RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600 WEEKEND RECAP

 

AUTO: JUN 10 IndyCar - Rainguard Water Sealers 600

RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600

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.

Rainguard Water Sealers 600 - PracticeCAREER 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.

Verizon IndyCar Series Rainguard Water Sealers 600POWER 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.

TWITTERVERSE:

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PowerBellCLOSE 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.”

winstaronlinegaming.com 400 

winstaronlinegaming.com 400SCORE 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.

winstaronlinegaming.com 400GRADUATE 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

SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks Championship Race - PracticeThe 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.”

RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600 ADVANCE

Firestone 600 Restart Your EnginesThe 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Thursday: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Friday: 5:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. (approximately)
Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. (approximately)

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.

04-12-Carpenter-Castroneves-On-Course-TEXOpenTestThe 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.

Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear at Belle Isle ParkDOMINANT: 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.

IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 500Both 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-ReayMarco AndrettiAlexander 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.

Verizon IndyCar Firestone 600This 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 Josef Newgarden 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.

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Tony Kanaan (with back to camera) hugs teammate Scott Dixon following Dixon’s win at Texas in 2015. The Chip Ganassi Racing teammates sit 1-2 on the Ironman list.

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.

121210174428-tristan-vautier-1-single-image-cutVautier, 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.

AUTO: MAY 28 IndyCar - Indianapolis 500CHAVES 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 Yogiplayer 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.

TEXAS TALK 

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.”

winstaronlinegaming.com 400 AND STADIUM SUPER TRUCKS ADVANCE

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 in 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.

Thursday: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Friday: 5:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. (approximately)
Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. (approximately)

winstaronlinegaming.com 400 ADVANCE

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Bar Harbor 200 presented by Sea Watch InternationalON TOP AGAIN: Reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter registered his first win of the season last week at Dover. The victory at Dover increased his series points lead over Oklahoma City native Christopher Bell to 52 points heading into Friday night’s winstaronlinegaming.com 400 (7 p.m. CT, TV: FOX Sports 1, Radio: MRN, 95.9 The Ranch locally).

Sauter’s points lead has been increased during the year with three stage wins, the most of any qualifying driver in the series this season. He also has the most playoff points with eight. Last week’s victory ended a streak of three consecutive runner-up finishes for the Wisconsin native.

Sauter always has run well at Texas Motor Speedway, including his most recent appearance in November when he won the Striping Technology 350 en route to the series crown. In 17 career starts, he has three wins along with 13 top-10 finishes, including eight of those among the top five.

LOOKING TO DOUBLE DOWN: Johnny Sauter will be looking to be just third driver in Texas Motor Speedway history to follow up a fall NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win with a victory in the following summer event. Todd Bodine (2005-06) and Brendan Gaughan (2002-03) are the only drivers to have accomplished this “double”.

SAVED BY THE BELL: It’s hard to believe that Christopher Bell, at just 22 years old, is at times is the veteran on the Kyle Busch Motorsports roster. The roster includes Bell’s full-time teammate, 18-year-old Noah Gragson, as well as two partial-season entrants, 16-year-old Harrison Burton and 22-year-old Myatt Snider.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Bar Harbor 200 presented by Sea Watch International - PracticeBell, currently second in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, now find himself  as a driver that “younger” drivers are looking to for advice.

“Times have changed, that’s for sure,” Bell said. “When I made my first start in the Truck Series, I was a little bit of an older rookie because I didn’t make my first start until I was 20. Now two years later, I’m sometimes the veteran of the KBM group. The younger guys on our team are super talented and I expect them to be running up front right alongside me every time they race.”

Bell has made three career NCWTS starts at Texas Motor Speedway with a best finish of eighth in the fall race of 2015. In his most recent appearance in November,  he finished 11th in the Striping Technology 350.

NO HORSING AROUND: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Timothy Peters will return to action at the winstaronlinegaming.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. Peters missed last week’s race at Dover after Red Horse Racing abruptly shut its doors on May 22.

He will pilot the No. 99 Chevrolet for MDM Racing and will reunite with former Red Horse Racing crew chief Shane Huffman. Despite missing last week’s race, Peters still sits ninth in the truck series standings and in contention to qualify for the playoffs.

COMPETITIVE ROOKIE CLASS LED BY GRALA: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series features a competitive rookie class that is highlighted by the impressive early-season performance of 18-year-old Kaz Grala. Grala has three top-10 finishes in the first six races of the season, including a victory in his first career start that came in the season-opening race at Daytona.

645312374Grala (right), who will enroll at Georgia Tech next year, already has qualified for the playoffs with his win and is looking to stand atop the stout rookie class that includes Noah Gragson; Chase Briscoe; Grant Enfinger; Cody Coughlin; Wendell Chavous; Austin Cindric; Stewart Friesen and Justin Haley.

Grala is set to study engineering while at Georgia Tech and this weekend he will share his knowledge with elementary and high school students in Dallas/Fort Worth. He will join members of the Byron Nelson High School Solar Car Team that are in the midst of completing its car for  July’s annual Solar Car Challenge. Grala will meet with students at the team’s hanger location (5925 Janet Ct., Westlake 76262) beginning at 9 am.

Following his visit with the Byron Nelson team, he will visit with young, aspiring engineers attending the Northwest ISD Techno Camp at Pike Middle School (2200 Justin Drive, Justin 76247) beginning at 10:30 am. Grala will visit with the students and take part in robotics lessons the students are enjoying this summer.

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 18-year-old rookie Noah Gragson recently earned his high school diploma, but didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the pomp and circumstance of that special moment.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Bar Harbor 200 presented by Sea Watch International - PracticeDue to his racing schedule, he did not attend a traditional high school in his hometown of Las Vegas but took online courses at the K12 International Academy. Texas Motor Speedway, however, has become a second home to teenage NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers seeking a graduation ceremony and Gragson will get that honor prior to Friday night’s winstaronlinegaming.com 400.

During pre-race activities at 6:35 p.m. CT, Gragson will walk the stage in cap and gown to “Pomp & Circumstance” and receive his on-line diploma from Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage, who will be wearing a faculty cap and gown. Several of Gragson’s family members will be on hand for the occasion, including his parents Scott and Jill.

“Having my graduation walk at Texas is going to be cool,” Gragson said. “A lot of my family is coming in for it, including my parents, grandparents and my sister (Addison) who goes to college in Texas (SMU). She’s in a sorority, so I’m trying to convince her to bring all of her sorority sisters so I can have a good-looking cheering section in the stands.”

The high school graduation tradition at Texas Motor Speedway began in 2014 when the speedway held a commencement ceremony for Erik Jones, who graduated from Swartz Creek (Mich.) Community Schools. Last year, Cole Custer bypassed his graduation ceremony at Tesoro High School in Santa Margarita, Calif. to compete in the truck series race at TMS and received a ceremony as well.

“I passed all of my finals, so now I just have to get the diploma and move the tassel from one side of the cap to the other to make my high school graduation official,” Gragson said. “Only a select group of graduates wear their gown over a firesuit and have Eddie Gossage hand them a diploma, so I’m excited.”

Following the ceremony, Gragson will strap into the No. 18 Switch Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports and make his first appearance on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval. Gragson, a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie-of-the-year candidate, arrives to Texas currently 10th in the series points standings.

WELCOME BACK: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series set for Friday evening at Texas Motor Speedway has been re-branded as the winstaronlinegaming.com 400.

WINSTAR350Texas Motor Speedway is renewing a lengthy relationship with the WinStar World Casino & Resort that dates to 2005 and includes serving as the title sponsor of the two annual truck series races. The world-class casino, situated on the Texas-Oklahoma border in Thackerville, Okla., was the title sponsor for both the June and November NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at the speedway that consisted of 14 races in all from 2009-15.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with Texas Motor Speedway and be a part of this great experience that attracts thousands of race fans each year to the DFW Metroplex,” said Jenny Cross, Assistant General Manager of the WinStar World Casino & Resort. “After the race, we hope TMS fans will make the short drive to WinStar World Casino and Resort for the thrilling experience of non-stop gaming and entertainment offered all year round.”

STADIUM SUPER TRUCKS ADVANCE

Larry_Chen_speedhunters_robbie_gordon_stadium_super_trucks-68The SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks will make its Texas Motor Speedway debut this weekend, creating a diverse tripleheader alongside the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the Verizon IndyCar Series. Here are “5 Things You Need To Know” about the SUPER Trucks heading into this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

  1. HISTORY: Starting in 2013 at INDYCAR’s Long Beach Grand Pix, former INDYCAR and NASCAR star Robby Gordon decided to show off his trucks to 175,000 fans in attendance. The action caught the eye of many spectators as drivers were set loose to jump aluminum ramps placed throughout the course that sent trucks flying through the air.
  2. RETURNING TO TEXAS: After competing at the X Games in Austin for almost two years, the Stadium SUPER Trucks will be returning back to Texas this year but this time at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. “When you think of Texas, two things come to mind – trucks and things that are big. Stadium SUPER Trucks gives you both, with the excitement of competitive, door-to-door racing with big air,” Gordon said. Not only do the SUPER Trucks take place in the United States, such as Texas, but the series also competes in other countries such as Canada and Australia.
  3. HIGH FLYING WITH HORSEPOWER: While the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Verizon IndyCar Series will compete on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval while the SUPER Trucks will race on a portion of the track along with a layout in the South Paddock. The SUPER Trucks,  featuring 650- horsepower engines, also will tackle 36-inch tall aluminum ramps as well as a giant dirt jump placed strategically throughout the course for some high-flying action. Reaching up to speeds of 140 miles per hour, the trucks are able to soar hundreds of feet down the course and get up to 20 feet off the ground, creating a thrilling adrenaline rush for both the drivers and fans.
  4. HOW THEY STAND: Paul Morris leads the championship with 291 points while Matt Brabham sits just one point behind in second. Sheldon Creed, who has won a series-high five races this season, is third with 286 points.
  5. SCHEDULE: The series will have practice and qualifying 11:45-12:15 p.m. on Friday and a pair of races on Saturday. The first will be a stage race from 5-5:30 p.m. and then the championship race will begin 30 minutes following the checkered flag for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600.

A DIFFERENT ‘FLYING’ DUTCHMAN: Arie Luyendyk Jr. used to drive Indy cars like his father, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk Sr., but now has transitioned to driving in the Stadium Super Trucks series.

offroad-stadium-super-trucks-detroit-2014-arie-luyendyk-jr“It really is the polar opposite of an Indy car event, but to have both races go on in the same weekend makes it such a great experience for the fans,” Luyendyk Jr. said.

Luyendyk Jr. is part of the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 lineup at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. The Super Truck competitions range from stadium performances to dirt tracks to street races, but all feature jumping large ramps.

“It’s thrilling; we’ll travel almost 200 feet through the air, 12 to 15 feet off the ground,” Luyendyk Jr. said. “I’ve done the jumps now for a few years and it’s become a chance to check your gauges and relax a little when you’re in the air. It’s sort of a funny thing, so I can think about a couple of corners ahead while you’re in the air because you do have some hang time.

“The key to them is to make sure the truck is completely straight when you go over them. If they’re a little bit sideways or you’re sliding as you approach the ramp, that’s when big things can happen.”

Arie Sr., known as the Flying Dutchman, won the Indianapolis 500 twice during his Hall of Fame career. He also won the first-ever Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997.

Now it’s the younger Luyendyk who is flying – over ramps – something he couldn’t see coming as a child hanging around race tracks across the country.

“What I’m driving now, in the Stadium SUPER Trucks, is pure insanity and I love it,” he said. “It’s the type of racing that is just so different and far from what I grew up with that it’s reinvigorated my career because I’ve had to learn how to drive something completely different than an open-wheel car… It’s a crazy spectacle.

“I think my advantage is just my experience level, having raced since I was so young. But most of the guys I race against are in the same boat. We have a lot of very talented drivers in Stadium SUPER Trucks. We have guys from all different types of motorsports and doing this type of racing it’s pretty unique to see their take, and how they approach each race.”

CreedSHOWSTOPPING PERFORMANCE: Two-time Stadium SUPER Trucks Series champion Sheldon Creed heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend with the most wins in the series this year with five after sweeping a pair of races last weekend in Detroit.

Creed, a 19-year-old from California, won nine races in 2015 and and followed with 12 last year en route to his two championships.

He has won five of the 10 races this season, despite missing two races due to commitments in other racing series. Creed also drives in the ARCA Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and K&N Pro Series West, NASCAR XFINITY Series and Trans Am Series.

Creed, nicknamed “The Showstopper”, began racing BMX at age three and won two motocross championships by age 6. He has won at least one championship in some form of motorsports every year since 2008. He was the 2015 X Games gold medalist in the Stadium SUPER Trucks.

ROYAL RACING HERITAGE: It’s not difficult to find out where Stadium SUPER Trucks driver Matt Brabham gets his skill behind the wheel.

He is the grandson of global racing icon and motorsport innovator, three-time World 22431204956_6f0b1055b7_o-960x639Formula One Champion Sir Jack Brabham. His father Geoff and uncle David both won the Le Mans 24-hour race during their career and his dad was a veteran Indy-car racer. The 23-year-old has shown the ability to forge his own wheel tracks and carry on the Brabham name.

Brabham ticked off one of his major career boxes in 2016 when he qualified for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. He finished 22nd with the PIRTEK Team Murray entry.

STADIUM SUPER TRUCKS COURSE: Here is a look at the course the series will be using at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend:

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 2.39.45 PM

TEXAS OFF-ROAD RUCKUS

The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 INDYCAR/NASCAR doubleheader will become an off-road enthusiast haven with thrilling additions to the race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. While the weekend features the NCWTS winstaronlinegaming.com 400 on Friday and Verizon IndyCar Series Rainguard Water Sealers 600 on Saturday, Texas Motor Speedway is expanding the entertainment value with the debut of the Texas Off-Road Ruckus in the speedway infield. The two-day event features racing action from the high-flying SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks as well as an expo and interactive areas for off-road enthusiasts. The events are free to anyone who purchases a race ticket for that coinciding day.  During those two days from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., the Texas Off-Road Ruckus expo and interactive activities for enthusiasts of jeeps, trucks, Utility Terrain Vehicles, buggies and performance will be taking place in the infield inside of Turn 2.

The expo will include:

  • Public obstacle course to run your own off-road vehicle Ride-alongs in a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV)
  • Ride-alongs in a side-by-side (SxS) UTV BF Goodrich Playground where you can drive a BF Goodrich Jeep with an instructor
  • Remote control course to run your own R/C car or use one of the demo rigs available
  • Ultra4 head-to-head races Mega Truck display, exhibition jumps and ride-alongs
  • Truck show that will feature some of the best-built trucks and jeeps Various off-road exhibitors and displays
  • Performance dyno to test your engine’s horsepower, torque and more (additional fee)
  • Monster Truck ride-alongs (additional fee)
  • Various promotion giveaways with no purchase necessary

SPEEDREADS FROM TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

SPEEDING TO READ CHAMPIONSHIP ASSEMBLY

Speeding to Read Assembly at Texas Motor Speedway

RAYZOR, B.B. OWEN ACHIEVE PERFECTION TO BECOME CO-CHAMPIONS OF TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY’S SPEEDING TO READ COMPETITION

  • 2013 Indy 500 Champ Tony Kanaan, Rising NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Star John Hunter Nemechek Serve As Special Guests
  • 10 DFW Elementary Schools, 5,049 Students Combine To Read Nearly 700,000 Books During Year-Long Competition

FORT WORTH, Texas (May 23, 2017) – E.P. Rayzor and B.B. Owen elementary schools punctuated their perfect seasons by being crowned co-champions of Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read competition during Tuesday’s championship assembly in the frontstretch grandstands of the world-renowned motorsports facility.

Before 4,000 students and faculty from seven of the 10 Dallas/Fort Worth schools that competed this year as well as Verizon IndyCar Series driver Tony Kanaan and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver John Hunter Nemechek, Rayzor and B.B. Owen were honored for their entire student bodies meeting the program’s pre-set reading goals through all four turns of the year-long competition.

For Rayzor, it marked the third consecutive school championship in the Speeding To Read competition for the Denton ISD school with 466 students in Lantana. Rayzor, however, needed to be perfect to earn a share of the school title with B.B. Owen. The Lewisville ISD Title 1 school, in just its first year in the program, was up to the challenge and matched Rayzor’s perfection with its student body of 480.

Speeding to Read Assembly at Texas Motor SpeedwayFour of the 10 schools had 91 percent or better of their student bodies reach the reading goals with J.A. Hargrave of the Crowley ISD (94%) and Justin Elementary of the Northwest ISD (91.9%), the Frontstretch Division champions, joining co-Backstretch Division champs Rayzor and B.B. Owen in that elite group. Also competing this year were Cox and Hatfield of the Northwest ISD; Tom C. Gooch and Nathan Adams of the Dallas ISD; Carroll Peak of the Fort Worth ISD; and Brent of the Little Elm ISD.

The group, representing six of the 25 largest school districts in the Metroplex, combined to read 678,887 books during the school year. Since the program began with one pilot school in 2011, 43 schools and more than 23,000 students have combined to read more than 3.6 million books.

0523 NumberKanaan was among the 33 drivers that will make up the starting field for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 that visited 21 cities across North America on Tuesday to promote the 101st running of the Verizon IndyCar Series race. For a finished video package of the Speeding To Read Championship Assembly, please click here.

“When they told me I was coming here for the media day, you know with such a busy month, you have a tendency to always like not wanting to leave Indianapolis,” said Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion. “But here I knew it was going to be a hit, especially when they told me that I’d be dealing with kids. I’ve always loved kids, I have three of my own and a lot of my fans are little guys. A lot of them now are like 30 years old because they were like 10 when they started following me, but a cool event.

“Those (elementary school years) were the best times of my life. You don’t realize that back then, I think we can all share that, and these kids enjoy especially a healthy competition like this, you know? You can see them happy and the classrooms getting extremely excited that they won and at the same time they are learning a lot. They’re becoming smarter; they’re committed to become somebody in life. It’s really cool what you guys (Texas Motor Speedway) do.”

The students were treated to the animated “Turbo” Indy-car movie on the world’s largest TV at the speedway; a six-lap stock-car race from the Team Texas High Performance Driving School; Q&A, champion photos and water pistol shooting contest with Kanaan and Nemechek; and of course the numerous trophies and prize packs for the top readers.

“It was definitely awesome,” Nemechek said. “It was cool to see the kids pumped up about race cars, books and academics. We walked underneath the grandstands and it was hard to hear. You didn’t know if the cars were running or if that was all the kids screaming and stomping on the bleachers. It was definitely awesome to be able to see how pumped up they were and when their schools won and their fellow classmates read the most books, everyone was yelling and screaming. It’s just a great environment to see kids so focused on academics and the NASCAR Acceleration and Speeding to Read programs helped to excite them a little bit.”

Kanaan and Nemechek presented trophies to the top readers throughout the assembly that recognized the following students:

  • Kindergarten Champion – Ellie Evans, Cox, 2,219 books read
  • 1st Grade Champion – Karina Singh, Rayzor, 2,172 books read
  • 2nd Grade Champion – Alysson Delloro, Rayzor, 3,444 books read
  • 3rd Grade Champion – Jayson Washington, Hargrave, 585 books read
  • 4th Grade Champion – Camryn Rose, Brent, 469 books read
  • 5th Grade Champion – Ace Olson, B.B. Owen, 351 books read
  • KG-2nd Grade Classroom Champions – Renee Clark, KG, Rayzor, average of 1,614.5 books per student
  • 3rd-5th Grade Classroom Champions – Charmaine Campbell, 3rd grade, Hargrave, average of 209.9 books per student
  • KG-2nd Grade Most Improved Reader – Savannah Henderson, 1st grade, Cox
  • 3rd-5th Grade Most Improved Reader – Maddy Newton, 3rd grade, B.B. Owen

The Speeding To Read program also partnered with NASCAR’s Acceleration Nation for a STEM book reading contest during the final turn of the overall competition. Nemechek presented the champions with full-sized helmet trophies that consisted of Rayzor (school champion), Rayzor first-grader Evan Elmer (KG-2nd grade), Rayzor fifth-grader Logan Steele (3rd-5th), Rayzor first-grade teacher Aleisha Moore (KG-2nd classroom) and Hargrave fourth-grade teacher Alma Bell (3rd-5th classroom). The schools combined to read more than 11,000 STEM books during that period of the competition.

Kanaan and Nemechek will be returning to Texas Motor Speedway on June 8-10 for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 INDYCAR/NASCAR doubleheader. Kanaan, with 10 top-five finishes in 17 career starts, will be looking for his second career win at Texas when he competes Saturday, June 10, in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 (7 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Network). Nemechek, whose best finish in three career starts was seventh last June, will chase his first top-five finish Friday, June 9, in the Rattlesnake 400 (7 p.m., FOX Sports 1).

Among the various prizes, the individual and classroom champions also received tickets compliments of Texas Motor Speedway to either the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 or Rattlesnake 400 to return and watch Kanaan or Nemechek race in person.

“When I come back here in a few weeks, I’m pretty sure today we made some new fans and those are the people we need because you need the kid to ask the dad to come to the race track and the dad will definitely come over,” Kanaan said. “I’m excited. I love it.”

The Speeding To Read program has built its success on the generosity of its sponsors and partners that include aai Trophies and Awards of Plano, BenQ America Corporation, Domino’s, Lionel Racing, NASCAR, Score A Goal in the Classroom, Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Properties, Team Texas High Performance Driving School, The Speedway Club, Verizon IndyCar Series and Woolley’s Frozen Custard.

For more information on Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program, please visit www.speedingtoread.com. For schools interested in competing in the program in 2017-18, please contact the Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department at pr@texasmotorspeedway.com.

A look back at the 2017 Texas Motor Speedway “Speeding To Read” Championship Assembly

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

2018 NASCAR RACE DATES ANNOUNCED FOR TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

FORT WORTH, Texas (May 23, 2017) – NASCAR announced the 2018 schedules for all three national series, all of which make a pair of stops at Texas Motor Speedway.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR doubleheader race weekend will be held April 7-8 and kick off the racing season for Texas Motor Speedway. The My Bariatric Solutions 300 XFINITY Series race will be held Saturday, April 7, and be followed by the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, April 8. The Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series also will return April 6-7 at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will make its first of two stops Friday, June 8, for the Rattlesnake 400. The NCWTS will be paired once again with the Verizon IndyCar Series, which will compete in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 on Saturday, June 9.

The Texas Motor Speedway season culminates Nov. 2-4 with a NASCAR playoff tripleheader weekend. The Camping World Truck Series Lone Star 350 will be held Friday, Nov. 2, and will be followed by the XFINITY Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 on Saturday, Nov. 3, and the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 4. All three races are part of that respective series’ playoff events that determine the champion.

Additional details, including ticket on-sale dates and race start times, will be announced at a later date.

NASCAR also announced today, sweeping changes to the lineup of tracks that make up the playoffs as part of its 2018 national series schedules. 

Next season, the final regular season race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be contested at iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Round of 16 kicks off at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

NASCAR has added a second short track to the playoff slate, as the historic ¾-mile Richmond International Raceway hosts the second playoff race for the first time, and Charlotte Motor Speedway serves as the first cutoff race, with an intriguing twist – and turn. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will race on the road course oval at Charlotte, marking the first time the playoffs will see a road-course layout among its 10 races. 

With Charlotte moving to the cutoff of the Round of 16, Dover International Speedway now hosts the first race of the Round of 12 – another playoff first.

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600

FORMER TMS CHAMP KANAAN LIKES WHAT TRACK OFFERS FANS: Despite requiring 76 days to complete the race as a result of persistent rain, last year’s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway left race fans and drivers anticipating its return to the Lone Star State. 

Texas Motor Speedway Speeding to Read Championship AssemblyA thrilling finish between eventual race winner Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan resulted in a 0.008 margin of victory – the closest INDYCAR finish in the history of the speedway and fifth-closest in series history. Close finishes are nothing new for Texas Motor Speedway as it has been the site of four of the 16 closest finishes Indy car racing. 

IndyCar Series veteran Tony Kanaan, who has seen a number of the series’ closest finishes during his career, is looking forward to returning for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 on Saturday, June 10 

“Every year we’ve been here I’ve been saying – especially in the early days – ‘That’s not going to get any better. That’s not going to get any better.’ Last year was breathtaking. The last 18 laps – between me, Hinch and Graham – was quite exciting. With a new configuration I think it will be even faster than last year. I think there is every possibility for this race to be as good or better. We went four wide last year. I think this year we can go six wide in Turn 1. See if we can’t break the record this year.”

Quote Kanaan

HARDING RACING TO RUN AT TEXAS: Verizon IndyCar Series team Harding Racing will make its first start of the 2017 season this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The team announced its second stop of the season with driver Gabby Chaves would come at Texas Motor Speedway during the Rainguard Water Sealers 600.

The team, which fields the No. 88 Chevrolet, participated in the INDYCAR test session at Texas Motor Speedway in April. Chaves has two career starts at Texas Motor Speedway with his best finish of 10th coming in 2015.

NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES RATTLESNAKE 400

NEMECHEK LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING ON NEW SURFACE AT TEXAS: When the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to Texas Motor Speedway for the Rattlesnake 400 drivers and teams will be greeted to a new look in Turns 1 and 2 along with a new racing surface.

Speeding to Read Assembly at Texas Motor SpeedwaySeeing the new track for the first time during his visit to Tuesday’s Speeding To Read championship assembly, John Hunter Nemechek tried to get a head start on his race preparation. 

“Right after we got done with the assembly on the front stretch, I actually was able to drive a rental car around for a lap or two and kind of just look at it and its way smoother than the old surface,” Nemechek said with a grin. “I got out and looked at the track and its really not that abrasive compared to the old surface.” 

Nemechek, looking to improve on his TMS-best  seventh-place finish in last year’s Rattlesnake 400, is ready for the challenges the new repave and re-profiling project will provide drivers. 

“They had to put a lot of rubber down so I don’t know how exactly that’s going to work with our trucks and INDYCAR here,” Nemechek said. “Normally we don’t put a lot of rubber down for the summer race, so hopefully we can scrub some tires or they’ll have the tire scrubbing machine here to lay down some rubber before we get here. If not, it’s going to be a fun race and track position is really going to matter.” 

SPEEDREADS FROM TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

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Teammates Will Power and Josef Newgarden go wheel-to-wheel down the frontstretch during the open test at Texas Motor Speedway in April. — Photo by: Christopher Owens / INDYCAR

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600

SMALL BALL: Much has been made in recent years about competition in the Verizon IndyCar Series. On one hand, you have the large teams of Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport and on the other is everyone else. In the first five races of this season, there have been five different winners with three coming from the larger teams and two from the smaller ones.

Firestone 600 Restart Your EnginesWhile “parity” may have set in on the VICS paddock, a look at recent winners at Texas Motor Speedway in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 shows even a wider diversity in the winners of the race.

After a streak of seven races won by either Penske or Ganassi drivers at TMS from 2006-11, three of the last five race winners have been from the “smaller” teams. Those winners have consisted of Graham Rahal (above) of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing last year, Ed Carpenter  of Ed Carpenter Racing in 2014 and Justin Wilson of Dale Coyne Racing in ’12.

Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves won in 2013 and Ganassi’s Scott Dixon was the winner of the 2015 race.

REPEAT AFTER ME: The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 will be the 29th Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. Graham Rahal is the defending champion of the race 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.

0516 DYKPOWER UP: Team Penske’s Will Power did not get off to the best of starts in 2017. In the first three races, he had issues in the pits at St. Petersburg (Fla.), a first-lap crash at Long Beach (Calif.), and a punctured tire at Barber Motorsports Park (Birmingham, Ala.) left him with a top finish of 13th through the first three events. The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, however, righted the ship at Phoenix as he finished second and then followed with a win this past weekend at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He is now fifth in the points race.

Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand PrixHas 2017 turned into a repeat of his season four years ago when he also had a slow start only to work his way back up the standings and finish fourth? It might be. Texas Motor Speedway is a place where Power might continue his climb in the standings. Although he has won only once at Texas (the second of the Twin races held in 2011), he owns the top starting average of any series driver at 3.55 over nine races. He also won the pole three consecutive seasons from 2013-15. His three poles tie for the most in track history for a VICS driver with Tomas Scheckter.

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Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand PrixSCHEDULE CHANGE: Instead of the usual practices teams have before race day, they will have one session Friday before qualifying later that afternoon. INDYCAR had a day of on-track testing at Texas Motor Speedway in April to run on the new surface and re-profiling of the layout, so teams should be somewhat familiar with new pavement and reduced banking in Turns 1 and 2. This schedule change will put pressure on every team to have their setups where they want them by the time practice ends because there will be little time for tinkering before qualifying.

“With one practice, we have to make sure we’re on our game when we show up,” said Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal, who is the defending champion of the Rainguard Water Sealers 600.

Rahal BobbleheadHEAD GAMES WITH RAHAL: The Texas Motor Speedway driver bobblehead series returns for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600. Defending race champion Graham Rahal is the featured driver for this giveaway, compliments of State Water Heaters, to the first 20,000 fans to come through the gates on Saturday, June 10.

The series began at last November’s NASCAR race week with a Tony Stewart bobblehead and continued this past April with Danica Patrick. The 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick will be featured for this November’s AAA Texas 500 race weekend.

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NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES RATTLESNAKE 400

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Alpha Energy Solutions 250JOHNNY ON THE SPOT: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Johnny Sauter could be the “old man” in what is becoming a young man’s sport. The 39-year old defending series champion isn’t letting up as he is back atop the point standings this season. He also has been successful at Texas Motor Speedway as he prepares for the Rattlesnake 400 on Friday, June 9, with three career wins, including one this past November. His other wins came by sweeping both races in 2012. He also is tied for second with Matt Crafton for the most poles in series races at TMS with three, including in last year’s Rattlesnake 400. One more and he would move into sole possession of second place on the all-time list at TMS and find himself just one behind the leader, Mike Skinner, who had five from 2004-07.

YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has long served as the breeding ground for some of the sport’s biggest superstars. There are usually a good amount of teenagers at the top of the driver standings, but that’s not the case this season. Thirty-nine-year-old Johnny Sauter sits atop the driver standings after three races and there is only one teenager in the top 10 of the standings with Kaz Grala, who won the opening race at Daytona, in sixth. The average age of the other nine drivers in the top 10 is 28 years old. Five of the current top 10 are at least 32 years old.

VETERAN LEADERSHIP: A look back to past winners of the Rattlesnake 400 shows a long list of veterans who have won in the last 10 years. From 2006-11, the average age of the winner was 46.5 years old. Three of the last five winners have been in their 30s. Last year, this streak came to a crashing halt as William Byron, then 18 years old, won the race. He became the youngest truck series winner at TMS and the second-youngest overall, a record held by Chase Elliott in the NASCAR XFINITY Series when he won at Texas in 2014.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Alpha Energy Solutions 250CRAFTY CAREER: Two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton (left) is scheduled to make his 33rd career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at the Rattlesnake 400, the most by any driver in any series in Texas Motor Speedway history. By comparison, Jeff Gordon holds the record for most starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 30, Mike Bliss has 21 in the XFINITY Series and Helio Castroneves leads the Verizon IndyCar Series with 19.

AROUND THE TRACK

RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600 MEDIA CREDENTIAL DEADLINE: The credential deadline for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 INDYCAR/NASCAR weekend is FRIDAY, MAY 26. Credentials can be requested through www.smicredentials.com. Those not yet registered for the website will first need to apply for access through the site. Once a registration confirmation e-mail is received, the credential request can then be submitted. Requests following the deadline will not be accepted.

SAVE THE DATE(S): Texas Motor Speedway will have a number of media opportunities with drivers over the next few weeks.

The annual Texas Motor Speedway Speeding to Read championship assembly will take place at the track Tuesday, May 23, Verizon IndyCar Series driver Tony Kaanan, a former Indy 500 winner and series champion, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver John Hunter Nemechek will help celebrate the accomplishments of more than 5,000 students from 10 elementary schools located throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Following the assembly that will be held in the frontstretch grandstands, the drivers will be available in the TMS Media Center at approximately 11:45 a.m. CT.

Texas Motor Speedway’s annual event with the Indianapolis 500 winner is scheduled to take place Wednesday, May 31. More details to follow as the event draws closer.

SEALING GOOD: Rainguard Water Sealers signed a three-year agreement with Texas Motor Speedway to become the entitlement sponsor of the annual Verizon IndyCar Series race held at the facility. The agreement is the first entitlement sponsorship of any kind for the company that is based in Newport Beach, Calif.

Rainguard LogoRainguard was founded in 1969 as a manufacturer of architectural grade coatings used in the construction industry. In 2010, the company 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.

The entitlement of the race was appealing to Rainguard due to the top-five metropolitan market size of DFW and the growth of INDYCAR in recent years. Verizon IndyCar Series race telecasts have increased 55 percent in viewership since 2013; social media conversation of the sport has increased 126 percent in that same timeframe; and more than 57 million Americans identify themselves as INDYCAR fans, according to the sanctioning body. Also, more than a dozen new sponsors came aboard to INDYCAR in 2016 alone.

“I’ve always believed that Indy racing is a great way to move a company’s brand to the next level. That coupled with the incredible venue at Texas Motor Speedway, made the decision easy,” Rainguard International President Claude Florent said. “We are committed to solidifying Rainguard as a respected national brand of home-improvement sealers, and creating effective and safe solutions for every homeowner throughout the nation. There is no better way than partnering with Indy and Texas Motor Speedway.”

POPULAR BLOG RETURNS FOR JUNE WEEKEND: Veteran motorsports writer John Sturbin once again will be providing comprehensive coverage of the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 weekend with stories and a live blog on texasmotorspeedway.com. His content will now also be available on the TMS App under the tab of “What’s Trending.” Sturbin’s coverage of race weekend will begin on Friday, June 9. The free TMS app is available for iPhone and Android phones via the Apple Store and Google Play Store. The app provides exclusive content and promotions, tools to navigate the speedway on race weekend and more.

 

O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500 WEEKEND RECAP

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500STREAK CONTINUES: Since Texas Motor Speedway began hosting two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races beginning in 2005, no driver has successfully defended the title of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. With his victory Sunday, Jimmie Johnson has won two of the last three, which is the best result a driver has put together in a three-year span in race history.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 - QualifyingEXTENDING DOMINANCE: Jimmie Johnson increased his all-time MENCS victory mark at Texas Motor Speedway as he won for the seventh time in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Carl Edwards is second with four.

MY HOUSE: In addition to owning the track record for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career victories with seven, Jimmie Johnson also extended a few other Texas Motor Speedway records for the series. In 28 TMS career starts, he leads all Cup drivers in top-five finishes (15), top-10 finishes (21) and laps led (1,041).

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COMING THROUGH: Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 winner Jimmie Johnson made it to Victory Lane after starting at the rear of the 40-car field due to an unapproved tire change moved him back from his 24th qualifying position. Kyle Larson finished second after starting 32nd and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fifth after starting 37th.

This marked just the third time in 33 NASCAR Cup Series races at Texas that three of the top five drivers had finished that high after starting 24th or lower. The most recent prior to Sunday was the 2009 Dickies 500 when Denny Hamlin (finished 2nd, started 25th), Matt Kenseth (3rd, 30th) and Kevin Harvick (5th, 24th) moved from the back to finish in the top five. The other time was at the 2002 Samsung/Radio Shack 500 when Kenseth won after starting 31st, Jeff Gordon was second after starting 26th and Tony Stewart was fifth after starting 29th.

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SECOND HOME: Through the first six races of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing were without a win. That drought ended for Hendrick Motorsports with Jimmie Johnson’s victory. Those two teams have now combined to win nine of the last 10 Cup races at Texas with Hendrick accounting for six of those.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Watch Jimmie Johnson’s post-race interview from Victory Lane.

SECOND DOESN’T SUCK: Kyle Larson had a streak of finishing either first or second in four consecutive races come to an end a week ago in Martinsville. He did make it five out of six races with a second-place finish in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. He continues to be the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader with a 17-point lead over Chase Elliott.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500“They’re (second-place finishes) all kind of easy to swallow, just because we have a lot of speed in our cars right now,” he said. “Seconds don’t suck that bad. I’d like to have five wins right now, but four seconds and a win isn’t terrible.”

His second-place finish gave him his third top-10 finish in eight races at Texas Motor Speedway. It also was his fifth top-10 finish in 2017. Looking at his recent run of success a little further, his runner-up finish is the seventh time in the past nine races that he has finished third or better. This also gives him three consecutive runner-up finishes on similarly configured, 1.5-mile tracks like Texas Motor Speedway.  It was also his best career finish at Texas Motor Speedway in eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts. His previous best was fifth in this event in 2014.

 

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NO PROBLEM: Chad Knaus, crew chief for race winner Jimmie Johnson, came into the race weekend without a lot of information after the track was repaved and re-configured, But that didn’t seem to matter as he and his driver won for the seventh time at Texas Motor Speedway.

“Coming here, we knew that it was going to be a challenge,” Knaus said. “We didn’t have any data from the race track. We didn’t know how to set up our simulation, so we had to do a lot of it kind of old school. It really worked out well. I was very impressed with the way NASCAR and everybody here at Texas Motor Speedway worked throughout the course of the night to get the groove widened out (dragging tires), and the track really got pretty racy there at the end. It was a lot of fun to be able to come out here and race with this new race track.”

STILL SEARCHING: This list of drivers all added one more to the number of starts they have made in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series without a win at Texas. They are Kevin Harvick (29), Jamie McMurray (27), Martin Truex Jr. (24), Clint Bowyer (23), Paul Menard (22) and David Ragan (21).

LONG TIME COMING: Rookie Ryan Blaney, who finished 12th in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500500, won the first two stages and led four times for a race-high 148 laps. The last time a Wood Brothers Racing driver led 100 laps or more in a Cup race was Neil Bonnett at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway on Oct. 31, 1982. Blaney came into Sunday’s race having led just 33 laps in his brief Cup career.

HARVICK EXTENDS TOP-10 STREAK: Kevin Harvick finished fourth in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 for his sixth consecutive top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway and ninth in his last 11. He led 77 laps in Sunday’s race after leading just 116 in his previous 28 career starts at Texas Motor Speedway.

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES PIT STOPS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fifth in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, which was his first top-10 since June of last year when he was second at Pocono. That finish was his fifth consecutive top-six Cup performance at Texas Motor Speedway. That streak does not include November’s AAA Texas 500, which he missed due to the concussion that sidelined him for the final 18 races of the 2016 season…After four consecutive results of 24th or worse, Kurt Busch finished 10th Sunday. That finish lifted Busch back into the top 16 in points…Chase Elliott finished ninth, which was his third consecutive top-10. He has had a consistent run recently as his worst result in the past 11 races is a 14th—place finish at Daytona. He has finished among the top-10 in all three career Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway…Martin Truex Jr. finished eighth Sunday, which was his fifth consecutive top-10 finish at Texas. It was also his fourth consecutive top-10 on one of the similarly configured 1.5-mile tracks. His team now has a 26-race streak of finishing on the lead lap on 1.5-mile tracks…Brad Keselowski finished sixth at Texas which was the first time since the Daytona 500 that he failed to be inside the top five…Joey Logano finished third which was his third consecutive top-five finish this season. He has now finished in the top-10 in 12 of the last 13 races…Kyle Busch finished 15th in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, marking only the second time in his last nine Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway that he did not finish among the top five.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500CRAZY TRAIN: Rock ‘n roll legend Ozzy Osbourne and his son Jack served as Honorary Race Directors for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and gave the command of “Drivers To Your Cars.” Ozzy also watched the start of the race from the pit box of reigning Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch of Stewart-Haas Racing. The Osbournes took in the race to air as one of their upcoming episodes of “Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour” show on The History Channel.

MY BARIATRIC SOLUTIONS RECAP: Erik Jones skipped his high school graduation ceremony three years ago to run in a NASCAR truck race at Texas, where he was presented his actual diploma before the event. Two years ago, he went to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway for the first time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He won again Saturday at the 1.5-mile track.

“Yeah, it’s been a good track for me,” Jones said. “The first time I came here, it’s funny, it really wasn’t that good to me, but after that it just kind of clicked and I felt really good here ever since.”

Jones led 112 of 200 laps for his seventh career XFINITY victory, four of them coming on 1.5-mile tracks. Jones finished a half-second ahead of Ryan Blaney, another full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver. Blaney led 43 laps and went into his final pit stop still with the lead before Jones went back in front for good on Lap 156. Kevin Harvick finished third and was followed by Austin Dillon and Cole Custer, respectively. Darrell “Bubba” Wallace won stage two after Harvick won the first stage of the race.

Elliott Sadler retained the XFINITY season points lead after a 10th-place finish.

CUP STILL RUNNETH OVER: Since Texas Motor Speedway began hosting two XFINITY races beginning in 2005, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers running in the series have now won 21 of the 25 races after the Erik Jones victory Saturday.

SIX SHOOTER: Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. found himself in a familiar place after Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 when he finished sixth. Outside of a crash-derailed, 33rd-place effort at the XFINITY Series’ season opener at Daytona, Wallace has finished sixth in every single race. All of those finishes have added up to him being fourth in the standings, 49 points behind leader Elliott Sadler. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram finished runner-up in the series six consecutive times in 1983 — the longest streak of consistency in the series.

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES PIT STOPS: With his victory in Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300, Erik Jones has finished among the top four in all five career NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway. He also recorded a win in his first XFINITY Series start at Texas in this event in 2015. Jones has qualified among the top three in every start as well, including a pole that led to his win in 2015. … Ryan Blaney matched his career-best XFINITY Series finish at Texas Motor Speedway with a runner-up effort in the My Bariatric Solutions 300. He has finished among the top 10 in all four career starts, including three among the top five. … Kevin Harvick’s third-place finish in the My Bariatric Solutions 300 was his 17th top-10 XFINITY Series finish at Texas Motor Speedway, tying Matt Kenseth for the track record in that category. … Austin Dillon, who finished fourth in the My Bariatric Solutions 300, has finished among the top 10 in all 10 career XFINITY Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway. … Cole Custer registered a top-five finish (5th) in the My Bariatric Solutions 300 in his first career XFINITY Series start at Texas.

O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500 ADVANCE

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500FORT WORTH, Texas — The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes its first of two stops this season at Texas Motor Speedway with Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 (12:30 p.m. CT, TV: FOX, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM Channel 90 and 95.9 FM The Ranch locally).

Here are “5 Things You Need To Know” about the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 heading into this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

  1. NEW-LOOK TEXAS: What will be the result of Texas Motor Speedway’s off-season repave and re-profiling project that consisted of reducing the banking from 24 to 20 degrees and expanding the racing surface from 60 to 80 feet in Turns 1 & 2. Teams and drivers will get their first look at it Friday at 11 a.m. CT when the first practice session begins. NASCAR has added an extra hour of practice Friday for teams to get used to the new configuration.
  2. NO REPEAT: Since Texas Motor Speedway began hosting two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races beginning in 2005, no driver has successfully defended the title of this race. That contradicts results in the fall’s AAA Texas 500 where Jimmie Johnson won four consecutive times from 2012-15.
  3. LOOKING FOR THREE: Jimmie Johnson holds the all-time MENCS victory mark at Texas Motor Speedway with six and Carl Edwards was second with four. Edwards has since retired and now there are only three active drivers that have two MENCS wins at TMS – Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth.
  4. POWER OUTAGE: Through the first six races of the season, two of the perennial powerhouse teams are without a victory – Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing. The drought could end here for either as the two organizations have combined to win eight of the last nine Cup races at Texas. Hendrick has won five of those, but JGR is coming off a sweep last year with Busch winning this event and Edwards winning November’s AAA Texas 500. 
  5. O, O, O, O’REILLY: This race has been re-titled the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, which was formerly the Duck Commander 500 for the past three years. O’Reilly Auto Parts and Texas Motor Speedway signed a multi-year agreement in May of 2016 for the national automotive aftermarket retailing leader to serve as the race entitlement sponsor. The agreement is O’Reilly Auto Parts initial race sponsorship venture on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series level at Texas Motor Speedway, but the company boasts an expansive NASCAR race entitlement portfolio at this venue. Beginning with the O’Reilly 300 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in the fall of 1999, O’Reilly Auto Parts has been the title sponsor of six truck series races (1999-2004) and 27 XFINITY Series races (2002 through ‘16 season) at TMS. They will continue to sponsor the NASCAR XFINITY Series fall race at the track.

FIVE SPOT: Brad Keselowski is on a roll. He has had five top-five finishes in the first six races, including wins at Atlanta and last week at Martinsville. Even with all that success, he still trails points leader Kyle Larson by 34 points heading into this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Keselowski is the only two-time winner this season, but if he wants to make it three in 2017 he is going to have to do something he has never done – win at Texas Motor Speedway. He came agonizingly close in the fall of 2015 when he led 312 of 334 laps only to finish runner-up to Jimmie Johnson. He has started in the top four in five of the last seven races at Texas Motor Speedway, including being the polesitter before that best finish in 2015. After a stretch of six top-10s in seven Cup races at TMS, the run was broken last year when he finished 18th in the spring and 14th in the fall.

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OFF TARGET: After four consecutive finishes in the top two, including a victory at Fontana two weeks ago, Kyle Larson logged his worst finish of the year with a 17th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series STP 500 - Practicelast week at Martinsville. His Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points lead over Chase Elliott, who finished third, was trimmed from 29 points to just four. He arrives at Texas looking for his first top-10 Cup showing since 2014, but does carry the momentum of winning the XFINITY Series race there in November.

THE CHASE IS ON: Chase Elliott is doing his best to track down Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Larson, who is now just four points ahead of theMonster Energy NASCAR Cup Series STP 500 - Practice 21-year-old. Just as Larson has, Elliott is off to a hot start in 2017. He has four top-10 finishes, won the pole at Daytona and comes into the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 after tying his season-best finish of third at Martinsville. He also leads the Total Stage Points list with 79 and is one of only three drivers to have at least two stage wins this season (Martin Truex Jr.  – 4, and Kevin Harvick – 3 are the others). He has proven to be at the top of his game when it comes to racing at Texas. He has two MENCS starts at TMS and finished fifth last spring and fourth in the fall. And remember, he won his first career XFINITY Series race at Texas in the spring of 2014.

THIS WEEK’S VIDEO: Jimmie Johnson on Texas Motor Speedway’s repave and re-profiling project.

POLE CLIMBERS: While three drivers will be looking for their third MENCS win at Texas Motor Speedway, there also will be only three drivers searching to register their third pole at the 1.5-mile facility. There are currently seven drivers that have won the pole for a Cup series race but only these three – Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman and Martin Truex, Jr. – will have the chance to take the lead all by themselves.

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SPINNING THEIR WHEELS: With the Texas repave and re-profiling being completed in early-March, Goodyear opted to not conduct a tire test at the facility and then build the quantities needed for this race weekend. Given the commonality of the asphalt mix, along with the results of the Kentucky race last July, the decision was made to bring a tire set-up with the same tread compounds as raced at Kentucky.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Rinnai 250 - PracticeTeams in both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and XFINITY Series will run the same tire set-up at Texas this weekend. This is the same left-side tire code (D-4688) teams in all three national NASCAR series ran at Kentucky in 2016. This is a brand new right-side tire code (D-4718), which features the same tread compound as the right-side Cup teams ran at Kentucky last July, with a minor construction change. As on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run liners in all four tire positions at Texas.

MILESTONE FOR TEAM PENSKE: A few weeks ago, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his 600th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Fontana and last week another icon of the sport surpassed a milestone. The race at Martinsville was Team Penske’s 1,000th NASCAR start and it was fitting that the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford driven by Brad Keselowski, was in Victory Lane after the race to truly ring in the massive milestone. Remember Roger Penske won the Verizon IndyCar Series title last year with Simon Pagenaud last September. Could he follow that with a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title this year? It could happen based on how Keselowski and Joey Logano are running thus far. Keseslowski is the only driver with two wins on the season and his car his fourth in the owners standings, 34 down to the No. 42 of Chip Gannasi Racing driven by Kyle Larson. Logano’s No. 22 is 27 points behind Keselwoski in fifth.

LONGEST TIME: There are six drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series that have made at least 20 starts without a win at Texas. They are Kevin Harvick (28), Jamie McMurray (26), Martin Truex Jr. (23), Clint Bowyer (22), Paul Menard (21) and David Ragan (20).

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TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY TRACK RENOVATION BY THE NUMBERS

20 – Degree of banking in Turns 1 & 2 after re-profiling

24 – Degree of banking in Turns 3 & 4

80 – Width of racing surface in Turns 1 & 2 that was expanded from 60 feet

800 – Truckloads of asphalt delivered to TMS for repave

3,000 – Feet of tire packs added to inner wall areas that did not have safer barrier

10,000 – Tires used on inner walls for energy-absorbing barriers

10,500 – Tons of stone used for fill for re-profiling of Turns 1 & 2

19,982 – Tons of asphalt used to repave the 1.5-mile oval and pit lane

24,000 – Linear feet of drainage tile and ditches for enhanced French drainage system

Source: Texas Motor Speedway

DOWN AND DIRTY: Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart will be joined by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Christopher Bell, former NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace, three-time World of Outlaws Champion Slammin’ Sammy Swindell and WoO legend Danny “The Dude” Lasoski for the Tony Stewart’s Texas Sprint Car Nationals Presented by Machinery Auctioneers event Friday and Saturday evening at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

FANDANGO RETURNS: Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage and Kyle Petty will co-host the FANDANGO fan event beginning at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the frontstretch grandstands. FANDANGO is a raucous, entertaining, talk-show style event that will feature special appearances by Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer during the 90-minute show that also includes the guests racing office chairs powered by fire extinguishers and fan giveaways. FANDANGO is free for season ticket holders and just $10 at the gate for the general public.

BLOG RETURNS: The Texas Motor Speedway website and mobile app will feature the “What’s Trending At The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500” blog during race weekend. Beginning Thursday through Sunday, the blog will provide up-to-the-minute updates and stories from on-track action and off-track activities. The blog will feature veteran motorsports writer John Sturbin throughout the weekend.  Visit http://www.texasmotorspeedway.com or download the app to stay on top of all the weekend activities.