Forget Everything You Know About NASCAR at Texas Motor Speedway
By Kent Whitaker:
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend can go one of two ways. It can be the most boring race of the season to date… or, it could be one of the most exciting races we’ve seen in a long time!
The facility underwent a dreaded repave since the Cup series was last there. If you’ve been watching NASCAR this season then you probably remember the firestorm that erupted when Atlanta was in the repave spotlight. You can bet on three things. Death, Taxes, and that drivers hate repaves! Forget everything you know about NASCAR at Texas Motor Speedway and get ready for some fun… or not.
No Prior Race Notes!
Every team and crew chief has a collection of notes and data on every track in the series. Those notes include temps, weather, car set-up, Goodyear tire info, and everything else you can imagine. Here’s the deal – there are no notes for Texas Motor Speedway! The entire track surface is new and they reconfigured a portion to make it wider.
Simply put – teams are almost flying blind when it comes to running the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 this Sunday. The time to start building notes for Sunday’s race begins when a team unloads and hit’s the track for practice. That’s not much time.
But There is Kentucky!
There is one bright spot for crew chiefs looking for a bit of insight on what the track may be like at Texas. Kentucky is a sister track to Texas and they underwent a similar repaving. There might be some info that could be garnished from Kentucky race notes.
In fact, the process of “maturing” the track for Texas is being done in a similar fashion. There are all kinds of cool names for the machines they use for this process – but, all they really do is forcibly drag old Goodyear tires around the track to lay down some rubber. Believe it or not, it works!
Also, you must consider the process that is involved in repaving a track. Chocolate Myers on Sirius XM NASCAR said this, “This is not the same stuff they use to pave a parking lot!” Myers was pointing out that “Back in the day” when a track was paved, or repaved, the owner called up a few places and got the best price. Who knows what material and mixture was used.
Now, with the help of smart engineers and science, track repaving is done with results that try to mimic a matured track. The materials used vary from track to track, from climate to climate, and even consider the amount of moisture in the air and soil. That was done at Kentucky and you can bet that was done at Texas. The best notes available will be from last year’s race at Kentucky.
Good or Bad?
Texas was repaved because it seeped water for days following a rain. Patches were not working and pieces of the track were coming up. Don’t even mention the growing speedbumps in many places along the track. In short – it had to be done.
You can flip a coin on whether the racing will be better or worse – good or bad. The surface is only part of the story. The other part is the tweaking they did with some turns and banking. Combine the two and it all boils down to one thing; will your team and driver make the adjustments in the course of a race weekend to overcome the lack of notes.
My guess is that every one of the teams running on Sunday, at the highest level of stock car racing, can roll out a car and figure out the adjustments needed!
The Chris Buescher Youtube Video!
On a side note – Driver Chris Buescher was part of a ceremony unveiling the new surface. He recorded some track time in the pace car which was uploaded to Youtube for PR reasons. You probably can’t find a single crew-chief, or driver, that has not viewed the videos made that weekend by Buescher and the Texas PR crew.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kent Whitaker, often called ‘the Deck Chef,’ is a sportswriter, culinary writer, and cookbook author with fourteen titles. He covers NASCAR, racing in general, Football, barbecue, grilling, and tailgating. You can visit him on The Deck Chef.”