Snapshot: Texas preview
April 05, 2014, Brad Norman, NASCAR.com
What: 18th annual Duck Commander 500
Where: Texas Motor Speedway
When: Monday, April 7
TV/Radio: FOX, PRN (Noon ET)
Distance: 334 laps; 501 miles
Avg. time of race: 3 hours, 18 minutes and 46 seconds
Pit road speed: 45 mph
Caution car speed: 55 mph
Fuel window: 54 laps
Competition caution: The race will start under green-yellow conditions, running about 10 laps to put heat into the track. After 25 laps at full green pace, NASCAR will throw a competition caution to allow teams to check tire wear and make adjustments.
Defending race champion
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (194.539 mph)
Not so fast: Twelve NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams saw their drivers held for 15 minutes at the start of the opening practice because those teams were late to pre-qualifying inspection at Martinsville. Those affected: Michael Annett, Landon Cassill, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Parker Kligerman, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Reed Sorenson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Whitt.
Mr. 400: It's a milestone weekend for Greg Biffle, who will make his 400th consecutive premier series start Sunday. After a DNQ in the third race of the 2003 season, The Biff has started every race since, collecting 19 wins along the way. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 731 consecutive starts entering Monday. Matt Kenseth is second with 508 consecutive starts.
He said it I: "I didn't have any skill. I only played because you got to leave campus for the road games." – Dale Earnhardt Jr. on his junior varsity basketball career at Oak Ridge Military Academy. Junior tweeted a "Throwback Thursday" image earlier this week of his playing days.
He said it II: "Zero to hero, hero to zero, all that good stuff. That's what racing's all about." -- Kurt Busch, last week's race winner, after wrecking in Friday's opening practice.
Not true to form: Matt Kenseth leads all active drivers with 13 top-fives at Texas, but he struggled in qualifying Saturday. Kenseth finished 26th in the first 25-minute session; Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch was 29th. "I thought we were going to have a shot at the pole as good as we were in practice," Kenseth said.
Texas two-step?: Kyle Busch looks to become the first driver in Sprint Cup Series history to win two consecutive spring races at Texas.
Up there, again: Team Penske continued to be a cut above the competition in qualifying with both Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano advancing to the final knockout round Saturday. Logano, who will start 10th, is the only driver to advance to the final round in every knockout qualifying session. Keselowski has qualified on the front row in five of the six races that have used the group format. He lines up next to polesitter Tony Stewart on Monday.
Former Texas winners in field: Carl Edwards (3), Jimmie Johnson (3), Greg Biffle (2), Denny Hamlin (2), Matt Kenseth (2), Tony Stewart (2),Kurt Busch (1), Kyle Busch (1), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1), Jeff Gordon (1), Kasey Kahne (1), Ryan Newman (1).
Fantasy sleeper (powered by RotoWire)
Clint Bowyer. After his first top-10 finish of the season at Martinsville Speedway, it appears that Bowyer has his Michael Waltrip Racing team finally heading in the right direction after a slow start to the season. The driver of the No. 15 Toyota sports a impressive 56 percent top-10 rate at Texas, and Bowyer has three top-10 finishes in his last five races at the intermediate oval. Given the newfound momentum of this driver and team, Bowyer has to be smiling big coming to Fort Worth for the Duck Commander 500.