Ah-h-h-h, Texas… Not only is it a big state but it is a big race, at least for some that need to have a good finish and it is a Saturday night race, which in this fan’s opinion, just might make it even better. The first thing many think of when they think of Texas Motor Speedway is how fast the cars enter the turns (probably over 200 mph) and how poor the grip is once they get into them. I’ve heard over and over again how the crew chiefs tell the drivers this week, “Trust me, it will stick when you throw it in there…”
Every track has it’s own character and the Texas track definitely shows it has one of its own. The surface is showing its age which is obvious by how the teams are struggling to find grip for the back tires of their cars and, with the closeness of the competition in this 2011 season, they’re going to need all they can find.
It is fairly obvious to this fan (and many others, I’m sure), the Fords looked mighty tough in the final practice and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the possibility David Ragan has along with his team-mate, Carl Edwards. In fact one could even include Matt Kenseth with them. The two have qualified one-two on the front row for the Cup race tonight and Edwards won the Nationwide race last night. Even though it appears the Fords have an advantage, the other manufacturers will definitely make a statement after the sun sets tonight and the race winds down to its final laps. (At least, the Chevys did last week…)
So that brings us to what could really happen this evening at the Texas track. From this fan’s view, I think it’s going to be either a walkaway for someone, or a first win for someone like a David Ragan or even Marcos Ambrose. Does that mean I expect it, not necessarily, but it does mean it is a strong possibility and it could happen. But I thought the Chevys were going to struggle last weekend the way qualifying and practice went for them and I was dead wrong.
Of course, one has to wonder how the JGR camp will do tonight. If anyone has anything to prove and also needs a good finish, it would be them. Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano definitely are frustrated with their performance so far this year and, though they have run strong at times during past races, they just haven’t been around at the end. Kyle Bush has led the most laps over the last two weekends and has not been able to finish off his competitors when it came time to take the checkered flag. Interestingly enough, though, he has taken the losses quite in stride and is #1 in points at the moment.
From my view, the Hendrick Chevys were struggling to find balance and speed on the Texas track and only Jimmie Johnson qualified in the top ten. Thinking back to Martinsville last week though, they were struggling up to race day also and then made a strong showing for most of the afternoon.
It was basically similar in the RCR camp, too. Clint Bowyer looked strong at Martinsville but faded in the final laps. This week, he looks strong and qualified third, but one has to wonder if he will fade at the end again and whether Kevin Harvick will just lead the last couple of laps as he has the past couple of weeks.
Texas is a tough track and the practices were not at all near the time and temperature conditions they will be racing against tonight.
From this fan’s view, I think this is one of the most unpredictable races of the year. If qualifying says anything to me about this weekend, it says the cars were faster when the track was cooler, but also, the ones that were fast when the track was warmer, were faster when it cooled down. It’s all about balance and getting all the grip you can get and the one that finds the most could walk away with the win. It doesn’t look the tires will be an issue tonight, but the track will definitely be changing throughout the night. And then there’s pit stops and track position.
And then… there’s that thing called fuel mileage.
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 9, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music by Mike Stewart – “TwoBuckThemes” unless otherwise stated