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Oct 11, 2012 - 06:28 AM
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Texas Motor Speedway Speed Reads For Week Of 10/8/12
Posted by: newsla on Oct 11, 2012 - 06:27 AM
Texas Motor Speedway Speed Reads For Week Of 10/8/12

The future of NASCAR was on display at Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday as NASCAR and its tire manufacturer took part in a two-day test session that featured the newly designed 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars.


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NASCAR will usher in a new change with the three manufacturers competing in the 2013 season - Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota - and allow their body design to more closely resemble those of the passenger vehicle models. The test session provided valuable data for the four Sprint Cup Series drivers and their manufacturers participating in the two-day test - Juan Pablo Montoya, Paul Menard (Chevrolet SS), Greg Biffle (Ford Fusion) and Kyle Busch (Toyota Camry).

"The car felt really good. A lot like it did in April," said Biffle, the reigning Samsung Mobile 500 winner said. "I think it's definitely headed in the right direction, 100 percent. They've taken weight out of the car, which I think was definitely the right move. Basically what we're working on is getting more mechanical grip and having the car not to be so aero dependent."

The test at Texas Motor Speedway was just the third this season and the first on a 1.5-mile speedway. The car, which tested in August at Martinsville Speedway and at Talladega Superspeedway last week, has continued to take shape.

For NASCAR, each test session is a step closer to fine tuning a project that has been in the making for more than two years. The introduction of NASCAR's "Car of Tomorrow" (COT) in 2007 marked the arrival of a chassis that focused on safety and provided little difference in the way of body style to the manufacturers. With the 2013 car, NASCAR has redefined it goal to provide a sleeker race car that allow for more unique characteristics similar to the SS, Fusion and Camry one would find on a showroom floor of a car dealership.

"The entire goal of this car was to update it," NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. "It's about product relevance. We got away from that for a number of years when our primary focus was on safety and cost. We felt like we had good, competitive racing, but the thing that we lacked is part of the product relevance and having the car look more like showroom cars."

The changes have provided the ideal balance between aesthetics and competitiveness on the track. Montoya said the car is as fast as it looks, losing little speed when compared to the current chassis. During the test session, Montoya circled the track in 29 seconds flat - equaling a speed of 186.207 miles per hour - in race trim compared to Martin Truex Jr.'s pole time during April's Samsung Mobile 500 at 28.366 seconds and a speed of 190.369 miles per hour.

The speed is just part of the reason Montoya believes the fans will be excited. The connection the new car will make with fans has him and other drivers optimistic about the future.

"Every manufacturer looks the same and changes were so small," Montoya said of the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. "I think this car has a lot of personality. It's going to look really, really cool. I think if you are a fan and you like a certain car, you are really going to fall in love with watching it race. You can really relate to it more than before."

The new models will make their official debut at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 13, for the Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Chipping Away

Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon began the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a rough outing - finishing 35th at Chicagoland Speedway - but he hasn't let that put an end on his run for a fifth series crown.

Gordon, who last week joined pediatric cancer patients in a fun-filled morning at LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Grapevine, has rebounded from his poor start in the Chase with three consecutive top-three finishes, including a runner-up finish last weekend at Talladega that moved him up four spots to sixth in the series championship. He enters Saturday night's Chase race at Charlotte 42 points behind leader Brad Keselwoski.

Gordon is not lamenting his bad break at Chicago due to a stuck throttle, but focused on strong finishes to allow him to roar back into the championship contender mix.

"Once it happens, you can't take it back," Gordon said of the stumble in the opening Chase race. "You can't change it. You have to refocus and move on to the next race and try to put the best nine races together that you can in our case. It's going to come down to the final race. You are going to have to perform all the way to the final lap in Homestead."

Gordon hopes to return to Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 4 for the AAA Texas 500 in the thick of the championship hunt and is aware that this race - No. 8 of 10 in the Chase - will be pivotal to any contender's championship hopes.

"Coming out of Texas strong certainly puts any driver in a position to win the championship two weeks later in Homestead," Gordon said. "We're certainly excited to get back here. We've got to step up and make sure we're putting pressure on the top guys so that when we come here for the AAA Texas 500, we're within striking distance in the Chase."

Gordon has fared well in the AAA Texas 500, with four top-10 finishes and two pole positions in seven career starts in the annual fall event. His best effort was second in 2008 and he was sixth in his most recent start in 2011.

Tickets are available for the AAA Texas 500 by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com or by calling the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500.

Chef's Choice

Levy Restaurants and The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway will bring a Central American flair to its dining experience with the arrival of new Executive Chef Joel Pena.

Chef Joel, who served as Executive Chef at Philips Arena in Atlanta before coming to Texas Motor Speedway, found his passion for cooking while working in his native El Salvador.

Chef Joel's culinary passion dates back to his time while in El Salvador in 1996 when he was working in the accounting department of a hotel. An emergency in the kitchen prompted him to put on the chef's hat and run the kitchen. More than 16 years later, it has truly become a success story. Chef Joel has worked at major sporting events and venues including the Kentucky Derby, Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Game, the Green Bay Packers' Lambeau Field and the Georgia Dome in addition to the Atlanta Hawks home, Philips Arena.

"I love the place, I love the people and there is a lot of excitement going on around here," Pena said of Texas Motor Speedway. "I try to accommodate myself to the environment. I always try to put my little tweak on them. I like to cook with fresh ingredients and I like to give a Southwest tweak to it. A little spice, a little smoky flavor. That's my line of work."

Last Lap

The media credential deadline for the AAA Texas 500 weekend is Friday, Oct. 19. To apply for credentials,
visit 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. ...

Fans have the opportunity to experience the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway with Team Texas race car rides on Saturday, Nov. 3, prior to the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. For $150, fans will receive four laps around "The Great American Speedway!" in a NASCAR stock car at speeds up to 160 miles per hour. Rides can be purchased by calling (817) 215-8593. ... Fans wanting to enjoy four days of exciting NASCAR action can still take advantage of the AAA Texas 500 Weekend 4-Pack for as low as $121. The AAA Texas 500 Weekend 4-Pack consists of a frontstretch ticket for Camping World Truck Series practice on Thursday, Nov. 1; Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series SportsDay Qualifying Day Powered By The Dallas Morning News and WinStar World Casino 350 race on Friday, Nov. 2; Nationwide Series SportsDay Qualifying Day Powered By The Dallas Morning News and O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge race on Saturday, Nov. 3; and the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 4. The 4-pack also includes the same benefits of being a season ticket holder which includes access to the exclusive "No Limits" Garage Party presented by WinStar World Casino, discounted concessions, merchandise, camping, parking and more.

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