News & Media

Nationwide Series snapshot: Texas

April 03, 2014, Brad Norman,

Catch up quickly before Friday's running of the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300

What: O'Reilly Auto Parts 300
: Texas Motor Speedway
: Friday, April 4
: ESPN2, PRN (8:30 p.m. ET)
: 200 laps; 300 miles

Pit Road Speed: 45 mph
Caution Car Speed
: 55 mph

Front row
1. Kevin Harvick, JR Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet (184.963 mph)
2. Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (184.464 mph)

Defending race winner
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Toyota

Former Texas winners in the field
Kyle Busch (6)Kevin Harvick (5), Matt Kenseth (2), Trevor Bayne (1), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1)

Fastest in practice
First practice: Ty Dillon, Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet (180.505 mph)
Second practice (shortened 20 minutes by rain): Ty Dillon, Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet (180.361mph)

From the box: Crew chief Chris Rice serves as a guest analyst for this year. His quick outlook on the race: "It's going to be a really good race with a lot of side-by-side action. I still think Kyle Busch will be crazy fast, him and the 22 (of Ryan Blaney). Kevin Harvick's here so he's going to be good, Dale Jr.'s here. There's a lot of Sprint Cup talent in the field, and it forces all of us Nationwide Series teams to step up and be better."

From the garage: A familiar face was spotted in an unfamiliar location before Thursday's practices got underway. Steve Letarte, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief for his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, was peekingunder the hood of Junior's Nationwide Series ride, chatting with crew members and giving advice. No, Letarte will not serve as Earnhardt's crew chief in Friday night's race. He will be a consultant, though, helping out a JR Motorsports organization that will field four entries for the first time in its 10-year history.

He said it: "We only live about 100 yards from each other. He lives right up the hill and we see each enough to where I'm ready to get away from him." -- Ty Dillon on his relationship with brother, Austin, with both drivers moving up a series this year.

He said it II: "It's been a really smooth transition to me. We haven't had any rough days, but we know that those days will come. And we'll have to handle them when they do." -- Trevor Bayne, tied for the points lead, on working with new crew chief Chad Norris.

Hold on, there: Kyle Busch was given a 15-minute penalty in Thursday's second practice due to his team being late for qualifying inspection at Auto Club.

Double duty: Nine drivers in Friday's race are on the entry list for Sunday's Duck Commander 500 Sprint Cup Series event: Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Landon Cassill, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Josh Wise and J.J. Yeley.

Right at home: Travel was a little less hectic for James Buescher this week. The Texas native lives approximately four hours from the track. He drove to the facility Thursday morning with his family -- and dog. This is Buescher's first Nationwide Series race here with RAB Racing, but the No. 99 team earned the pole at both Texas races last year with driver Alex Bowman. "This is going to be our first week back to our baseline package," crew chief Chris Rice said. "We experimented the first five races with James, and we've had some success, but also we've had some not-so-good results. So we're back to what we call our RAB baseline."

Rookie revival: At least two Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates have finished in the top 10 in every race this season.