The NASCAR Cup Series heads into the ninth points paying race of the season at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon, but not without opinions. 

After two lackluster short track events at Richmond and Martinsville, it’s a bit of fresh air knowing that the series is heading towards a 1.5 mile race for the second time this season. 

But the problem is, it’s Texas…

A track known for its lack of passing since the repave in 2017, Texas Motor Speedway has caught a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons in the past couple of years. So what is the thought heading into 400 miles in Texas? Here are some thoughts on what the drivers are thinking about. 

Ryan Preece: 

“To me, it’s a little bit cooler temperature wise than normal at Texas, so I’m not really sure what to think. I think the biggest thing that we’ve all learned and we keep talking about is just qualifying really well and keeping track. I think there’s definitely a driving line. Last year, they didn’t put resin down and the higher and higher you get, sometimes there’s still a little bit of it left. But when you end up in the part where there’s not enough grip for the expectations you have going into that corner, that’s when it becomes a problem.”

Carson Hocevar: 

“It’s just business as usual and just knowing what we’re up against. Obviously, you’re not going to be one who wants to land in the top from the start and early through the day. I feel like we have a good idea on what we need to do. Me and Luke (Lambert, the crew chief for the No. 77) ran really well here in the fall. I felt like I took some notes off of that and applied it to the spring and obviously I feel confident in being here. We were in fourth and ran a pretty solid Cup race in the fall, so I’m excited for what we can put together here hopefully.”

Noah Gragson: 

“Just throttle time and to get a car to wrap and get off. I’ve spent a lot of time on the simulator this week and just spent a lot of time with the SMT. The last time I ran here, the paths used to have the grip strip on the top lane that you’ve run through once it becomes a little more dominant throughout the day. Now they haven’t done that in the last few years, but it did come in a little bit last year. Probably will take half the race this year for it to come in. We’ll see how it works. I assume we will be right around the bottom on both sides and then one or two lanes in the race later in the day.”

Michael McDowell:

“You know, I think for each team a driver is probably different. But for me, this was a really strong track last year, and it has been for the last couple of years. It’s an opportunity for us to go and run well and score a lot of points. It’s just about execution. It’s challenging to pass and pretty treacherous as far as just being on the limit that you are, so you have to qualify well.”

Kyle Larson: 

“I don’t know. I mean honestly it’s not the greatest track, but our cars were really good here. We’ve actually been able to pass and get to the front, so yeah I’m confident that we’ll be good again and hopefully we can get to the front at some point.” 

Todd Gilliand: 

“I think there’s two ways to look at it. It’s just a very challenging racetrack. I think that’s the biggest thing. A lot of times it’s hard to pass because it’s only one lane, but also sometimes that’s what kind of creates the excitement. You have to take that chance that’s given to you and be really aggressive. We’ve seen some very chaotic races here. I think there’s a fine line of one lane versus at some point it creates a bit of excitement. We’ll see how this one shakes out.”

Erik Jones: 

“I know it gets a lot of heat from people, but I watched the Truck and I think that I was pretty entertained. I think it gets a bit overblown at times. I think you look at the Fall race here last year, and the end is pretty exciting. So yeah, I think the hate for Texas Motor Speedway is a bit overblown at times.”

Denny Hamlin: 

“You have to be patient. You can’t let it get to you mentally that when you can’t pass a car. I mean, I had it. In practice, I got stuck on Corey LaJoie while I was running down really quick and just got stuck buried behind him, but it was before the second groove had come in and it will come in tomorrow. It’s just kind of frustrating at the moment. It’s like, ‘Well in the race, I’ll be able to get it,’ so at least it’s at least a two lane racetrack. It’s not the 12 lanes that they have here, but it’ll widen out enough to where if your cars are pretty good, you’ll go. The cream is gonna rise to the top tomorrow, that’s for sure.”

Chris Buescher: 

“You gotta pay attention to where you’re on track, because it is narrow. Lap traffic can get tricky. Just setting up for the pass and dealing with dirty air, which is going to be tricky at any of the faster racetracks. Dirty air is going to be in the conversation; that is never going away, I promise. No matter how much stuff we change, we will fight dirty air, and that’s okay. We just need the racetrack to be able to find something a little bit cleaner. That’s just what we’re hoping to get here in Texas in a shorter period of time. So with that, yeah, you have to get a plan a little bit farther ahead.”

Kaleb Vestal
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