NASCAR STARS JOIN STEWART AT TMS DIRT TRACK EVENT: Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart will be joined by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Christopher Bell and former NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace for the Tony Stewart Presents Texas Sprint Car Nationals event on April 7-8 at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track.
Stenhouse Jr. and Bell will compete alongside Stewart in the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series competition while Wallace will take part in the Limited Modified action during the two-day event that takes place during the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
Stenhouse Jr. is a two-time NASCAR XFINITY Series champion who is in the midst of his fifth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season driving the No. 17 Fastenal Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing. He also is the co-owner with Matt Wood of Stenhouse Jr.-Wood Racing that competes in the World of Outlaws with driver Joey Saldana.
Bell, a native of Norman, Okla., is in his second season driving the No. 4 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Coming off a strong rookie NCWTS season in which he recorded a pair of victories and finished third in the championship, he collected his first win of 2017 two weeks ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He also won the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals sprint car crown in January.
Wallace, who retired in 2015 after 25 years and more than 900 career starts across NASCAR’s three national series, returns to his racing roots with an entry in the Limited Modified Division.
Racing begins each evening at 7:30 p.m. Tickets each night are $35 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Texas Motor Speedway also has a two-day ticket at $59 for adults and $20 for 12 and under. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit texasmotorspeedway.com or call the speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500.
QUICK DRY: Monday’s unveiling of the track renovations showcased the re-profiling of Turns 1 and 2 and the complete repave of Texas Motor Speedway, but it also unexpectedly featured the new French drainage system.
Rain showers moved through Fort Worth on Monday morning and soaked the 1.5-mile oval as special guests from NASCAR and INDYCAR arrived early for a media event. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Chris Buescher (left), one of the guests on hand, definitely noticed how well the new surface was able to dry.
“First of all, the track was soaked when we got here this morning and was dry within the hour without any assistance,” Buescher said. “We ran maybe 10 laps in a pace car – it was all we really did to help that and it’s dry. So that’s a really good thing for going forward.”
As part of the cap project, Texas Motor Speedway had an expansive French drainage system installed on both the frontstretch and backstretch. The speedway dealt with delays at its NASCAR and INDYCAR race weekends due to the inability of the aging track surface to dry efficiently and that led to this project getting underway in January.
MEDIA DAY AND TMS NO LIMITS LUNCHEON: The annual Texas Motor Speedway Media Day is set for Thursday, March 30, at Gilley’s in Dallas (1135 S Lamar St., Dallas 75215). The media portion of the day will begin at 10 am. This year’s event features Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has made his return to racing after missing the second half of 2016 with concussion-like symptoms; INDYCAR driver Graham Rahal, the defending champion of the Rainguard Water Sealers 600; and NASCAR XFINITY Series driver William Byron,winner of the Longhorn 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at TMS in June of 2016. TMS President Eddie Gossage also will be on hand for an update on the track’s repave and re-profiling project that took place earlier this year, plus provide information on what is on tap for the 2017 season at TMS. Country music artists Kinsey Coppin and Garrett Thompson will provide musical entertainment during the lunch period. Doors open at 11, lunch from 12 noon-12:30 p.m. and the formal program from 12:30-1 p.m. Media sessions with the driver guests and Gossage will take place from 10 a.m. – 12 noon before lunch. Get a head start on race coverage of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 with the various guests as well as a defending champion piece for June’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 INDYCAR/NASCAR doubleheader weekend. Please RSVP for the event to Mallorie Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THREE-PEAT SWEEP ON THE HORIZON?: Kyle Busch registered his second Texas Motor Speedway sweep last April as he won both the Cup and XFINITY series races. That was his second Texas sweep in the past four years with his other coming in 2013. Busch, the driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, owns a track-record 13 NASCAR national series wins at TMS (2 Cup, 8 XFINITY and 3 truck).
WHO WILL BE THE ONE TO BREAK THE TIE? While Kyle Busch (above) is by far and away the driver with the most NASCAR national series wins at TMS, there is a quartet of drivers tied for second with six. Jimmie Johnson (6 Cup), the recently retired Carl Edwards (4 Cup, 2 XFINITY), Kevin Harvick (5 XFINITY, 1 truck) and Todd Bodine (6 truck) are the next closest in wins at the track. Johnson and Harvick are the only two who have an opportunity to move up on Busch as Edwards and Bodine are no longer racing.
If Harvick is going to get to seven, he will have to accomplish this in a new car. For the first time in his career, Harvick isn’t piloting a Chevrolet as his team as Stewart-Haas Racing switched to Ford during the off-season.
“Our confidence is high just because a of how fast our Ford has been,” Harvick said. “So I think once we got the balance and have an idea now of where the balance needs to be we can get the handling right, but speed is not an issue.
“Those guys who are taking care of the engine are on top of their game. They have not missed a beat under the hood. But the whole company is becoming another company. The balance, set-up, new rules package, there’s a lot to adjust to, and a lot to do in order to make the car drive right.”
He has finished among the top six in four of the last five Cup races at Texas, including two runner-up finishes and a third-place finish.
HARVICK TO COMPETE IN XFINITY SERIES RACE AT TEXAS: Kevin Harvick will get an opportunity to pursue a sixth career XFINITY Series victory at Texas Motor Speedway as he will headline the field for the My Bariatric Solutions 300 on Saturday, April 8. Harvick stepped into the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Ford Mustang for the first time at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 4 and finished fourth while leading a race-high 64 laps.
This appearance will mark the 18th time he has pulled double duty by racing in a XFINITY and a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in the same weekend at TMS. This will be his first spring XFINITY race since 2014 and his seventh spring race overall. He has proven to be more successful in the fall XFINITY race as four of his five wins have come in the second race of the year at TMS. His lone spring win came in 2001, but that was the only race of the season at the 1.5-mile track in the series. Other MENCS drivers expected to race in the My Bariatric Solutions 300 include brothers Austin and Ty Dillon and Ryan Blaney.
HARVICK SPEAKS: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick gives his views on the repave and re-profiling of Texas Motor Speedway:
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500 WEEKEND CREDENTIAL INFORMATION: The credential deadline for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 weekend is Friday, March 24. Credentials can be requested through smicredentials.com. Those not registered for the website will first need to apply for access through the site. Once a registration confirmation email is received, the credential request can be submitted. Requests following the deadline will not be accepted. For those media members that wish to attend the Tony Stewart Presents Texas Sprint Car Nationals at the TMS Dirt Track on April 7-8, wristbands will be available from the track’s PR staff.
MAKE MY DAY: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 returns to a Sunday afternoon race on April 9. From 2011-2016, the race was moved to a Saturday night event with the exception of 2014 when the NCAA Final Four was in DFW. That race was rained out on the Sunday and eventually ran on Monday.
“Between meetings with our fan council, feedback from season-ticket holders and Texas Motor Speedway fans in general, the overall sentiment is that they preferred a Sunday race because it provided a more expansive weekend of activities,” TMS President Eddie Gossage said. “This is great for the tourism-related businesses in Dallas-Fort Worth and a great schedule for our fans.”
HEAD GAMES: The Texas Motor Speedway driver bobblehead series returns for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Danica Patrick is the featured driver for the first one being given away, compliments of State Water Heaters, to the first 30,000 fans to come through the gates on Sunday, April 9.
The series started last year with a Tony Stewart bobblehead and will continue this year with 2014 MENCS champion Kevin Harvick and and defending Rainguard Water Sealers 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race winner Graham Rahal being featured at the final two race weekends of the year.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500 FACTS: The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 is scheduled for Sunday, April 9, at 12:30 p.m. CDT and will be broadcast on FOX. It can be heard on SiriusXM Channel 90, PRN and locally on 95.9 The Ranch. The race is the seventh of 36 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. The series returns to Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 5, for the AAA Texas 500, which is the 34th race of the season and part of the NASCAR playoffs.
MY BARIATRIC SOLUTIONS 300 FACTS: The NASCAR XFINITY Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 will be run on Saturday, April 8, and will start at 12:30 p.m. CT. The race will be broadcast on FOX and can be heard on SiriusXM Channel 90, PRN and locally on 95.9 The Ranch.
NEW SPONSORS ON BOARD: 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 for the annual April NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the world-renowned motorsports facility beginning with April’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
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 publicly traded Fortune 500 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 Texas Motor Speedway. They will continue to sponsor the NASCAR XFINITY Series fall race at the track that has been re-branded the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
Wise Health System has signed a multi-year agreement with Texas Motor Speedway to serve as the entitlement sponsor for April’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race and as the speedway’s official healthcare provider.
The five-year agreement is a multi-pronged sponsorship that is anchored by the entitlement rights for the XFINITY Series race that will be re-branded as the “My Bariatric Solutions 300.”
Wise Health System also will be the “Official Healthcare Provider of Texas Motor Speedway” and that sponsor designation will provide enhanced medical equipment and services for the NASCAR and INDYCAR race weekends, beginning with the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500/My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR doubleheader on April 7-9.
GOODGUYS RETURNS TO TMS MARCH THIS WEEKEND: Car enthusiasts from across the region will converge on Texas Motor Speedway on Friday through Sunday for the seventh annual Goodguys Spring Lone Star Nationals. The event features more than 2,000 hot rods, customs, classic, muscle cars and trucks thru 1972. Spectators can peruse the Swap Meet and Cars 4 Sale Corral, visit the vendor and manufacturer exhibits and enjoy live entertainment.
The festivities run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT both Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets at the gate are $20 for adults and $6 for children ages 7-12. Children six and under are free. For additional information, visit good-guys.com.
POPULAR BLOG COMES TO TMS APP: Veteran motorsports writer John Sturbin will once again be providing comprehensive coverage of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 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 Thursday, April 6. 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.
FROM THE TWITTER-VERSE: A look at what fans are saying about Texas Motor Speedway: