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