Previewing the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway

By Nick DeGroot On Thu, Apr. 11, 2013

nra500

NASCAR is getting ready for Race #7 on the schedule located at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Will things finally settle down this weekend? I think so considering it is a large track with lots of room to race but you don’t have to look any further than the 2013 Auto Club 400 if you want a shoot a gaping hole in that theory. It seems like this year anything can and will happen. We’ve had Danica Patrick on pole for the Daytona 500, Tony Stewart going after Joey Logano, crews pushing and shoving, Edwards back in victory lane, Dale Jr. leading the standings, the race leaders taking each other out for the win, Denny Hamlin refusing to pay a fine and now having to sit out a few races due to a compression fracture in his lower back! Yea, you could say it’s been a wild season so far and we are only six races in by the way.

The Gen-6 has proven it is a great car even after it raised a lot of concern following the rather lackluster Daytona 500 we had. It put on a great show at both Las Vegas and Fontana which were the targeted track layouts when designing this new car. They put a lot of emphasis on improving racing at intermediate tracks which I believe they have accomplished with flying colors. Not only did we have great finishes at both Vegas and Cali but we also set the record for most green flag passes at one while tying the record at the other.

The next challenge for the Generation 6 is the night race at Texas Motor Speedway which is a track that is notorious for having things get wild and out of control very quickly. That’s kind of following the theme for us in 2013 so I guess it’s a great time to be heading to TMS! You can expect record speeds posted at this already blistering fast track which will really jack up the intensity as we get ready for the first Saturday night race of the season. Things always seem to get a little crazier at these NASCAR races every time the lights get turned on.

It’s time to look at who the favorites are to take the win this weekend and which drivers should be worried about this race. Here are some stats that I’ll let you sink your teeth into before I give my opinion…

Texas Motor Speedway Track Facts

Track Size: 1.5-miles

Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 24 degrees

Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 24 degrees

Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees

Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees

Frontstretch Length:  2,250 feet

Backstretch Length:  1,330 feet

Race Length: 334 laps / 500 miles

 

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Texas

(Compiled from TMS races from 2005-2012)

1.) Matt Kenseth———–106.6

2.) Jimmie Johnson——-103.5

3.) Greg Biffle—————103.4

4.) Tony Stewart———–101.4

5.) Kyle Busch————–98.7

6.) Carl Edwards———–98.3

7.) Denny Hamlin———93.3

8.) Dale Earnhardt Jr—–92.7

9.)Clint Bowyer———–92.5

10.)Jeff Gordon———–91.9

 

Most Top 5’s at Texas Among Active Drivers

1.) Matt Kenseth———12

2.) Jimmie Johnson—-9

3.) Mark Martin———8

4.) Jeff Gordon———-8

5.) Greg Biffle————-7

6.) Tony Stewart——–6

7.) Carl Edwards——–5

8.) Denny Hamlin——-5

9.) Kyle Busch————5

10.) Kasey Kahne——-4

 

Most Top 10’s at Texas Among Active Drivers

1.) Matt Kenseth———–15

2.) Jimmie Johnson——14

3.) Mark Martin———–13

4.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.—12

5.) Kurt Busch————-12

6.) Tony Stewart———12

7.) Jeff Gordon———–11

8.) Greg Biffle————-11

9.) Kevin Harvick——-10

10.) Jeff Burton———–9

 

Best Average Finishes Among Active Drivers

1.) Matt Kenseth————-8.3

2.) Jimmie Johnson ——–9.3

3.) Denny Hamlin———–10.9

4.) Kevin Harvick———–12.5

5.) Tony Stewart————12.7

6.) Clint Bowyer————12.8

7.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.—-13.6

8.) Mark Martin————13.9

9.) Kurt Busch————–14.1

10.) Kyle Busch————14.9

 

Most Laps Led Among Active Drivers

1.) Matt Kenseth————-772

2.) Greg Biffle—————-732

3.) Tony Stewart————727

4.) Jeff Gordon————–584

5.) Kyle Busch————–521

6.) Carl Edwards———–493

7.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.—-448

8.) Jimmie Johnson——443

9.) Kurt Busch————-235

10.) Kasey Kahne——–218

 

Victories at Texas Motor Speedway

– Jeff Burton won the first ever NSCS race at Texas back in 1997 beating pole sitter, Dale Jarrett by 4.067 seconds in a Ford 1-2 finish; Bobby Labonte was 3rd

– Carl Edwards holds the record for the most victories among active drivers with 3 (2005, 2008, 2008)

– Six active drivers have won at Texas a total of two times (Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton Denny Hamlin)

– Six active drivers have won at Texas once (Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton)

– Bobby Labonte, Joe Nemechek, Dave Blaney and Kevin Harvick are the only active drivers to run over 20 races at Texas but have yet to win a race there

– 11 of the 24 races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won by Ford drivers (Chevrolet has 8, Dodge 3 and Toyota 2)

– Twice has a race at Texas been won from the pole, 15 times from the top 5, 18 times from the top 10, twice from positions 11th-20th, and 4 times from 21st or worse

– 31st is the farthest back a winner has come from at Texas (Matt Kenseth in Spring, 2002)

 

Texas Motor Speedway Race & Caution Stats

– 8 is the average number of cautions at Texas Motor Speedway

– 2 is the least amount of cautions in TMS history (Spring, 2012) while 12 is the most (Spring, 2000; Fall, 2006; Fall, 2007)

– There has been a caution within the final 10 laps 5 times in the track’s 24 race history

– Three times the race has gone beyond its scheduled distance due to a Green-White-Checker

– In 24 NSCS races, Texas Motor Speedway has never had a shortened race

 

After looking all this over, you can see that Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth look like the favorites to win this race and if you don’t go with those two, you probably want to keep your pick in the Roush stable with the dominance and power Ford has shown here. This race doesn’t usually feature many cautions so that means teams won’t get many opportunities to adjust an ill handling race car so keep that in mind. You need a driver that can adapt to the changing track conditions and can carry the car when he needs to. 5-time and 2x Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth both fit that description very well.

Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle are both threats every time we show up to Texas so they would be good choices as well. Another driver to keep an eye on but doesn’t drive for the blue oval is Dale Earnhardt Jr. He scored his first ever NSCS win at Texas back in 2000 and has always been solid here. If you want to look at a driver that has never won at Texas but may be a good pick then Kyle Busch is your man. He has made the highlight reel at Texas A LOT in recent years but for all the wrong reasons. Taking out a title contender under caution, getting parked by NASCAR, flipping the bird at a NASCAR official and getting told to shut up by your crew chief while you were preaching your constitutional rights over the radio isn’t exactly what you want to be remembered for.

Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Brian Vickers and Paul Menard are drivers that have struggled here in the past and you may want to stay away from. All of them have an average finish worse than 20th and although Ryan has won at Texas, that was 10 years ago. Since that victory, he has posted seven finishes of 20th or worse. Menard has one bright spot in his TMS career which was a 5th back in 2011 but besides that, he has ran mostly mid-pack. Joey has finished 19th or worse in seven of his nine Texas Motor Speedway starts but I would be careful here. Logano seems much stronger in 2013 and may actually run very well. He has contended for the win in two of his last three races which is an awesome accomplishment for him as he tries to prove he deserves respect from his fellow racers. He needs to start bringing this winning cars back home in one piece though. Vickers will be filling in for Denny Hamlin in the #11 car and like Logano, be careful just writing this guy off because of his history. He has changed and is running for a top tier team now. Brian’s finishes at Texas have been far less than spectacular posting results around 20th or 25th most of the time with the occasional bright spot and a pole but that’s it.

With the Gen-6 making its night race debut and how wild the 2013 season has been, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Logano or Vickers pulling into victory lane this weekend. I expect this race to be a very interesting with a lot of passing, blistering speeds and not much wrecking until we get late into the event. You will probably see a bunch of comers and goers as well. I think Jimmie Johnson will continue to show some muscle but win #3 of the year won’t come this weekend. I see one of the Roush or Gibbs drivers taking the victory Saturday night and more specifically Matt Kenseth or Carl Edwards. I hope you enjoyed and feel free to post any comments you have below!

Nick DeGroot (88 Posts)

Nick has left Speedway Media and joined Motorsport.com as a manager, content editor, and reporter. His passion for motorsports dates all the way back to his childhood. He's a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association, & before joining Motorsport.com, he worked with National Speed Sport News, Pole Position Magazine, and of course, Speedway Media. You can also hear him on "That Dang 'Ol Racing Show" every Monday night. Nick was born & raised in Syracuse, NY before recently moving to Miami. His entire life revolves around racing and it should, because it's in his blood. His father is a former tire changer/mechanic at the Sprint Cup level and his older brother spent a short tenure with RCR. Another interesting fact about Nick is that although he was raised in Yankee territory, his cousin is the former catcher/captain and current special assistant to the general manager of the Boston Red Sox....Jason Varitek.


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