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Drivers eager to see newly repaved Texas Motor Speedway
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Texas RELATED: Full schedule for Texas " Stage lengths for Texas As NASCAR heads west this week to the Texas Motor Speedway's newly paved 1.5-miler in a month otherwise filled with short track races, teams will have plenty to reconsider about the track itself -- the first intermediate venue since Las Vegas on March 12. The Fort Worth high banks have been partially reconfigured and received the first new paving since 2001. The bumps long associated with portions of the track are gone. The banking in Turns 1 and 2 has been reduced from 24 degrees to 20 degrees -- and the racing surface in that section has been widened from 60 feet to 80 feet – while Turns 3 and 4 will remain at 24 degrees of banking. And while there has not been a tire test on the new surface, Goodyear has assured it has tires ready to go. "I'm glad we're going to get some race cars on the track and let's see how it goes," Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said Wednesday. "One of the drivers said to me, 'It's not supposed to be easy,' and I do agree. It does throw a curveball at them and that's OK. "I'm just anxious to get drivers and race cars on the track. It's been finished for almost two months." Jimmie Johnson, winless so far this season, will obviously be eager to see the new look when teams arrive for Sunday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 (1:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The reigning seven-time Cup champ has won five of the last nine Texas races and his six victories here and 1,023 laps out front are best all time. RELATED: Texas stats for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers "I know best efforts are put in place to create an asphalt and tire combination that will really work well together and have some age in the surface," Johnson said. "I'm very optimistic that we are going to show up and sure it's going to be fast and maybe a little more single-file than we want to get started, but Texas has a lot of banking. It's a very fast track. "The entrance to the corners is a little sharp, but what is really sneaky about it is one corner exit you run out of room quick. The angle off the turn can really get your attention. With the faster speeds we will run there, I wouldn't be surprised if guys are caught out on corner exit hitting the wall." RELATED: A first look at the Texas repave In fact, Johnson's entire Hendrick team may be the best to judge the new looks and feels of the facility. Not only is Johnson the most celebrated winner there, but his teammate Chase Elliott won his first XFINITY Series race on the track in 2014 and has a pair of top fives in his rookie Cup starts at Texas last year. Kasey Kahne won the Cup race from the pole position in 2006. Of similar good fortune, Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored his first Monster Energy Series victory at the track in his first start there in 2000. He was runner-up there in his last start last Spring and has four consecutive top-six finishes in his last four starts here. "You never forget where you won your first race, and neither do your fans," Earnhardt said. "So I always look forward to coming here. This is a track that really puts on a good show. "Before the repave, it was a very wide racetrack where you could use a lot of different lines and it was so much fun. I think the track will still be that way. This place is going to maintain its character and personality. The asphalt is new but it'll age with the weather out here and the environment, it'll speed up that process." The weekend's schedule will include an extra hour of Monster Energy Series practice time to allow teams some additional time to familiarize themselves with the track and the tires. The speedway has been working around the clock for the last two months to work in the new surface. Not only were almost 20,000 tons of asphalt used for the complete repave on top, a French drainage system was installed underneath including 24,000 linear feet of drainage tile and ditches. "It's not a sexy subject, but it is an important subject," Gossage said. "If you take care of the show everything else will take care of itself." &lt;/p&gt;
Allen Boes earns first win of 2017 at Texas Motor Speedway
RELATED: See the complete iRacing schedule Allen Boes scored his first NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series win of the 2017 season at Texas Motor Speedway , ending Ryan Luza's two-race winning streak as the erstwhile championship leader found trouble late in the going. Boes held off Cody Byus after a restart with seven laps to go. Byus was keeping pace with Boes, but a caution with three laps remaining ended his shot at making a late-race move for the win. Kenny Humpe was third, followed by teammates Bobby Zalenski and Chris Overland. Boes and Luza had the best cars for much of the event with Luza leading 73 of 167 laps while Boes led 72. However, Luza's chance to win evaporated when he got caught back in traffic after a pit stop and had a run-in with Kenny Humpe. The collision with Humpe, and then the wall, caused significant damaged to Luza's car and he wound-up nineteenth. The night began with Michael Conti leading the field to the green flag but the yellow was back out before the field made it to Turn 3. Phillip Diaz got sideways off Turn 2 before being hooked into the wall, causing a huge stack-up halfway back in the field. While most of the pack saw the crash, a couple drivers further back seemed not to and collected nearly a dozen cars. When the dust cleared and the green waved again the lead was hotly contested among several sim racers. Byus wasted little time passing Conti for the lead on Lap Seven only to see Logan Clampitt take the lead for himself one lap later. By Lap 20 the groove had widened and Boes, who was running the middle lane, took his first turn at the front after getting by Clampitt off Turn 4. Boes could not lead for long either as Luza took the top spot on Lap 26, right as the second yellow of the race slowed the action. Luza won the race off pit road and build a decent lead once the race went green. Boes and Byus were quick enough to keep in touch, but not quite quick enough to challenge Luza for the top spot. The field would get another shot at him though, as a caution on Lap 65 slowed the pace right before many of the leaders were planning to pit under green. Once again, Luza was first off pit road and held the lead as the laps wore on after the restart. Byus kept in closer contact this time, never letting Luza get more than a few car lengths ahead. The two ran in the same fashion until both hit pit road under green on Lap 100 for tires and fuel. Boes inherited the lead and before he could pit Bryan Blackford was spun by Nick Ottinger, causing the yellow to fly which trapped many drivers a lap down, necessitating a wave-around. Although he was not among those trapped, Luza did pit again under the caution and restarted third behind Boes and Brian Schoenburg with Byus to his outside in fourth. Boes held off Luza who had fallen to fifth before a crash involving Schoenburg, Ray Alfalla, and several others brought the leaders to the pits again on Lap 120, putting them well within their fuel window. Boes maintained the lead off pit road but it was Luza who was on the move when the race returned to green. Luza quickly moved from fifth to second and looked a bit quicker than Boes on the long run but on Lap 144 yet another caution stopped his progress. The two pitted and maintained their positions, leading to a 19-lap shootout. Luza did not have the best short-run speed and lost second position to Byus after the restart. On Lap 155 Humpe tried to move around Luza in Turn 4 which is when the two got together, sending Luza for a spin and setting up the final dash to the finish. Luza's poor finish cost him the championship lead, as Clampitt now leads by seven points over Luza as the regular season has reached the one-third mark. Zalenski is now third, 18 points behind and three in front of Alfalla, who like Luza, finished mid-pack as the result of his crash. Darik Bourdeau recovered from an early spin to finish and holds down fifth in the standings. After three races at tracks 1.5 mile or more, the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series returns to a shorter track as the 1-mile Phoenix Raceway plays host for Week Five. Phoenix takes a much different setup than the downforce tracks, making it somewhat of a sim racing wildcard. Can Luza rebound for his third win, or can Alfalla or Clampitt visit Victory Lane for the first time in 2017? Find out in two weeks on iRacing Live!
From The Vault: Relive the thrilling first race at Texas Motor Speedway
Relive Jeff Burton's win in the first ever Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway .
The Starting Grid: Slip sliding at Texas Motor Speedway
In this week's Starting Grid Jonathan Merryman breaks down everything you need to know from Texas Motor Speedway . From big name drivers having trouble in practice to Ford dominating qualifying.
Texas Motor Speedway to be repaved ahead of April races
RELATED: Buy tickets for Texas Following a year that saw both its NASCAR race weekends impacted by rain and track drying issues, officials with Texas Motor Speedway have announced a capital improvement project that includes a repaving of the 1.5-mile racing surface, the installation of an expansive drainage system as well as a reconfiguration of Turns 1 and 2. Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said the decision wasn't a difficult one to make "because you always want to please the fans. "I think the initial response from some drivers is no (don’t repave) … but they were all here … they all experienced it. It really wasn't a choice; we need to do this." The spring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas in 2016 was delayed nearly two hours due to rain; the fall event was delayed approximately six hours, finally started under a green/yellow flag situation and was eventually shortened 41 laps when precipitation returned. The project is expected to be completed by March 1. NASCAR teams are scheduled to return to Texas April 7-9 for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and Cowboy 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race. Gossage said he hoped Goodyear officials would hold a tire test at the track upon completion of the repave. "We are going to strongly encourage Goodyear to test and not just bring a hard tire," he said. "That will be a mistake." However, in a statement released Friday afternoon, Goodyear official Greg Stucker said the tire supplier "will have to bring a new tire set-up" for the race weekend but that "because of the tight schedule, we do not have time to do a tire test." Stucker said that similar changes were made at Kentucky last year, and along with the tire supplier's history over a wide range of track configurations and surfaces, "we will determine the appropriate tire set-up in advance of the event, giving teams plenty of time to prepare." The Kentucky repave project also included a reconfiguration of its first and second turns and drainage improvements. Gossage said that repaving the track also afforded officials the opportunity to drop the banking in Turns 1 and 2 from 24 to 20 degrees, a move that could provide more passing opportunities as drivers should have to lift off the gas and possibly brake more due to the flatter turns. "Hopefully in time as the asphalt ages the drivers will have to stay out of the gas a little longer, hopefully use the brake some in Turns 1-2 and that sets up passing opportunities in the turns, on the back straightaway and of course now you're carrying a different speed through Turns 3-4 and hopefully that creates some passing opportunities on the front straight as well," he said. "A whole lot of different things going on here, but the big thing … that you're not seeing is underneath it is this drainage system. Because we want to make sure that we don't struggle with the issues that weve struggled with last year. It's not fair to the fans." Also, making the changes now means that teams will race on the same surface on both trips to Texas this season, something Gossage said was particularly important given that the fall race is one of the final Chase races. "We didn't want to have two different Texas Motor Speedway s in one NASCAR season, especially when we were the third Chase race from the end of the season," he said. "We felt like you need to have the same track when you're here in April and when you're here in November in the course of a season." No cost estimate was given for the project. Texas is the second track to announce a repaving project this year. Atlanta Motor Speedway , which is also owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., will be repaved following the completion of this year's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 slated for March 5. Graphic courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway
Texas Motor Speedway repaved and reconfigured
Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage talks about the track's recent repave and the decision to change the banking in turns one and two.
Best In-car audio from Texas Motor Speedway
Relive all the best in-car audio from the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 from Texas Motor Speedway in this week's Scanner Sounds.
Larson wins XFINITY Chase race at Texas Motor Speedway
RELATED: Full race results " Updated Chase Grid FORT WORTH, Tex. -- Grabbing the lead after a restart on Lap 171 of 200, Kyle Larson moved to the top of the track just in time to hold off polesitter Brad Keselowski for the victory in Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway . In a race that saw Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez open some breathing room in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase with respective fourth- and fifth-place finishes, Larson got a push from sixth-place finisher Elliott Sadler on the decisive restart and kept Keselowski behind him for the final 30 laps. Despite brushing the outside wall in Turn 1 with eight laps left, Larson’s No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet got to the finish line .385 seconds ahead of Keselowski’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford, as the winner worked traffic over the closing five laps. "I love seeing Elliott Sadler behind me on the restarts," said Larson, who won for the first time at Texas , the second time this season and the fifth time in his career. "He’s really good at taking off and pushing. He helped me win Pocono earlier this year, and he helped me win this one. "I was just really tight on the short runs in traffic there, but once I got to clean air, I was like, 'Oh, man, I'm loose,' and I got nervous and got to the top just in time to get rolling. I actually got loose over the bumps and hit the wall in (Turn) 1. But I had a big enough gap when I hit the wall that he wasn’t able to get to me." In fact, the brush with the wall helped to tighten the handling condition of Larson's car and made it easier to drive. Seeking his first XFINITY Series victory of the season, Keselowski led 145 laps and was delighted with the speed in his car. But that emotion was tempered by the disappointment of losing a race with perhaps the fastest car. "Whatever car got out in front, with the way the aerodynamics are, was going to control the pace," Keselowski said. "It’s so hard to pass because the aero is so important and the cars are so equal that way. "I thought maybe we were just a touch faster, but without the track position, you lose too much grip behind the guy to do anything." NASCAR Sprint Cup regular Kevin Harvick finished third, more than five seconds behind the two frontrunners. Suarez took over the Chase lead by one point over Sadler and 17 clear of fifth-place Justin Allgaier , with a cut to the top four drivers looming next Saturday at Phoenix. Jones gained two positions to third place, seven points ahead of Allgaier. One point separates fourth-place Blake Koch (14th Saturday) from Allgaier, who came home 10th at the 1.5-mile track. "It was one of the first good points days we've had in this Chase," Jones said. "It was a good, solid day -- what we needed to do. We want to go, obviously, and try to win these races, but we just didn’t have the car to do it today." Ryan Reed , Darrell Wallace Jr ., and Brendan Gaughan are sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, in the Chase standings. Reed trails Koch by five points entering the Phoenix race, with Wallace behind by 20 and Gaughan 23 back of the current cut line. </p>
O'Donnell applauds Texas Motor Speedway on repave
Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, joins SiriusXM to talk about the efforts that Texas Motor Speedway put in to making the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race after a repave a great one.
Hot Lap: Take a ride around Texas Motor Speedway with Chris Buescher
Ride along as Chris Buescher takes you around the newly reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway before the O'reilly Auto Parts 500.