MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES ADVANCE FOR O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500

A look ahead to this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday. The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 1 p.m. CT and also on PRN and SiriusXM Radio.

REIGNING CUP SERIES CHAMPION TRUEX JR.
EYES FIRST WIN AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY  

FORT WORTH, Texas (April 4, 2018) — Martin Truex Jr. won just two races in his first 382 starts in NASCAR’s Cup Series. A win at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015 changed everything for the native of Mayetta, N.J.

Over the last 100 races since that win, Truex Jr. has been to Victory Lane another 13 times, the most of any driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series during that span. Truex’s 16 wins have come at 12 different tracks with multiple wins coming at Chicago, Charlotte, Dover and Kansas. Truex Jr. has led a total of 2,314 laps at the latter three of those four tracks, respectively. In fact, Truex Jr. has led more than 500 laps at five different tracks, the others being New Hampshire Motor Speedway (661 laps) and right here in Fort Worth at Texas Motor Speedway.

“I feel really good about going to Texas,” said Truex Jr., who led 156 laps last year at TMS, where he finished eighth (April) and second (November). “We’ve definitely been successful there and led laps and feel like we’ve had a shot to win quite a few races.”

winless

In 44 combined starts, Truex Jr. (595 laps led) and Brad Keselowski (589) have combined to lead 1,184 laps at Texas Motor Speedway — far and away the most by drivers that have never been to Victory Lane here.

For Truex Jr., that first win is so close he can taste it. Over the course of the last four races at TMS, Truex Jr. has led the field around the 1.5-mile high-banked oval for 363 total laps.

“We’ve had a car to win there, we just haven’t been able to close the deal for one reason or another,” Truex Jr. said. “Hopefully this time around it’ll be our time.”

Truex Jr. arrives at the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 riding a streak of six consecutive top-10 finishes and has 14 top-10 performances in his 25 career starts. His best finish is second, the first coming in this event in 2013 and matched in this past November’s AAA Texas 500.

MILE-AND-A-HALF MONSTER

It took all of four races for Kevin Harvick to eclipse his win total from the 2017 season. Consecutive victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway (Phoenix), respectively, put the rest of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage on notice.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500
Kevin Harvick’s most recent visit to Texas Motor Speedway last November ended in Victory Lane.

“I don’t think anybody’s got anything for Harvick,” said Kyle Busch after Harvick’s win at ISM Raceway, his third victory in a row.

“Our … Chevy was fast.  Nowhere near Harvick’s level,” added Kyle Larson after Harvick’s win at Las Vegas.
Harvick has cooled off a bit over the last two races, but a week off and a return to Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval may just be the perfect recipe for a fourth trip to Victory Lane this season.
Harvick’s last trip to the Lone Star State was a memorable one. He broke an 0-for-29 winless streak at the Fort Worth speedway when he passed Martin Truex Jr. for the lead with 10 to go and sped away for his first Texas Motor Speedway Cup Series victory in last November’s AAA Texas 500 Playoff race. The win locked Harvick into the Championship Race, where he’d eventually fall short to Truex Jr.
Dating back to last year, Harvick has three wins in his last four starts on intermediate (1.5-mile) tracks and has finished outside the top 10 only eight times in his last 50 starts on such tracks dating back to 2015.
It’s a safe bet that Harvick will be a factor on Sunday.

SLUMPBUSTER

Jimmie Johnson averaged an impressive 22 top 10s per season through his first 14 years as a full-time driver in NASCAR’s Cup Series. Not once did he have a season with less than 20 top 10s.

He managed just 16 of those efforts in 2015, which was masked by coming out of nowhere to win his seventh series championship in the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He followed that up with arguably the worst season of his storied career in 2017. But again, a pedestrian (for Johnson’s standards) 11 top-10s was scoffed at thanks to three trips to Victory Lane.

Texas Motor Speedway Media Day
Jimmie Johnson is hoping to emulate his bobblehead’s pose in Victory Lane on Sunday.

One of those three wins came here at Texas Motor Speedway, a track Johnson has dominated over the course of his career. He’s won seven times, five more than the next closest driver(s). He owns 21 top-10 finishes, with 15 of those being among the top five. And his 8.8 average finishing position in 29 career starts is the only AFP inside the top 10 among active drivers.

So, with just one top 10 in his first six starts of 2018, it’s safe to say that Texas Motor Speedway could be just the track for Johnson to break a current 29-race winless slump that dates back to June 4 of last year — the longest drought between wins of his career.

“It doesn’t get in my head, but I want to win for my own reasons. I’m very motivated for that,” said Johnson when asked about his winless streak. “The streak and to be reminded of it every week, I just kind of just chuckle at. It is so tough to win in our sport and it’s so tough to operate at a high level in pro sports for any length of time. I just know what I have to do and how hard I’m working and that makes it much easier than it does to the outsiders looking in.” 

Don’t expect Johnson to bobble the opportunity in front of him. After all, there will be versions of his bobblehead, sponsored by Blue Bunny Ice Cream and fit with a handcrafted Justin Cowboy Hat, handed out to the first 30,000 fans attending Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.

CUP SERIES DATES ANNOUNCED FOR 2019 SEASON 

On Tuesday, NASCAR announced its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule for the 2019 season. No big changes were made, as Texas Motor Speedway will remain the seventh race of the season and the second race in the Final Eight segment of the Playoffs.
With Easter falling later in 2019, the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 will be held one week earlier than this year, dropping the green flag on Sunday, March 31. The fall AAA Texas 500 Playoff race will run on Sunday, November 3.
Other key race dates include the season-opening Daytona 500 (Feb. 17), the All-Star Race in Charlotte (May 18), the Coca-Cola 600 (May 26), the opening round of the NASCAR Playoffs in Las Vegas (Sept. 15) and the Championship Race in Miami (Nov. 17).       

TEXAN BUESCHER REFLECTS ON TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

A native of Prosper, Texas, Chris Buescher recounts his first visit to Texas Motor Speedway, why he fell in love with the sport of racing, and the special place this track has in the 25-year-old’s heart as he’s climbed the ladder all the way to the top series of NASCAR. 

UNDER THE HOOD: TEXAS EDITION

Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 will feature nearly a dozen Texans working for eight different Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams on pit road. Here’s a list of the Texans and their respective roles: 

  • Kenny M. De Guisto of Garland — Underneath Mechanic for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • Marcos D. Castro of Denton — Shock Technician for Paul Menard
  • Larry J. Robinette of Dallas — Utility for Paul Menard
  • Sam T. Abney of Austin — Front Carrier/ Fueler for Ryan Newman
  • Colin J. Fambrough of Tyler — Rear Changer for Chris Buescher
  • Philippe J Lopez of San Antonio — Competition VP, Director for Bubba Wallace
  • Pedro Martinez Jr. of San Antonio — Front Changer for Harrison Rhodes
  • Robert G Best II of Arlington — Underneath Mechanic for Trevor Bayne
  • Eric W. Wallace of Austin — Front Carrier for Trevor Bayne
  • Michael A Leavine of Bullard — Competition VP, Director for Kasey Kahne
  • Ryan R Dextraze (no city listed) — Underneath Mechanic for Kasey Kahne

NASCAR ON FOX TV SCHEDULE AT TEXAS

FRIDAY

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES practice, Noon-1 PM CENTRAL,  FS1

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES practice, 1-2 PM CT – FS1

NASCAR RACE HUB: WEEKEND EDITION, 2-3 PM CT – FS1

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES final practice, 3-4 PM CT – FS1

NASCAR RACE HUB: WEEKEND EDITION, 4-4:30 PM CT – FS1

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES qualifying, 4:30-6 PM CT – FS1

SATURDAY

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES practice, 10-11 AM CT – FS1

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES qualifying, 11-Noon PM CT – FS1

NASCAR RACE HUB: WEEKEND EDITION, Noon-12:30 PM CT – FS1

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES final practice, 12:30-1:30 PM CT – FS1

NASCAR RACEDAY-NXS, 1:30-2 PM CT – FOX

MY BARIATRIC SOLUTIONS 300 NASCAR XFINITY SERIES Racing, 2-4:30 PM CT – FOX

 SUNDAY

NASCAR RACEDAY, 11:30-1 PM – FS1

O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES Racing, 1-5 PM CT – FS1

NOTES

Only three of the 34 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from the Busch Pole position. The most victory-friendly starting position is third, the grid spot race winner Kevin Harvick started from last November. Seven times the race winner has started third … Jimmie Johnson (seven), Denny Hamlin (two) and Kyle Busch (two) are the only multi-time Texas winners in the field this weekend … Reigning Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. is among a threesome sporting the longest active winless streaks at TMS. Truex is winless in 25 starts in the Lone Star State. Jamie McMurray is 0-for-28 and Clint Bowyer hasn’t won in 24 tries at Texas … Kurt Busch needs to lead only 49 laps to become the 20th driver in NASCAR history to lead at least 9,000 laps in his career.

-TMS-

 

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