Tuesday, Dec 05
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Martin Truex Jr. feels like he has some unfinished business with Texas Motor Speedway. In April, Truex led 142 laps but finished second just 0.508 seconds behind fellow Toyota driver Kyle Busch.

The Michael Waltrip Racing driver hopes an Oct. 21 and 22 test on the 1.5-mile oval at Texas is the key to finishing one spot better on Sunday when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the Lone Star state.

Before going to Texas, Truex is testing the No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota at Homestead-Miami Speedway Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for the Nov. 17 season finale.

Martin Truex Jr. On Testing: “When we finish up here at Homestead today we will be done with testing this season. Last week we tested at Texas and had a really good test there. I am obviously looking forward to the race this weekend. We came so close to winning at Texas in the spring. The only thing on our mind is going back there and winning. Homestead has always been a great track for me. Our NAPA team is definitely looking forward to going there as well. Hopefully we can go back to contending for wins starting Sunday at Texas.”

On the NAPA team: “All this NAPA team wants to do is go out swinging. They have always worked hard and deserve something really good to happen. We’ve had such a great time together and we want to finish out this season strong. The last couple of weeks have been frustrating. Not a lot has gone our way. Three of our best tracks are coming up. Hopefully they will be good to us so that we can do some good things. All we want to do is to go out on a positive note. This NAPA team deserves it.”

Update on Cast: “My wrist is 75 percent healed. I still wear a cast when I race but it’s removable now. I only have to wear it when I am in the car. It’s getting better but at times it hurts a little bit. I notice it the most right after a race. It’s not slowing me down. It’s all good. I’ll be back to 100 percent when the new season begins.”


It’s back to action this week for Nationwide Series teams, and the challenge is a formidable one – Texas Motor Speedway.

Nationwide teams had run for 21 straight weeks before taking the past two weekends off. The schedule resumes Saturday at TMS with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge, a 300-mile race on one of the circuit’s fastest tracks.

Landon Cassill will be back in the Flex Seal Chevrolet for the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team at TMS.

“I always enjoy racing at Texas,” said Cassill, who has run two Nationwide races and six Sprint Cup events at the Fort Worth track. “It’s one of the most demanding places we go to, but that makes it fun and a challenge for the driver.”

JD Motorsports PR

After two weeks on the sidelines, the Nationwide Series roars back to life this week with Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway.

Mike Wallace and the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team are ready for another run on the tough Texas track in the GK Services 01 Chevrolet.

“Texas is an unusual track because it’s very fast but also very technical,” Wallace said. “You have to have a good setup there, in addition to great engine power, to do well. And it’s a driver’s track in that you have to be on your toes every lap.”

Wallace finished 21st in the April Nationwide race at TMS. His best finish in a Nationwide race at the track is 12th.

Nationwide teams had run for 21 straight weeks before taking the past two weekends off. After the Texas race, the season will conclude with events at Phoenix and Homestead, Fla.

Nationwide practice is scheduled at 2:05 p.m. and 6 p.m. (ET) Friday. Qualifying is at 12:05 p.m. Saturday, with the race to follow at 3:30 p.m.

JD Motorsports PR

Jeff Gordon loves Martinsville Speedway. He loved it before his drought-ending win Sunday.

His passion for the historic half-mile track runs deeper than his amazing on-track performances. When he views it through the eyes of a fan, he appreciates what he sees.

“I think a lot of people love tradition, and a lot of our core fans that have been following our sport for a long time have passed on, through generations, to their families following our sport. And Martinsville is about the history and tradition,” Gordon said.

“But along with that, I think it’s just the short-track action. I think people love the short tracks and the bumping and the banging and pushing people out of the way. I think there are just a lot of interesting story lines that come along with Martinsville, but I think it starts with its history and the history of the sport.”

Gordon escaped most of the bumping and banging that is Martinsville during Sunday’s Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 Powered by Kroger as he roared to his eighth Martinsville Speedway victory, but his first since 2005.

After he had performed a world-class burnout, celebrated with his team and done countless interviews, the still-ecstatic Gordon jogged a few feet from Martinsville’s traditional on-the-track victory lane into the front-stretch grandstands. He high-fived, fist-bumped and hugged fans amazed by his presence among them.


Gordon said he made the trip into the stands because it “was that kind of response where they’re sticking around after the race.” And he wanted to reward his fans for their foot-stomping, screaming support as he out-dueled Matt Kenseth with 21 laps to go.

“I couldn’t hear and see everything going on when I was passing for the lead or getting the checkered flag, but I had a lot of people telling me the reaction and that’s so cool. I think that’s so awesome.”

While Gordon appreciates the Wrigley Field, Fenway Park feel that Martinsville Speedway presents to fans, he absolutely loves the challenge of the long straight-aways, tight turns and close-quarter competition that is no different from when the track first opened in 1947.

“It is one of those tracks where things have just changed the least, and the way you drive the track has just not changed tremendously versus what we have gone through at other tracks aerodynamically and with mechanical grip at some of the longer and faster tracks” said Gordon. “Here at Martinsville I would say that it's still kind of old school.  You've got to save the tires, you've got to be patient, you have to get into a rhythm.  I like this track and I love coming back here”. 

Martinsville Speedway PR

Even though Kurt Busch finished 37th and dropped to 24th in driver points at the Texas Motor Speedway race in April, the Furniture Row Racing driver feels it was the turning point of the season for the single-car team.  
“I know it might sound awkward considering the finish we had and our points position following the Texas spring race, but what I am saying is accurate,” stated Busch, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS. “It was our turning point race. We felt like we had a whole different swagger about the team with the setup we brought there. I think we all felt then that we had the potential to be one of the Chase teams.”
For the record, Busch qualified second at the April Texas race, his first of eight front-row starts of the season. During the practices leading up to the Saturday night race he was posting some of the top speeds.
And when the green flag dropped to start the 500-mile race at the 1.5-mile oval, Busch was running up front until a fuel regulator malfunctioned, forcing him to the garage to replace the broken part.
But since that Texas race, Busch has indeed come on strong, scoring eight top fives, 13 top-10s and becoming the first driver from a single-car team to qualify for the Chase playoffs.  
Another indicator of how the Denver-based team progressed since Texas in April is Busch’s 6.86 finishing average in the ensuing seven races on mile-and-a-half ovals.
Busch is looking to improve upon his 1.5-mile success at this weekend’s AAA Texas 500 Sprint Cup race.
“I am looking forward to going back to Texas to try and clean up some spilled milk,” said Busch, who enters Sunday’s race ninth in driver points. “I feel Texas has the potential of being one of our better Chase races. We also haven’t had much success at the last three Sprint Cup races so it’s time to turn things around.”
The Texas race also gave Furniture Row Racing a spark last fall, when Busch scored his first of three-consecutive top-10 finishes.
“We were pretty good in the closing three races last year and I look for us to show similar muscle as we head into the homestretch,” said Busch, who joined Furniture Row Racing with six races remaining in 2012. “But we can’t afford any slips if we want to stay in the top-10 in points and have a speaking slot at the awards banquet in Las Vegas.”




I want to be a cowboy, baby.” Kid Rock isn’t the only one who’d like to be a cowboy. The field of 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers wouldn’t mind being one after Sunday’s AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. That’s because part of the post-race attire given to the winner in victory lane is a custom-made cowboy hat.

Johnson has two of them, coming by way of his victories after the fall 2007 and 2012 events. Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team tested at the 1.5 mile oval last week in search of victory number three, and the five-time Sprint Cup champion noted how much the line around the track had moved. While testing may have given those who participated in the session a little bit of an edge over those who didn’t, Johnson notes that regardless, conditions should produce an “exciting race.” 

Things certainly got exciting after last weekend’s race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, which left Johnson and Matt Kenseth tied atop the standings in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Kenseth owns the tiebreaker with seven wins this season to Johnson’s five. So a win Sunday would help Johnson move past Kenseth and help separate the two drivers from the rest of the field, who have started to chip away at the point differential.

Johnson even noted on Twitter after the race, “This championship is gonna go all the way to the last lap in Homestead.” But a good run at Texas would provide some “giddyup” to his chances of earning his sixth championship. And since it is Halloween weekend, Johnson wouldn’t mind dressing up as a cowboy Sunday. And, surely, he’d say it would be awesome to be a cowboy, baby.





Texas Motor Speedway can be a rough ride, but David Gilliland is looking forward to getting on track there this week.  His No. 38 Long John Silver's team thinks the set-up that got them a 17th-place finish at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway last month can repeat the performance at the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth.


The two tracks have a similarly rough surface and carry high speeds.  This year's new Generation-6 car produced record speeds at the April race at Texas, and teams have had six months to improve on their set-ups for the track.  The result could be even higher speeds for the No. 38 team and the rest of the field for this weekend's AAA Texas 500.


Gilliland has 14 Sprint Cup career starts at the Texas track, with a top finish of 15th (2008).


Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland heading to Texas:


"Texas is a unique track, but we're going to try to apply some things that we learned in Atlanta because we ran really well at Atlanta.  We thought we could take what we learned in Atlanta to Charlotte, but it didn't quite correlate and our Charlotte race didn't go as well.  But Texas, I think, is more like Atlanta.  It's rougher, a little bit higher banking and higher speeds.  So, we're going to see what we can do there.


"I really enjoy Texas.  It's one of my favorites and one of the fastest tracks we go to.  We're really looking forward to getting out there and finishing on a strong note on that style of racetrack for the year.


"It'll be a pretty different approach from our first trip to Texas back in April because the Generation-6 car has evolved a lot since then.  Or at least the approach to setting up the Gen-6 car has evolved.  Every week, everybody's constantly working to get better.  Our team's job is to make the cars better and continue the process of evolution on the cars.  I feel like they've done a good job at that.  I feel like they're definitely different and have progressed a lot.  So, I'm anxious to get back on track out there and see what we've learned."



With the 2013 Sprint Cup season hitting the homestretch, and just three weeks remaining before the season-ending Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, race teams in every major NASCAR series are picking up the work pace in hopes of going into the off-season with the momentum that comes from a great finish.

Trevor Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, despite running a limited schedule, have been in high gear for the past several weeks. They participated in a NASCAR test at Charlotte Motor Speedway, raced at Talladega Superspeedway, tested two days this week at Homestead-Miami Speedway and are set to run two of the Sprint Cup circuit’s final three races – at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend and the Ford 400 at Homestead in two weeks.

“We’ve been really, really busy,” said team co-owner Eddie Wood. “It’s good to be back at the track on a regular basis.”

Wood said that while his family’s team strives to run well every time out, a strong performance in the Ford 400 at Homestead is especially important for him and his team. “All our friends from Ford Motor Company will be there,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest events of the year.”

First, there’s this weekend’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Wood said he’s more than ready to race again at Texas, where Bayne and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion have shown great potential in recent races, even if the final results haven’t reflected it.

“We’ve always run well there,” he said. “Something always seems to happen that keeps us from being able to finish off a race.”

From an experience standpoint, Texas is one of the few places on the Sprint Cup schedule where the 22-year-old Bayne isn’t hampered by a lack of track time. Although he has just 44 career Cup starts, he has six at Texas, more than any other 1.5-mile track he’s raced on.  In addition to his Cup starts,  he has a Nationwide Series victory there in the fall of 2011.

To help Bayne capitalize on that experience, crew chief Donnie Wingo and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew have prepared chassis No. 745, which made its competitive debut earlier this year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where it carried a special paint scheme to honor Henry Ford’s 150th birthday.

 “It’s our best downforce car,” Wood said.

Wood Brothers Racing PR





Over 100 years of history circle the famed .596-mile track inside the gates of Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (Tenn.). History so rich it places the annual All-American 400 high on the list of most prestigious late model races in the country. To achieve a victory from one of the races on that list is what most drivers work for, but to be searching for three in a row is something only dreamed about.


This Saturday 17-year-old Erik Jones hopes he isn't dreaming, but "Awake at the Wheel" of his Kyle Busch Motorsport No. 51 Toyota as he ventures to the Music Capital of the World for his first attempt at the All-American 400. Dressed in new colors to support Wake Up Narcolepsy - a leading nonprofit dedicated to speeding narcolepsy diagnosis through greater awareness and funding research for a cure - the Michigan native will be attempting to rewrite history and become the first driver to collect the Snowball Derby trophy, the Winchester 400 rifle, and the All-American 400 guitar consecutively.


Only a few weeks ago, Jones became the sixth driver to capture victories in both the Snowball Derby and the Winchester 400. With a win this weekend, the talented youngster would join short track legends Butch Miller and Gary St. Amant as the only drivers to win all three events across their career.


"I'm really looking forward to Nashville," Jones said. "It is a place that is just littered with history. I have the opportunity to accomplish a pretty big sweep. It would be really special to add my name to a list of names like Butch Miller and Gary St. Amant. They are guys that I look up to and it really would be a dream come true to be a part of something like that."


"The All-American is a race that I have wanted to run for a while now, and I'm really fortunate to have the opportunity to run with KBM there," he continued. "We had a great No. 51 Camry at Winchester, and I know we will be strong this weekend at Nashville." 


Jones will be behind the wheel of the same Toyota Camry that Kyle Busch piloted in last year's All-American 400. Busch had led the most laps and was at the front of the field when rain brought out a caution just shy of the halfway mark. After running several laps under caution to get to the halfway point, the rain subsided just enough to go back to green. Unfortunately, shortly after the green-flag restart and with the track under wet conditions still, the No. 51 suffered a flat tire going into Turn 4. Busch caromed hard into the outside wall, ending his night and hopes of his first All-American 400 victory.







“Winning then, winning now, winning tomorrow,” as quoted by one of Kyle Busch’s many fans on social media. Over half a million NASCAR fans have pledged their allegiance to Busch online, designating him as their favorite driver. Those fans sing loud and clear on Facebook and Twitter every week, to his ability. Proving his fans right, Busch and the No. 54 Monster Energy team enter week 33 of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) in Fort Worth, positioned for a strong 2013 finish. To support their fans’ excitement, Busch and team have secured 11 wins this year, recently capped with a fall race win at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. This Saturday the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) stable will again tackle the 1.5-mile Texas venue, where earlier this year crew chief Adam Stevens and his 28-year-young veteran driver, narrowly missed the pole-starting position with a second-place qualifying effort, then went on to  earn victory with the Toyota team. An accomplishment that carried over for Busch to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event the next day, allowing Busch to “sweep” the Lonestar-State races in April.

This weekend Busch will again attempt victory and a possible weekend “sweep,” racing in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions, including the NASCAR Camping World Truck, Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series. Needless to say, Busch is extremely comfortable maneuvering the Texas track and has proven his skills to be dominant. Busch’s performance in Texas has yielded him the No. 1 spot in most statistical categories at this facility. Loop Data Statistics over the past eight years at TMS, record Busch first in: Driver Rating (126.6), Average Running Position (1), # of Fastest Laps Run (624, 26.1%), Average Mid-Race Position (6.5), Final Average Position (6.8), # of Laps in the Top 15 (2450, 87.2%), # of Laps Led (1343, 42.5%), Fastest Driver Early in a Run (177.321 mph), Fastest Driver Late in a Run (171.955 mph), Fastest on Restarts (168.756 mph), Fastest Green Flag Speed (173.765 mph) and Highest Average Speed per Race Quarter (Q3 & Q4).

In the Nationwide Series at TMS, Busch holds the record for most poles (3), most laps led (1343), most wins (6) and most top-five finishes (12). He and the 11-time winning No. 54 JGR unit are the defending race winners at Texas and Busch currently sits as the Nationwide Series driver with the most amount of laps led all season (1,811, 33.46%). Have Busch’s fans predicted correctly? A “win tomorrow” is to be determined in the Lonestar-State and Busch likes his odds.



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