A New Sheriff In Texas
"Well, it was a really good effort. You know, Adam Stevens and all these guys, they come here well-prepared to start with, and had a good practice plan and everything, and we were able to set up our race car to my liking. Wasn't necessarily the fastest qualifier, but we knew we had a good race car, and the things that we did kind of worried me actually for about the first two-thirds of the race, just not -- the track wasn't necessarily coming to us, but then all of a sudden it took a shift and things did come to us, and we had a really good car there at the end. Adam made awesome adjustments all night long, though, and kept us in the game and kept getting us better and took us from probably being a sixth-, eighth-place car, something like that, to then being able to run up front in the top three, and barring different tire circumstances or different restart circumstances at the end, giving us a shot to win," said Kyle Busch in post-race media availability.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who scored his sixth top-five finish at Texas Motor Speedway, talked about his night. “Well, we had a great car. We didn't really know we had that good a car, but when the race started, we were real tight. We made some good adjustments to get the car handling well, and then really controlled the balance of the car the rest of the night with the track bar. We had about a second- or third-place car. Kyle put it on them at the end. He ran as hard as he could, and his car was there for him. Sucks for Martin because he had such a great car, but Martin has just got to remember that he's going to get that opportunity again. They've got a great team. That's it.”
Joe Gibbs Racing teams, including their affiliation with Furniture Row Racing and Martin Truex Jr., led an overwhelming total of 247 out of 334 laps in the Duck Commander 500. Hendrick Motorsports had all four of its team’s finished in the top-10 at Texas Motor Speedway, its first since this race last year.
Chase Elliott, the highest finishing rookie, talked about his first race at Texas in the Cup Series. “It was a solid night. Obviously I hated to have to start in the back, but I think having a good qualifying effort allowed us to get a good pit selection. I think that helped us to try to gain spots throughout the night, but the biggest thing was just having a good car. I was really happy with it, especially on the long run, and we made some gains throughout the night to try to help our short run speed. I thought we did that. Definitely still have some work to do on my end, and we'll keep digging at it. We're definitely not content. We know we have some work to do, and we'd like to be contenders. So we're going to keep working at it.”
There were no issues in post-race inspection. NASCAR is taking the cars of Ky. Busch and Earnhardt Jr. back to the R&D Center in Charlotte.
Unofficially, Kyle Busch leads Jimmie Johnson by six points in the championship standings, followed by Kevin Harvick (-7), Carl Edwards (-18), and Joey Logano (-25).
The start of the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway was delayed by 1 hour and 50 minutes, and started under a green/yellow situation. The race saw 17 lead changes among eight different drivers. The caution flag flew seven times for a total of 41 laps. 16 cars finished on the lead lap. The time of the race was 3 hours, 37 minutes, and 16 seconds.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will head to the “The Last Great Coliseum”, the .533 mile, Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500. Action from Bristol Motor Speedway will begin on Friday, April 15th, at 11:00 am EST for the first practice on Fox Sports 1.
A win was in clear sight for Martin Truex, Jr. on Saturday night in Texas, but it all slipped away in the last stint of the 500-mile event. The No. 78 car came home sixth.
After leading 141 laps in the Lone Star State, Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn had a decision to make with roughly 45 laps to go when a late race caution came out when Greg Biffle got into the outside wall.
Truex and Austin Dillon were the only drivers to stay out, while the remaining 13 teams pitted for four fresh tires. Kyle Busch led the race off pit road.
On the restart Truex pulled away as Dillon faded back, and two laps later got spun, triggering a 13 car pileup on the backstretch.
For the second consecutive caution the No. 78 team decided not to pit, resulting in the oldest tires throughout the entire field.
The final restart came with 33 laps to go as Busch restarted on the outside of Truex and cleared him out of Turn One, driving away to his second consecutive Cup Series triumph.
“It was Cole’s call,” Truex said of the decision not to pit. “Our plan was to stay out and he called me in at the last second and I didn’t want to hit the cone. Had we went green the next restart we would have been okay. We kept getting caution laps and the tires would get more air in them, by the time we finally got rolling there we didn’t have the grip that everyone else had. ”
For the second time in the last four spring races at Texas Truex led the most laps, coming home on the short end of the stick. This particular racecar was hooked up on the long runs, where he would recapture the lead time after time.
Throughout the weekend it became clear that tires would be at a premium for every team. There was fall off up to three seconds in a given green flag run and in the end it cost the Furniture Row Racing team a shot at its first victory of 2016.
“It’s frustrating but that’s racing,” Truex said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. Proud of my guys for the racecar they brought. That thing was so fast all night and we did everything that we were supposed to do except for that one deal there. It hurts. It’s tough, but we’ve got a lot to look forward to this year.”
The sixth-place finish snapped a skid of four straight finishes outside of the top 10. Though this is going to be a tough one to swallow, Joe Gibbs Racing has won three of the seven races this season and the No. 78 car is basically a fifth JGR car.
Edwards Lassos Texas Pole
Carl Edwards lassos his first pole of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with a pole at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway with a speed of 194.609 mph. Joey Logano will start second followed by Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. This was Edwards second pole at Texas Motor Speedway in 23 starts at the track, and his 17th pole in his racing career.
“I don’t know if there was any benefit (going out first each session), but that was our plan, to go out first. Fortunately, my car is very fast. This is huge deal for us to get our first pole of the year. That car is great and we’re having a great time,” Edwards said, It feels like this downforce package lets me go in the corner and really get a feel of the tire. Hopefully, the race goes just as well.”
Joey Logano, who qualified in a tie with Martin Truex Jr., but won the tiebreaker, was pumped about the no. 22 Team Penske Ford’s qualifying effort. “Overall, proud of the effort. I felt like, going asleep last night, that we could quite possibly be on the pole today. We came close. Every round we were definitely pretty fast. We were really good in one and two the first two rounds, three and four, we lost quite a bit of speed to the 19.”
Texas Motor Speedway was sitting in the sun all day. When the first round of qualifying began, many drivers decided to take to the track at once in order to get a fast speed. According to team radio communications, Jimmie Johnson told his team that they are on a completely different racetrack compared to the first practice session the night before. Debris stopped the countdown clock with eight and a half minutes remaining for what appeared to be a scoring transponder. This allowed for teams to have more time to cool down their engines. Harvick barely made it into the second round by three one thousandths of a second. Brian Vickers was the fastest in this round with a speed of 196.015 mph. A few notables missing the cut for round two were Paul Menard (25), Danica Patrick (26), and Clint Bowyer (36).
According to the Fox Sports 1 broadcast, the track temperature cooled down nearly 15 degrees. Carl Edwards won the second round with a speed of 195.214 mph. Trevor Bayne was the driver on the bubble, but was able advance to third round. Many notable drivers missed the third round: Brian Vickers (13), Kyle Busch (15), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (16), and Kevin Harvick (22). Notable drivers who advanced were Ryan Blaney (5), Chase Elliott (7), and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (10).
Busch Sweeps at Martinsville
Kyle Busch wins the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway for his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at the 0.526-mile oval. He also swept the weekend at Martinsville by winning the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 the day prior. Busch is the first driver to ever sweep a weekend at Martinsville. AJ Allmendinger finished second, followed by Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, and Brad Keselowski. Busch was able to lead 352 of the 500 laps in the STP 500.
Busch’s win at Martinsville leaves him with only three more tracks to win at in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He now has to win at Pocono, Kansas, and Charlotte. Today’s win was his 35th win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Busch also has led the most laps at Martinsville since Bobby Hamilton led 378 laps in 1998.
Busch was excited about the win and the car his team brought to Martinsville. “It was a really good car, obviously with practice and everything and learning some things about the car and the track yesterday, we were able to have a really good piece, and we knew that, understood that, and then we were able to come out here today and put it all together and have a really good piece all throughout the race, as well. Leading as many laps as we did, that was really good for us. It was a confidence boost for me as well, too, just being up front that much. I've never really felt like I've had a car to be able to do that in years past, but Adam and the guys were able to give that to me this time around. So pumped about the things that I learned here this weekend, let alone the years past or years prior that I was able to learn, and of course my teammates that helped me out a lot here over the years, so to be able to finally put it all together is pretty cool, and take home not one but two Martinsville trophies, Martinsville clocks is pretty awesome.”
Adam Stevens, crew chief for Kyle Busch, talked about what this win means to him and the team. “You know, this is a big win for myself, for Kyle and this whole team. It hasn't been one of our strongest places, maybe for JGR, but not for myself and Kyle historically. I think we made some good ground last year with David Ragan's help in the spring and Kyle coming back in the fall, and I think his level of feedback really picked up as he really understood what he needed in his car, and that helped us as a team make better adjustments, and continuing through the race today, I think we got him dialed in a little bit better than he has been able to in the past because he could really identify what he was looking for.
Second place finisher, AJ Allmendinger, was pumped about where his team is at and his finish at Martinsville. “You know, Randall Burnett, first-year crew chief, Ernie Cope coming aboard, they've made a huge difference. My crew chief last year, Brian Burns, kind of going down back to his engineering role and Tony Palmer, that was the engineer last year, being kind of the second race engineer, everybody has just embraced their roles. It's made this team a lot of fun to be around, Tad and Jodi Geschickter, they've really put that extra effort into the race team this year to get the personnel. Anybody that saw our car, obviously get the sponsors, as well, and pit crew really stepped up. The last two weeks they've been awesome. Just a solid race.”
Third place finisher, Kyle Larson, who has had a dismal season so far, was excited to get his first top-five at Martinsville. “I was able to do double duty this week, and I think that definitely helped me get my rhythm early in the weekend and better myself each time I was on the track. Our car was way better than it has been here in the past. I felt like I learned a lot throughout that race. I was able to run behind great drivers here, AJ, Jimmie, Kevin, Kurt, Keselowski, there was a lot of people that I could learn off of. You know, this was -- in the past it's been my worst racetrack on the schedule, so to get a top-three finish here feels great, feels like a win to be honest, and hopefully this is a good momentum shift that we need. We've been struggling all year long so far and been working hard, but it hasn't paid off. It's nice to, like I said, be on the podium here and go on to Texas, a track where I've ran good in the past at and hopefully get a solid finish there, also.”
There were many drivers who were not expected to be towards the top of the leaderboard. Brian Vickers, subbing for the injured Tony Stewart, finished in the seventh position. Paul Menard finished in the eighth position. Although he is usually strong at Martinsville, Denny Hamlin will be credited with a 39th place finish due to an accident.
The STP 500 saw an average speed of 88.088 mph. There were 11 lead changes among five different drivers. The time of the race was 3 hours, 17 minutes, and 2 seconds. The caution flag flew eight times for 51 laps. The margin of victory was .663 seconds.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Texas Motor Speedway for the Duck Commander 500, the first Saturday night race of the season. Coverage for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas will begin at 5:30 pm on Thursday, April 7th on Fox Sports 1.
Suarez Edges Teammates For Pole
A cool speedway covered in the morning fog was a major factor in NASCAR Xfinity Series Qualifying for the TreatMyClot.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway. Daniel Suarez wins the pole with a speed of 179.955 mph.
Single-Car runs were used during the qualifying session. This is mandated by NASCAR so drivers do not wait until the last minute to get the draft. For the Xfinity Series, single-car runs will be used at tracks two miles and over.
As the first round of qualifying went green, the fog began to lift. Kyle Busch was P1 in this round with a speed of 180.158 mph. Joe Gibbs Racing continued to show their dominance in the Xfinity Series by qualifying 1-2-3. Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney, and Austin Dillon round out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Bubba Wallace Jr., and Brendan Gaughan were some of the notable drivers who did not advance to the second round. Carl Long and Morgan Shepard were sent home packing after the first round of qualifying.
In the second round of qualifying, the fog was burned off, and drivers were battling a warming track. The track was losing grip, but came no match for Joe Gibbs Racing. For the fourth consecutive week, Joe Gibbs Racing has qualified 1-2-3. Jones, Busch, Larson, and Sadler round out the top-five.
Can Joe Gibbs continue their dominance in the Xfinity Series? Find out at 4 pm Eastern time, only on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.