. secured the win and was followed by Boris Said and Rick Crawford.
GRADUATE SUCCESS: Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Noah Gragson earned his first career truck series pole during Star-Telegram Qualifying Day. Gragson, who received his high school diploma during a special graduation ceremony held during pre-race driver introductions, set a new qualifying record with a speed of 185.134 miles per hour. He shattered the mark previously held by Clint Bowyer at 184.464 miles per hour. Ironically, the last time a rookie driver started on the pole in a truck series race at TMS was in the summer of 2015 with Erik Jones, who started the speedway’s graduation ceremony trend.
STADIUM SUPER TRUCKS
The Speed Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks Series made its debut at Texas Motor Speedway with two races on Saturday before and after the Rainguard Water Sealers 600.
Former IndyCar driver PJ Jones won the first race with series founder Robby Gordon in second and Gavin Harlien in third. The second race was won by Sheldon Creed with Harlien in second and Matt Brabham finishing in third.
By virtue of his second and third place finishes, Harlien was declared the overall champion of the series stop at Texas.
“I was consistent all weekend,” said Harlien, who earned his second consecutive overall weekend championship. “I didn’t get a race win, but I stayed at the front in both of them and had a good weekend.
“This was a different track than I had ever raced on before,” the Austin, Texas-born 17-year-old added. “It was one of the biggest gap jumps that SST has ever had and the rest of the track was tight and technical. I hope SST continues to come here so I can come back and win another one of these cowboy hats.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series makes its annual stop this season at Texas Motor Speedway with Saturday’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 (7:30 p.m. CT, TV: NBC Sports Network, Radio: INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius XM Channel 214 and 95.9 FM The Ranch locally).
Here are “5 Things You Need To Know” about the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 heading into this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
NEW-LOOK TEXAS: NASCAR had their first crack at recently repaved and re-profiled Texas Motor Speedway in April and now it’s time to see what the results will be with the Verizon IndyCar Series on the track. Teams and drivers were here a few days following the NASCAR race in April for a test (notes below) and came away impressed. In addition to a full repave including pit lane, the off-season project included reducing the banking from 24 to 20 degrees and expanding the racing surface from 60 to 80 feet in Turns 1 & 2. Turns 3 & 4 remain the same at 24-degree banking and 60 feet of racing surface.
TOUGH TO REPEAT: The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 will be the 29th Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. Graham Rahal is the defending champion and if he were to win this year it would mark the first time a driver has won consecutive INDYCAR races at the venue. Scott Sharp won the first of two INDYCAR races at TMS in 2000 and 2001, but did not win the second race of 2000 that was held in the fall.
GREAT SCOTT:Helio Castroneves holds the all-time Verizon IndyCar Series victory mark at Texas Motor Speedway with four, including his most recent in 2013. Sam Hornish Jr. is next on that list with three. There are three drivers that have won twice at TMS and all of their first names are “Scott” as in Dixon, Goodyear and Sharp. However, only Dixon is an active driver in the series and looking to move up on the TMS victory list. Dixon’s wins came in 2008 and ’15.
POWER PLAY: Look for Team Penske’s Will Power to be at the front of the grid for Saturday night’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600. Power is the the top VICS driver for average starting position at 3.55. Buoying that average was Power winning the pole three consecutive years from 2013-15. He has started no worse than eighth in his nine career races at TMS.
SEALING GOOD: Rainguard Water Sealers signed a three-year agreement with Texas Motor Speedway in December to become the entitlement sponsor of the annual Verizon IndyCar Series race held at the world-renowned motorsports facility. The multi-year deal for “America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Race,” begins this weekend. The agreement is the first entitlement sponsorship of any kind for the company that is based is Newport Beach, Calif. Rainguard was founded in 1969 as a manufacturer of architectural grade coatings used in the construction industry. In 2010, it developed a full line of specialty sealer products for the home improvement marketplace. The company specializes in premium sealers, interior and exterior sealers, water protection and exterior stains.
WEEKEND INFIELD PARKING NOTICE
Because of footprints needed for the Stadium SUPER Trucks and Texas Off-Road Ruckus events, infield parking will be extremely limited for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 race weekend. Infield parking spots will fill quickly and once full you will be directed to the bus lot, outside of the South Tunnel adjacent to Highway 114. A tram service will transport media from the lot to the media center. For those with reserved parking, you will be able to access the infield even when it is full. Below are the hours of the tram service.
ON THE FAST TRACK: Fourteen Verizon IndyCar drivers representing eight organizations got an early preview of the repaved and re-profiled 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval on April 12 during a one-day open test session.
The drivers were on hand to gather data and information on the new track surface as well as the re-profiling of Turns 1 & 2, where the banking was reduced from 24 to 20 degrees and the racing surface expanded from 60 to 80 feet.
The group completed an unofficial total of 2,240 laps in the test with defending series champion Simon Pagenaud leading all drivers with 214 laps. The teams found out that the track will be ultra-fast on the new surface and potentially have four- or five-wide racing in Turns 1 and 2.
Scott Dixon recorded the fastest laps in both sessions of the roughly 5½-hour test. He ran a top lap in Session 1 of 219.362 miles per hour and later topped that in the afternoon with a lap of 220.432 mph. Both laps easily surpassed last year’s pole-winning speed of 217.137 miles per hour at Texas by Carlos Munoz.
“I’m very happy that INDYCAR decided to come over here and have this opportunity to try different aerodynamics so that we can simulate some of the races,” Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves said during the test. “And when we go back here for the actual race, we’ll not only have a show for the drivers but especially the fans and everyone else.”
Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole position for April’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 the week prior to the test with a lap of 198.405 miles per hour. The 14 drivers that turned laps in the second session topped Harvick’s winning pole speed by at least 10 miles per hour with the top lap by Dixon (220.432 mph) being more than 22 miles per hour faster.
DOMINANT: Team Penske, one of the most dominant teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series, has a stranglehold on the competition when it comes to racing at Texas Motor Speedway. The organization, led by legendary car owner Roger Penske, has proven to be the king of the Lone Star State.
Here’s a look at how well the organization has fared over the years at Texas Motor Speedway:
6 – Pole positions, which includes three consecutive from Will Power (above) from 2013 – 15.
6.5 – Average finish for Team Penske drivers.
8 – Wins, the most among Verizon IndyCar Series teams. The victories consist of four from Helio Castroneves (2004 fall race, ’06, ’09, ’13) and one each from Sam Hornish Jr. (2007), Ryan Briscoe (2010), Gil de Ferran (2003 fall) and Will Power (2011-Twin 2).
11 – Races all Team Penske entries have finishes in the top 10. Team Penske has fielded two or more entries in 19 races since 2002.
23 – Top-five finishes accumulated by eight Team Penske drivers that have competed at Texas Motor Speedway.
1,080 – Laps led by Team Penske drivers out of a possible 3,940. That translates into Team Penske drivers leading 27 percent of the time during that span.
PARITY REIGNS AT TEXAS: From 2006 to 2011, Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing dominated at Texas Motor Speedway by one or the other winning every Verizon IndyCar Series race at the venue. Penske won five races while Ganassi won two in that span that included a doubleheader race in 2011.
Both teams have won since at Texas but no longer dominant. In fact, five different teams have won since 2012 and the winners has annually alternated from smaller organizations to the powerhouses.
The trend began in 2012 with Justin Wilson capturing a victory for Dale Coyne Racing. Team Penske earned its series-best eighth career win at Texas with Helio Castroneves in 2013 and Ed Carpenter followed in 2014 with a win for his own team. Chip Ganassi got on the board in 2015 with Scott Dixon and then Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing won the closest race in speedway history last season.
If that trend continues in Saturday night’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600, look for a return of a powerhouse organization to Victory Lane.
PLENTY OF MILK, BUT NO COWBOY HATS: Andretti Autosport recently has been a dominant force in the Indy 500 — winning three of the last four including this year’s running with Takuma Sato — but the organization has struggled to find Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway.
Andretti Autosport has just one win at Texas, that coming in the 2004 Bombardier Learjet 500k with Tony Kanaan under the former Andretti/Green banner. The team’s current stable of drivers — Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Alexander Rossi and Sato — don’t have a career win at Texas but have had some success.
Hunter-Reay has the best career finish among the group with a runner-up finish in 2013, but has not recorded a top-10 at Texas since that performance. Andretti has a best finish of third in 2010 and four top-five efforts in 12 career starts. Sato has a fifth-place finish in the first race of the 2011 doubleheader while he was with KV Racing, but that is his only top-10 effort in eight career starts. Rossi has made only one start, that coming in last year’s race when he finished 11th.
GOING FOR THREE IN A ROW: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal won last year’s race in dramatic fashion to earn his first victory at Texas Motor Speedway. He made a last-lap pass of leader James Hinchcliffe to win by 0.0080 of a second, the closest race in Texas Motor Speedway history and the fifth closest in Indy-car history.
This weekend he comes into the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 as the hottest driver in the series after winning both races in Detroit last weekend. The victories vaulted him to sixth in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings, just eight points behind fifth-place JosefNewgarden of Team Penske. He arrives at Texas looking to defend his title and also win his third consecutive race. The last VICS driver to win three consecutive races was Simon Pagenaud, who did so last year en route to the series championship.
In case you were wondering, the Indy-car record for consecutive wins is seven, held by the legend A.J. Foyt who did so in 1964. Including Foyt’s record mark, there have only been nine drivers to win four or more consecutive races in the history of the sport. Winning three consecutive races has happened 34 times in series history.
PUMPING IRON:Scott Dixon recently moved into second place on the Indy-car “Ironman” consecutive starts list surpassing Jimmy Vasser, who started 211 consecutive races from 1993-2006.
Dixon, broke the tie with Vasser at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, has upped his total to 215 after competing in the doubleheader at Detroit’s Belle Isle after his crash at the Indianapolis 500 just a few days before.
“It’s very cool to have the longevity,” Dixon said. “The sport has changed so much through the years. You only get this kind of longevity if you’re posting the results, so it’s pretty cool.”
Now firmly entrenched in second place, Dixon has his sights set to surpass the leader of this list who happens to be his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Tony Kanaan.
Kanaan holds the all-time record with 273 consecutive starts ,which began in 2001.
“Obviously, I’m going to need TK to stop racing here quickly to maybe have a shot at the most all-time,” Dixon said.
Kanaan, however, doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.
“For me, it’s a cool stat,” Kanaan said. “Every race weekend we start a race, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, one more. Just keep making (it) harder for people to beat you.’”
VAUTIER TO REPLACE BOURDAIS AT TEXAS: With former Formula One driver Esteban Gutierrez not cleared to compete on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval for Saturday night’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600, Dale Coyne Racing has named Tristan Vautier as a one-race replacement for the injured Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 18 entry.
Vautier, the 2012 Indy Lights series champion, is quite familiar with Dale Coyne Racing, having made 11 of his 30 career Verizon IndyCar Series starts with the organization. He will team with rookie Ed Jones at Texas while Bourdais continues to recuperate from injuries sustained May 20 from an Indy 500 qualifying accident.
Vautier’s tenure with Dale Coyne Racing came in 2015 when competed in the final 11 races of the season and recorded a top finish of fourth in the second race of the Belle Isle Park weekend in Detroit.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back in an Indy car and race for Dale again,” said Vautier, a 27-year-old Frenchman. “But before talking about me stepping in, let’s all keep sending our thoughts to Seb for a quick recovery. I was happy to see him at the track at Indy on race day. I have big shoes to fill!
“That being said, I really can’t wait to be in the car on Friday and see how it feels that first lap around. It’s not the easiest place to step back in and practice is going to be very limited, but the team has been competitive everywhere and I trust we’ll be good.”
Vautier will be the third driver to substitute for Bourdais in as many weeks. The first was Australian James Davison, who drove to a 20th-place finish in the Indy 500 on May 28. Gutierrez, the 25-year-old Mexican who drove for Haas F1, made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut at last weekend’s Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader and finished of 19th and 14th, respectively.
“We chose Tristan to fill the (No.) 18 seat at Texas because of his previous experience at Texas Motor Speedway,” Coyne said. “We think he can help the team and Ed, who has never raced or even tested there. Tristan has remained close with the team and he’s always done a good job for us. I expect much of the same going into this race weekend.”
Vautier has made two starts at Texas Motor Speedway, one in 2013 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and another in 2015 with Coyne. In 2013, he started 24th and finished 18th. In 2015, he started 16th and finished 20th.
He has been driving this season for SunEnergy1 Racing in GTD class of the IMSA SportsCar Championship.
Vautier will make his first appearance on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval at 10 a.m. CT Friday during the opening 75-minute practice.
CHAVES RETURNS TO TEXAS FOR HARDING RACING: After his ninth-place finish at the Indianapolis 500, Gabby Chaves will be back behind the wheel of Harding Racing’s No. 88 Chevrolet this weekend.
“We went into Indy with the mentality that if we got out there clean, we would try to run Texas and Pocono,” Team manager and competition director Larry Curry said. “And we definitely got out of there clean.
“We were just all elated that we had the run that we had. For a new team, you figure we started putting these cars together in January. Built two brand-new cars, went down and did a little shakedown test in Texas and then came to Indy and came home with a ninth-place finish.”
The plan for Harding Racing going forward, according to Curry, is to join the series full-time beginning next season with Chaves behind the wheel. Chaves is currently under a two-year contract agreement with Harding Racing.
Chaves has 24 Verizon IndyCar Series career starts, with his only full-time season in 2015 when he competed for BHA with Curb-Agajanian and was named rookie of the year. He has two career starts at Texas and finished a career-best 10th in 2015.
HIGH SCHOOL REUNION:Yogi Ferrell of the Dallas Mavericks will be at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday as a guest of Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ed Carpenter. It might seem odd that a Butler fan (Carpenter) would invite a former Indiana Hoosier basketball player to come out to the track, but they are both graduates of Park Tudor High School in Indianapolis. Ferrell will be at Carpenter’s garage at 12:15 p.m. and media are invited to attend.
Ferrell enjoyed a solid first season with the Mavericks in 2016-17 as he joined the team at mid-season. He averaged a career-high 11.3 points and 4.3 assists per game as he took over the starting point guard duties for the team. Carpenter is the owner of his own race team where he drives the oval races. He won at Texas in 2014.
CONOR DALY TO VISIT COOK CHILDREN’S: Verizon IndyCar Series driver and Racing For Kids representative Conor Daly will visit youngsters at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday leading up to the Rainguard Water Sealers 600. Daly will visit children in the Child Life Zone and hand out Racing For Kids caps and coloring books, sign autographs, pose for photos and talk about his passion for racing. Cook Children’s Medical Center is located at 801 Seventh Avenue in Fort Worth.
Racing For Kids is a national charity that uses the popularity of motorsports to focus public awareness and funding on the health care needs of children. Founded in 1989, Racing For Kids has visited more than 30,000 children in more than 600 children’s hospitals around the world. It has raised more than $6.5 million for the hospitals visited and other children’s health institutions.
NO LIMITS ONLINE AUCTION: Join the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities for an incredible online auction that includes Verizon IndyCar Series and NASCAR Memorabilia plus one-of-a-kind experiences at Texas Motor Speedway.
The online auction is currently underway and bidding goes through 10 p.m. Friday. The auction site is at http://speedwaytx17.auction-bid.org or you can text SPEEDWAYTX17 to 24700 to bid on an item.
The following are just some of the unique items that are available for auction.
· Justin Wilson Autographed Green Flag (2015)
· Will Power & Dario Franchitti Autographed Green Flag
· Firestone 600 (2016) Sign Autographed by Graham Rahal
· Several autographed hats
· Fuzzy’s Vodka IndyCar Piece
· Champagne Toast Tickets
· Speedway Club Table for a Day for 2
· Two-Seater Indy-car Ride
· Victory Lane Experience
· Wave The Green Flag for NCWTS Qualifying
· Ride in the Official Pace Car
· A.J. Foyt Meet & Greet
RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600 NOTEBOOK
• The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 will be the 29th Indy car event conducted at Texas Motor Speedway since the track opened in 1997. TMS hosted two races a year from 1998-2004 and featured a doubleheader event in 2011.
• Six drivers have won the Texas race from the pole: Sam Hornish Jr. (2001 fall race), Gil de Ferran (2003 fall), Helio Castroneves (2004 fall), Tomas Scheckter (2005), Scott Dixon (2008) and Ryan Briscoe (2010).
• Drivers that have won at Texas have gone on to win the Verizon IndyCar Series championship six times: Sam Hornish Jr. (fall races of 2001 and ’02), Tony Kanaan (June race of 2004), Scott Dixon (2008, ’15) and Dario Franchitti (2011 Race 1 of doubleheader).
• Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 274th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy-car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Teammate Scott Dixon has made 215 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy-car racing.
• Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 336th career Indy-car start, which ranks fourth on the all-time list. Tony Kanaan will attempt to make his 335th Indy-car start, which is fifth all-time. Both are competing in their 20th season of Indy-car racing in 2017.
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet, 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion): “Texas is one of my favorite ovals. It’s been repaved, so it’s going to be quite a different race this year. The tire degradation has changed so it’s a bit of an unknown going into it, but it’s going to be interesting. I’ve been very comfortable on ovals this year, so I’m looking forward to racing there in the No. 1 DXC Technology Chevrolet. It’s a great event with a great marketplace for INDYCAR as well. I’m looking forward to another night race which is always fun for the fans.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack / Bobby Rahal Automotive Honda, 2016 Rainguard Water Sealers 600 winner): “It’s great to head to Texas not only as defending race winner, but also after a great weekend in Detroit. Those wins put us back in the championship fight, and we want to continue the momentum, obviously. I’m excited about Texas. We had a good test there in April, so hopefully we can get another victory there and keep this string going. I think it’s going to be a crazy race. Honda has been working hard and it shows. We hope to put them in victory lane again.” (About last year’s win:) “It was a good day, obviously, and a very, very competitive race. It was also challenging. As much as went for us, went against us, and there were a lot of things we had to battle through, but overall, it was a very special day. To get a win and cap what was somewhat of a difficult season off that way felt great. Those are some special memories for me. My grandmother passed away that day, so there was a lot going through my mind afterward. I didn’t know it at the time. Texas Motor Speedway is an exciting place. I’m looking forward to going back and hopefully getting another victory.” (About his TMS bobblehead:) “I’m pretty geeked. It’s pretty cool. I’m thankful to (TMS president) Eddie (Gossage), Ziz (TMS vice president of communications Mike Zizzo) and everybody at TMS for making it happen for me. It’s a pretty cool opportunity. I will enjoy it while I can and certainly get a lot of ‘you know what’ from my wife and family but I’m going to enjoy it, that’s for sure.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “It is always great to go back to Texas. I can’t wait to see what type of race we will put on with the new layout. I am sure that it won’t disappoint. It will be an important race for the team to regain some momentum and get back on top.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “Detroit was a bittersweet weekend for us with the podium on Saturday and the DNF on Sunday. We’re heading back to Texas, where we were very quick last year. It was definitely tough to lose the race by such a small margin after leading so many laps, but that’s the nature of 1.5-mile oval racing. Obviously, the track has been completely repaved and re-profiled in Turns 1 and 2, so really everything goes out the window from last year, and we’ve got to start from scratch just like everybody else. Hopefully we can put our heads down and get the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car in a position to be fighting for the victory again.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Texas can be a really fun event. It’s our second night race of the season, and it’s a fun event for fans. We had a pretty good car at Indianapolis but after we were wrecked, our race ended early. It was really disappointing, but we learned a lot that we’ll apply to the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet this weekend, and we know we’re bringing a really strong car the whole team can’t wait to race.”