Your guide to the NRA 500
Friday, Apr. 12, 2013
Three things to watch
1. Jimmie Johnson is fresh off his second win of the season and is the most recent race winner at Texas. That doesn't bode well for the competition.
2. Fords have typically done well at Texas, and Greg Biffle won the spring race last season by a comfortable 3-plus-second margin over Johnson.
3. Brian Vickers takes his turn this week in the No. 11 Toyota as substitute driver for the injured Denny Hamlin.
TMS President Eddie Gossage is likely correct in his belief that the NRA sponsorship of this weekend's Cup race at Texas is a good fit with this area. But NASCAR has a bigger responsibility in its role in overseeing the entire sport, which races across the country and is watched by millions on national TV. That is why NASCAR must look out for all of its industry partners when it comes to approving sponsorships. It's not just about the folks buying tickets at one track. It's about what's the best policy for everyone involved – NASCAR, tracks, fans, advertisers and TV partners.
Good idea that only the Sprint Cup Series champion and his team is honored at the White House. NASCAR was the only sport which hauled participants other than those who won to the ceremony in Washington. It seems like a nice gesture, but my guess is many drivers don't need a ceremony to remind them they came up short in the title hunt. In this case, Brad Keselowski and Penske Racing will have an opportunity to have others enjoy the recognition with them.
Jeff Gordon is approaching a major milestone that could be reached in Texas. With his third-place finish last Sunday at Martinsville, Gordon now has 299 career top fives. Only three drivers in Cup series history have 300 or more top fives, and all are NASCAR Hall of Famers: Richard Petty (555), Bobby Allison (336) and David Pearson (301).
Three picks for your fantasy team:
Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch
Busch wins the pole: One Busch brother outdid the other.
Kyle Busch bested older brother Kurt to win the pole for Saturday night's NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway and in the process set a new track qualifying record.
Kyle had an average lap speed on Friday night of 196.299 mph. Brian Vickers (196.235 mph) set the previous track record in November 2006.
Kurt Busch was second-fastest, Aric Almirola third, Marcos Ambrose fourth and Martin Truex Jr. fifth. Series points leader Jimmie Johnson will line up seventh.
Vickers reaches out to Earnhardt, Harvick: Brian Vickers said he reached out to both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick the past week after being involved in incidents with both in last weekend's race at Martinsville.
Vickers was initially blamed for knocking Danica Patrick's car into Earnhardt's late in the race. Harvick, irritated with something Vickers did in the race, wrecked Vickers after the race was over.
“I spoke to Junior this week and he was fine. He had a broken track bar and was just hanging on for dear life. None of it was intentional,” Vickers said. “I reached out to Harvick and tried to call him and he didn't answer. We did text back and forth a few times. We were on a different page to start with and I think we ended closer to the same page, maybe not quite where we needed to be.”
NASCAR vs. NHRA: Drivers from the worlds of NASCAR and NHRA will face off on Wednesday in a charity slow-pitch softball game at CMC-Northeast Stadium in Kannapolis. In addition, country recording artist Darrell Harwood will give a post-game concert.
Game time is 7 p.m. Eastern. Tickets are $20 for reserved seats, $15 for general admission. For information, call (704) 400-4529.
Where: Texas Motor Speedway, Forth Worth, Texas
Track type: 1.5-mile banked, paved quad-oval
Race distance: 334 laps, 501 miles
Weather: Sunny with high in the mid-70s.
TV: Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Fox. Green flag is 7:46 p.m. ET
Radio: Motor Racing Network