The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series saddles up and heads to the Dallas-Forth Worth area to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway for the Duck Commander 500, round seven of 36. 40 drivers will jockey for the 40 available spots. This will be the first night race of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season. The Sprint Cup Series will be accompanied by the NASCAR Xfinity Series, which races on Friday evening.
Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile intermediate speedway, located in Fort Worth, Texas, just north of the Dallas area. The minimum width of the speedway is 58 feet long. The turns have a 750-foot radius. The turns are banked at 24 degrees, and five degrees on the straightaways. The double-dog leg frontstretch is 2,250 feet long, and the backstretch is 1,330 feet long. The track surface of Texas Motor Speedway has not been touched since construction was completed in 1997, making it one of the oldest racing surfaces on the NASCAR circuit.
The Duck Commander 500 will be the 31st race at Texas Motor Speedway. 22 drivers have won poles at Texas. 18 drivers have won at Texas. In 2014, Joey Logano, driver of the no. 22 Team Penske Ford, became the youngest winner at Texas at the age of 23. In 2013, Kyle Busch became only the third driver to win a race at Texas from the pole position. Greg Biffle holds the race record set in 2012 at a speed of 160.577 mph. Tony Stewart holds the qualifying record set in October 2015 at a speed of 200.111 mph.
Last year’s race at Texas Motor Speedway experienced 15 lead changes among eight drivers. The caution flag flew nine times for a total of 47 laps. 18 cars finished on the lead lap, while 39 cars were still running at the time the checkered flew. The winner of the race only led six laps. The margin of victory was 1.082 seconds.
Jimmie Johnson has the chance to win four straight races at Texas on Saturday night. Johnson has won five of the last seven races held in the Lone-Star State. At this point in the 2016 season, Johnson has two wins (Atlanta and Auto Club).
Kyle Busch, last week’s winner at Martinsville, explains his approach to Texas Motor Speedway, in a press release. “Texas is a really fast mile-and-a-half racetrack. Charlotte has been fast the last few years and Texas has always kind of been that way. The asphalt is getting a little bit older but, for as old as the asphalt is, it’s still really fast for a few laps and it’s still kind of a pain, sometimes, because it is so aero-dependent that, when you do run the bottom, it’s hard to pass. You’ve got to be able to move around a little bit and run the middle, run the top and show some ability to go all over the racetrack. We’re getting closer each and every time, it feels like. Sometimes not so much – you kind of go forward and then you go backward and then you kind of come back forward some. Hopefully, Texas will be good to us this time around, also, and we can get a win with our Interstate Batteries Camry like at Fontana.”
Ryan Blaney, driver of the no. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, and his crew chief, Jeremy Bullins are excited to head to tracks they have raced on. “Looking ahead to Texas, Kansas, Bristol and Talladega, all tracks we raced at in 2015, we feel like we will make big gains and have strong runs with the experience we are taking into those events,” Bullins said. “When you combine that with our steady performances at first-time events I'm proud of how solid our team has been.”
Coming off a strong finish at Martinsville, Austin Dillon, driver of the no. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, explains why he loves racing at Texas. "Texas Motor Speedway is faster now. It's fast, it's rough, and the groove does widen out quite a bit there now. I think it's starting to move around there a little bit more. It's just a fun racetrack to go to for me. I love that area of Texas, and everything that it represents, and the speed of the track, mostly."
Sprint Cup Series teams will be allotted five sets of Goodyear tires for practice and qualifying, and 12 sets will be given for the race. The left side and right side tire codes will be used for the first time for Cup teams. Teams will now be allowed to carry one set of sticker tires from practice and qualifying to the race.
The Duck Commander 500 will begin at 7:30 pm EST time on FOX. Performance Racing Network will have the radio coverage beginning at 6:30 pm EST. Action from the Texas Motor Speedway will begin on Thursday, April 7th, at 5:30 PM on Fox Sports 1 for the first of two practice sessions.
Thursday, April 7
5:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1
Friday, April 8
2:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1
6:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, FS1
Saturday, April 9
6 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS2
7 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FOX Pre-Race Show, FOX
7:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Duck Commander 500, FOX
12:30 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
FORT WORTH, TEXAS (January 16, 2015) - So what do you bestow upon an iconic motorsports figure like A.J. Foyt for his milestone 80th birthday? Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage found something that the legendary Foyt may enjoy a guffaw from the "gift."
"Ever since 1997, I've been trying to get back the True Value 500k winner's trophy from A.J. since Arie Luyendyk was named the rightful winner of that controversial Indy Racing League race," Gossage said.
"What better gift than acknowledge that it is his to keep now and forever and I will no longer badger him about giving it back. All I ask is that he puts a bow on it and changes the nameplate to "'Happy 80th A.J. - Keep Up The Good Fight!'"
For those unfamiliar with the 1997 True Value 500k, it was the first Indy-car race at Texas Motor Speedway during its inaugural season that ended in a cloud of controversy over the correct race winner. Billy Boat, a rookie driver for A.J. Foyt Racing, crossed the finish line first and initially was declared the winner. While Boat, Foyt and the team were celebrating in Victory Lane, an upset and vocal Luyendyk entered to contest the victory. Foyt took offense to Luyendyk crashing the party and delivered "The Slap Heard Around The World." (Click here for video.)
Luyendyk, however, won his protest the next day as USAC cited malfunctioning timing and scoring equipment and credited him with leading the final 19 laps en route to the victory. But the original True Value 500k trophy was long gone as Foyt packed it in his car as he and his wife, Lucy, headed to their lake house in Austin following the race.
"Let me start out by saying that we did win the first Indy-car race at Texas Motor Speedway," Foyt recounted in Texas Motor Speedway's 10 Years Strong book that commemorated the top moments of the speedway's first decade of existence. "There is no doubt in my mind about that. Billy Boat took the checkered flag before thousands of fans on a hot Saturday night. And I'll tell you one more thing. If the race had been run by officials of the current Indy Racing League or NASCAR, the record books would show that Billy Boat won that race. Instead, the records say that Arie Luyendyk won.
"Oh and by the way, Billy won the race at Texas Motor Speedway the next year too. And we have the trophies sitting side by side."
Luyendyk received a replica of the original True Value 500k trophy, but Gossage reminded Foyt every time he saw him that he wanted that trophy back.
"A.J. would grumble at me and tell me to come down there and take it from him," Gossage said. "Even to this day, he has been so passionate that Billy won that race that the trophy is officially his to keep. Everyone at Texas Motor Speedway wishes A.J. a great 80th and a speedy recovery from his triple bypass heart surgery."
Via TMS PR.
It might feel like 2012 all over again. That doesn’t sound right, does it? How could that be? Time is just an illusion after all.
In a world in which cars are life comes one man who has prospered with a team that people could only dream about being a part of. Driving for Roger Penske, one of the most successful men in all of racing, this man has blossomed into a championship caliber driver year-in and year-out.
Brad Keselowski made an incredible run at the finish of the Geico 500 at Talladega to win the race and lock himself into the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But he has been under a lot of heat for the post-race drama created at Charlotte with Tony Stewart and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.
In the midst of all the chaos, Keselowski has now re-emerged as a championship favorite.
“It all kind of matters where we go from here with it, but certainly very proud of this past Sunday’s win,” Keselowski said in a press conference at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday. We’ve got four critical races in front of us. We’re probably going to need to win at least one of them and our heads down and focused, certainly coming here to Texas in about a week and a half to start that race weekend.”
Keselowski leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with six victories in 2014. His Team Penske teammate Joey Logano trails him by just one as the two have become a force to be reckon with on a weekly basis.
He might not be making friends in the process of winning all of these races, but it is what is rare about the 30-year-old driver. Remember, at the beginning of his career, Keselowski was racing for his family-run organization in the Camping World Truck Series. He struggled to find sponsorship, but a few decent runs helped him land a job for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s Nationwide Series team.
When Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. missed the race at Talladega, most people didn’t realize that some of the sport’s top drivers have not qualifying for a Sprint Cup Series event at one time or another. Jimmie Johnson even DNQ’d for a Nationwide Series race in 2000. Keselowski has missed a pair of events in the Nationwide Series and Truck Series, including one in 2012. But what might shock most people is that he’s missed three Cup Series events, and even did so while driving for Hendrick Motorsports at Dover in 2009.
That experience has made Keselowski the intimidating force that we now know.
“This season, and this point in time and probably throughout my career, it’s going to be racing as hard as I can race with a passion for winning,” Keselowski said on his demeanor. “It’s probably going to ruffle some feathers of people that have been in the sport longer than I have and kind of feel like this is their territory, but the alternative option of rolling over and playing dead just isn’t in my DNA and I don’t plan on ever allowing it to be.”
With a handful of races left in the season and Keselowski being on probation for a few more weeks, he’s going to be gunning for wins just as hard as ever. The intimidation factor that he brings to the sport on and off the track is one that has been missing for quite some time. There have been drivers that have intimidation in one of these two areas, yet Keselowski’s rare personality has helped breed him into a driver that is on the brink of winning his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
“Maybe sometimes I articulate it better than others, but I feel like I’m here to do one job and that’s to win races for my team. I’m not looking to make enemies, but certainly, priority number one is not making friends.”
Running on little sleep and a lot of adrenaline, newly crowned Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was still soaking in the excitement from his historic victory. Hunter-Reay, joined by wife Beccy and toddler son Ryden, were treated to a champion’s welcome during their cross-country tour that featured a stop at the iconic Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant in the historic Stockyards section of Fort Worth.
Serenaded by the colorful five-person group of Mariachi Real de Alvarez, Hunter-Reay arrived with the traditional Borg-Warner winner’s wreath from the Indianapolis 500 and joined Texas Motor Speedway season-ticket holders, sponsors, Speedway Club members and media for a special luncheon to celebrate his win. Hunter-Reay, who was born in the city of Dallas, was excited to celebrate his victory where his roots all started before a crowd of more than 200.
“It’s certainly great to be back in Texas,” Hunter-Reay said. “I was born here so I definitely carry the Texas flag as much as I can. It’s great to be here coming off the biggest weekend of our lives. It’s definitely a dream come true.”
Hunter-Reay, who currently resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was anointed an official “Texan” for the afternoon as Fort Worth Mayor Pro Tem W.B. ‘Zim’ Zimmerman made him an honorary Fort Worth resident. Zimmerman presented Hunter-Reay with a silver cowboy boot, Fort Worth bandana and traditional Fort Worth molly lapel pin.
Zimmerman was not the only one in attendance showing their admiration for Hunter-Reay’s victory in the Indianapolis 500 as he edged three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves by .06 of a second in the second-closest finish in the history of the storied event. The victory also allowed him to become the first American driver to win the Indy 500 since Same Hornish Jr. in 2006.
Guests in attendance joined in a special celebratory toast with milk – the beverage of choice for the winner of the Indianapolis 500. The luncheon also included a Texas-style celebration as Hunter-Reay – long wanting to fire the traditional six-shooters given to the Firestone 600 winner in Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway – had the opportunity to finally pull the triggers in celebration at the luncheon. Hunter-Reay, an avid gun collector, wants to truly lay claim to a pair of six-shooters following the Firestone 600 next Saturday night, June 7.
“I haven’t won at Texas Motor Speedway yet and I desperately want to do that,” Hunter-Reay said. “I want to fire those pistols. There’s no victory celebration quite like that and I remember when we finished second last year here to Helio (Castroneves). When you’re climbing out of the car and your walking back to your transporter a bit dejected and you hear those pistols go off, it’s like salt on the wounds. That’s next most-important on my list.”
The Firestone 600, formerly the Firestone 550, has been rebranded since the race will have an additional 20 laps to push the race total to 248. An additional 20 laps would have come in handy for Hunter-Reay in his attempt to catch Castroneves during the final laps in last year’s race as he finished runner-up to the Brazilian.
“The good news is we have extended the race,” Hunter-Reay said with a chuckle about trying to catch Castroneves during the final laps of last year’s race. “Play the cards the same way, I’ll just pass Helio (Castroneves) on the last lap and make for another exciting finish.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series held a Firestone tire test in April with 18 drivers participating and the information gathered from the test session along with the race from last year has provided an ideal setup for the drivers when they return to Texas Motor Speedway for next week’s Firestone 600.
The Dallara DW12 chassis – named after the late two-time Indianapolis 500 champion and 2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon – was introduced to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012. For Hunter-Reay, the new chassis has made for great racing at Texas Motor Speedway and should be further enhanced with the aero package that will be utilized for next week’s Firestone 600.
“There have been so many INDYCAR races here (Texas Motor Speedway) and it always produces great racing,” Hunter-Reay said. “This year with the aero package that we’re coming back with, I think it’s going to be some of the most intense racing we’ve ever seen here.
“With the new downforce rules that we’re coming back with, we’re adding a little bit more downforce than we had last year. Last year it strung out a little bit because the downforce package we had was pretty skimpy. Now we’re coming back with more downforce. It’ll tighten the cars up a little bit more, it will bring them together. I’m not going to say completely a total pack race, but it’ll be much closer racing.”
The racing at Texas Motor Speedway is only part of what Hunter-Reay is looking forward to seeing during the Firestone 600 weekend. “Big Hoss TV” will make its INDYCAR weekend debut, allowing drivers to see themselves on the world’s largest high-definition LED video board under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I can’t wait to see the big screen,” Hunter-Reay said. “I might actually buy an apartment there just so I can sit and watch that thing. That is amazing. Good job to you guys for making that track bigger and better than it already was. It was already one of the top in the world. It’s definitely next (to win) on my list.”
Tickets for the Firestone 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race – “America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Race” – are available by contacting the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.