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Texas Motor Speedway Speed Reads For Week Of 10/21/13
Posted by: newsla on Oct 23, 2013 - 08:14 PM
Texas Motor Speedway Speed Reads For Week Of 10/21/13

With just four races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and championship aspirations on the line, 10 of the 13 Chase drivers, including the top eight, have been visiting since Monday during an extensive three-day test session at Texas Motor Speedway in preparations for next Sunday's AAA Texas 500.


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The AAA Texas 500, the eighth race in the 10-event Chase for the Sprint Cup, traditionally has been pivotal in determining the eventual champion and should be once again with five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) holding a four-point edge over 2003 Cup champ Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) and three other drivers - Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet), Kyle Busch and four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive for Hunger Chevrolet) - all within 34 points heading into Martinsville (Va.) this weekend.

After testing Monday and Tuesday, Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford) proclaimed that the track conditions for the AAA Texas 500 are perfect and the result should be some tremendously competitive racing for not only the Chase contingent but throughout the 43-car field.

"Next Sunday is going to be a really great race and it's because of that race track," said Edwards, the only three-time Sprint Cup winner in the history of Texas Motor Speedway. "It's because right now, you can drive in the corner, turn that car sideways and either run the very bottom or you can run right up against the fence and the track is taking rubber.

"Whatever is going on with the Goodyear tire and the way that this asphalt at Texas has aged, it's letting the rubber stick to the race track. As it sticks to the race track, that part of the track gets slick so people move up and find different grooves and then when it all gets slicks, it starts over again and everyone goes back to the bottom. This is the type of racing that I like to participate in and I hope the fans enjoy it. That's rare right now with all the new surfaces out there. This is as good as it gets."

Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing had planned to test last week, but weather forced them to reschedule this week. They opened Monday with a test from 3-10 p.m. CT and then joined the session that Richard Childress had scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Several drivers, including Johnson and Kenseth, tested the first two days and departed while teammates will take advantage of the remaining test time and data for the teams. The teams were going to have a combined 22 hours of track time available between Tuesday and Wednesday and 29 overall from the three days.

"Every practice, every lap, everything is magnified," said Harvick, currently 26 points behind Johnson and tied for third with Busch. "Everything is a little bit more on edge with all the guys because everyone knows that everything matters. If you make a mistake, it's magnified a lot more. Being behind the way we are, we need to perform at the highest level and make something happen."

Kenseth, a two-time Cup winner at Texas with his most recent coming in the spring of 2011, and his team were searching for advantages to help improve on his 12th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway.

"Everybody wants to run good when they come here; it's a big race," Kenseth said. "There are five 1.5-mile tracks in the Chase so I think people look at this and look at Homestead and try to spread their test out a little bit."

Unfortunately for Kenseth, he wasn't in the greatest of spirits Tuesday after sustaining a blown right front tire and getting into the wall during his test.

"When you run nine laps and one (tire) blows apart for some reason, that's always a cause for concern, for sure," Kenseth said.

Asked whether his damaged vehicle was the one he plans to race in the AAA Texas 500, Kenseth replied, "No, she's at home safe and ready to get to the track."

Johnson is hoping the test can help his team build on the lead they captured last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. He has been traditionally strong at Texas Motor Speedway as witnessed by his two wins and 15 top-10 finishes, including nine among the top five, in 20 starts, but this test session can only help in extending that success.

"Expect the cars that are here to lead the way on the practice sheets and be towards the top of the qualifying order when all that comes down," said Johnson, the defending AAA Texas 500 champion. "That's all very important stuff, but what I'm really excited about today in the test session is how much the line has moved around the race track. If we have sunny conditions for the race, we'll have a very, very exciting race."

Both Kenseth and Gordon are well aware that Johnson is tough to beat once he grabs the championship lead and Chase drivers have to essentially beat him in each head-to-head match-up over the next four races.

"I realized when we started the Chase, I realized when we started the season and I realized it for years that if you're going to have a shot at the championship, you've got to beat the 48," Kenseth said. "You've got to go out and win races and you've got to figure out how to beat him head-to-head. That's the only way to win a championship. It's been that way for seven or eight years."

Added Gordon: "Those guys (Johnson and his team) are tough. Matt knows that. They've been able to step up this whole season, and now is a crucial time for them. The 48 teams knows how to close and knows how to put the pressure on you and make you ... get discouraged."

Tickets for the AAA Texas 500 race weekend - which also includes the Nov. 1 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino 350 and Nov. 2 NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge - are available by calling the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
Buescher Gets Schooled

Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher will pay a special visit to more than 3,500 local elementary students during race week as he will crown the leaders of Texas Motor Speedway's "Speeding To Read" educational program. Buescher, a native of Plano, Texas, will take part in a special assembly along the frontstretch grandstands next Thursday, beginning at 10:30 a.m. CT, as he will award the Turn 2 leaders as well as conduct a Q&A session with the kindergarten through fifth-grade students from three area school districts. He also will reward the top readers with tickets to next Friday night's WinStar World Casino 350 to watch him compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Buescher will be joined by six of the 11 schools competing in the "Speeding To Read" competition with Haslet Elementary, Schluter Elementary, Sendera Ranch Elementary, Roanoke Elementary, Rayzor Elementary
and Chisholm Ridge Elementary being recognized at the midpoint of the competition as well as the top individuals and classrooms from the other schools competing. The other five schools - Kay Granger, Samuel Beck, Clara Love, Prairie View and Thompson - will be recognized during the Turn 4 assembly during April's Texas 500 NASCAR week.

During Turn 1 of "Speeding To Read," students from the 11 participating schools combined to read 156,655 books. Haslet's Sendera Ranch Elementary had an outstanding 97.1 percent of its 561-person student body meet or reach their reading goals and is the overall school leader of the competition.

The "Speeding To Read" program is in its third year helping to motivate students to read more frequently, both in school and at home. This year, the program expanded from three to 11 elementary schools, reaching more than 6,600 elementary school students across eight North Texas communities. Clara Love (Justin), Kay Granger (Keller), Samuel Beck (Trophy Club), Sendera Ranch (Haslet), Roanoke, J.C. Thompson (Haslet), Prairie View (Rhome), Haslet and Carl E. Schluter (Haslet) comprise the nine schools from the Northwest ISD. They are joined by E.P. Rayzor Elementary School of Lantana (Denton ISD) and Chisholm Ridge Elementary School of Fort Worth (Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD).

"Speeding To Read" is an incentive-based, NASCAR-themed reading program created by Texas Motor Speedway to encourage elementary school students to read more frequently during the school year. The program has the 11 schools split into three divisions (Frontstretch Division, Backstretch Division, Pit Stop Division), each of which is based off enrollment size and student body demographics, to determine the "Speeding To Read" champions for Kindergarten through 2nd grade and Grades 3-5. The competition is split into four quarters - or four turns like a speedway - with the students and schools being rewarded with various racing-related perks at each turn.
Texas-Sized Payout

Texas Motor Speedway's AAA Texas 500 once again will boast the largest purse among the 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the event's largest since 2009. Texas Motor Speedway will award $7,039,782 to the 43 drivers competing in the Nov. 3 AAA Texas 500, an increase of more than $70,000 compared to last year's total of $6,969,209. The purse is the largest since 2009 when the AAA Texas 500 posted a record purse of $7,359,286.

Since 2005, Texas Motor Speedway has played host to the eighth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which annually features the largest purse and largest-attended race of the 10 races in NASCAR's version of the playoffs.

The O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge and WinStar World Casino 350 also will award sizable purses. The O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Nationwide Series race on Saturday, Nov. 2, will award $1,127, 526 while the WinStar World Casino 350 Camping World Truck Series race will award $550,369.
Sign Here

Race fans attending Pinnacle Propane Qualifying Days on Friday, Nov. 1, can score autographs from several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, including former series champion and Texas native Bobby Labonte, during a special autograph session from 5:15-6 p.m. CT at the "Big Hoss TV" display outside Gate 4.

Labonte will be joined by Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship contender Ryan Newman, Michael Waltrip Racing's Martin Truex Jr., and Tommy Baldwin Racing's Dave Blaney for the autograph session that is free and open to the public.
Last Lap

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, will make his first appearance in the Nationwide Series this season when he competes Saturday, Nov. 2, in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway. Stenhouse Jr., a previous Nationwide Series winner at Texas Motor Speedway with a victory in the 2012 O'Reilly Auto Parts 300, will pilot the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing entry for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. ... The AAA Texas 500 will serve as the Sprint Cup Series debut for Nationwide Series driver Parker Kligerman. Kligerman will drive the No. 30 entry for Swan Racing in the AAA Texas 500 as well as compete in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Nationwide Series race in the No. 77 for Kyle Busch Motorsports. ... Stage-side access for the Ricky Bobby Sports Saloon and Restaurant Pre-Race Show featuring O.A.R. is as simple as purchasing a $79 pre-race pass. The pass allows fans to get close to the musical entertainment and pre-race drivers introductions. A pre-race pass must be accompanied by a AAA Texas 500 grandstand ticket.

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