The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads west for a crucial clash at Texas Motor Speedway in the AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile oval with a minimum width of 58 feet. The banking is 20 degrees in Turns 1 and 2 and 24 degrees in Turns 3 and 4, with five degrees of banking in the straightaways. The asphalt surface was repaved before the spring race in 2017.
Since the repave, five drivers have an average finish below 10: Kevin Harvick (3.2), Joey Logano (7.2), Kurt Busch (8.4), Erik Jones (8.8) and Chase Elliott (9.4).
The stages for Sunday’s race will be as follows: Stage 1 will end on Lap 85, Stage 2 will end on Lap 170 and the final stage is scheduled to end on Lap 334.
Texas will see cars modeled with aero ducts and use a tapered-spacer engine that is targeted to generate around 550 horsepower. Teams will be allowed three Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials for practice, one set for qualifying and 10 sets for the race (nine new race sets plus one transferred from practice or qualifying).
The newly repaved and therefore smoother surface is more difficult for tires to lay down rubber and create additional groves early in the race. The use of PJ1 will be instrumental in providing grip on new areas of the track.
“Since its repave a couple years ago, Texas is one of the more ‘smooth’ surfaces we race on in NASCAR,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “The right-side tire we bring to Texas is the same one we’ve run at other tracks where we want to introduce wear or rubber-in the track. The track will also apply PJ1 to the surface this weekend to help create a second groove and give drivers options.”
– With Martin Truex Jr. clinching a spot in the Championship 4 with his win at Martinsville, Toyota became the only make to have at least one driver in the Championship 4 each season since its inception in 2014.
– In just seven Monster Energy Series starts at Texas, Chase Elliott has finished in the top 10 five times and has an average finish of eighth.
– Kyle Busch is in the midst of a 19-race winless streak, his sixth longest as a driver for JGR. Since his last win, Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones have all won a race. Truex has won four including three playoff races in that stretch, while Hamlin has won three times including one playoff race over that span
– In spite of his recent two-year winless drought, Jimmie Johnson still leads drivers in all-time wins at 1.5-mile tracks with 28 — 13 more than the next-closest active driver, Kevin Harvick.
– Hendrick Motorsports currently has the longest streak with at least one driver finishing inside the top-10 at Texas at 26 races. The streak is the longest all-time.
Source: Racing Insights
Tune in to the second race in the Monster Energy Series Round of 8 on Sunday at 3 p.m. with coverage on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App. Also, follow along on NASCAR.com for live Lap-by-Lap coverage, the live leaderboard, Drive (featuring in-car cameras) and RaceView (subscription: in-car audio, stats, more). Be sure to set your lineup in Fantasy Live and make your picks in the Props Challenge.
2018 RACE WINNER
Kevin Harvick led a career-high 177 laps at Texas in last fall’s playoff victory, securing his position at Homestead for the season finale. Harvick took command early after starting in third, sweeping both stages en route to his second victory at the track.
ACTIVE TEXAS WINNERS
Jimmie Johnson (seven); Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin (three each); Kevin Harvick (two); Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman (one each).