Rumple and Ruffled, NASCAR Heads to Texas
I visited the National Rifle Association's website to see what I could find to augment our review of Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Race from Texas Motor Speedway. Wow, what a beautiful photo. What's this got to do with NASCAR? Because the NRA is a new NASCAR sponsor. Now Blake Smith and I will take a look at the:
Weekend Preview: NRA 500
Last weekend’s race at Martinsville ended in rumpled sheet metal and ruffled feathers for some drivers. Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag, while Danica Patrick came from two laps down to finish in the 12th position. This weekend the teams head to Texas Motor Speedway for the first night race of the season.
The 1.5 mile track located just outside of Fort Worth can be compared to both Atlanta Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway with it’s high banks and dog leg on the front straight away. The track held it’s first race in 1997 with Jeff Burton scoring his first career victory in Texas’s first race. The estimated ticket sales for that concert were 185,000. Texas Motor Speedway also held a country concert in 1997 featuring Joe Dee Messina, Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels and my favorite, Hank Williams Jr.
Teams arrived to the track early for this weekend’s race. NASCAR provided teams with two test sessions on Thursday to help prepare the Gen6 car for it’s first non-superspeedway night race. Kurt Busch’s #78 Chevrolet led the first session with a speed of 191.225. The afternoon session was paced by his former team-mate, Greg Biffle with a speed of 192.864 MPH. The qualifying record is held by Brian Vickers in November of 2006 with a speed of 196.235. Cars will take to the track for qualifying at 5:40 CST on Friday.
According to Mike Mulhern, one of the hot stories in the garage on Thursday was the possibility of an ownership change in one of NASCAR’s top eight teams. Veteran team owner, Chip Ganassi may be considering selling his two-car team to John Menard. Menard, who owns the home improvement chain of Menards, currently sponsors his son, Paul Menard’s #27 Chevrolet at Richard Childress Racing.
The trend of new chassis continues this week at Texas. Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola are scheduled to utilize new chassis for this weekend’s race. Kasey Kahne will be in new colors this week as he races the #5 Time Warner Chevrolet, this is the same chassis that he finished 2nd with at Las Vegas. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who got his first win at Texas, is bringing the same chassis he finished 7th with last November at Texas. Texas native Bobby Labonte likes the "multiple grooves and the way tires give up". He thinks that leads to good racing and excitement for the fans.
Forty-five drivers are entered for this weekend’s event for 43 positions. Brian Vickers will be filling in for the injured Denny Hamlin in the #11. Austin Dillon returns to James Finch’s #51 Chevrolet and the Wood Brothers return to the track this weekend with Trevor Bayne in the #21 Ford. Scott Riggs and Mike Bliss must make the race on time as they have the least amount of owner’s points.
In other NASCAR news, the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees were announced this week in Charlotte. They include Red Byron, Richard Childress, Jerry Cook, H. Clay Earles, Tim Flock, Ray Fox, Anne Bledsoe France, Rick Hendrick, Jack Ingram, Bobby Isaac, Dale Jarrett, Fred Lorenzen, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Maurice Petty, Larry Phillips, Les Richter, Fireball Roberts, T. Wayne Roberston, Wendell Scott, Ralph Seagraves, Bruton Smith, Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly and Rex White. The 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees will be announced on May 22nd in Charlotte.
Goodyear has scheduled a tire test for this Tuesday and Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway. Drivers who are scheduled to participate are Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, Regan Smith, Danica Patrick, Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, Austin Dillon and Carl Edwards. A driver from Joe Gibbs Racing will also be attending.
Brad Keselowski, Roger Penskie and the #2 team are scheduled to make a visit to the White House on Tuesday to visit with President Obama. In the past, NASCAR has opted to bring it’s entire Chase field to the White House. This year, much like other professional sports, they have elected to just bring the championship team. With a strong start to the season and strong resume in Texas, my pick for the winner on Ssaturday is Brad Keselowski!
Tune into Saturday night’s coverage of the NRA 500 beginning at 5:30PM on WBKR and wbkr.com. Also, for a complete wrap up of this weekend’s races at Texas and Rockingham, tune into NASCAR Live at 6pm on Tuesday on 92.5 WBKR and WBKR.com!