Fort Worth, TX (Sports Network) - The Sprint Cup Series will run its first
nighttime (points-paying) race of the season this weekend at Texas Motor
Speedway. NASCAR's new race car, the Gen-6, will also return to intermediate
After winning last Sunday's race at Martinsville, Jimmie Johnson reclaimed the
points lead, as he holds a six-point advantage over defending series champion
Brad Keselowski. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 12 points behind Johnson, his Hendrick
Johnson became the first repeat winner of the season. He won the Feb. 24
Daytona 500. Johnson also took the checkered flag for the most recent Sprint
Cup race at Texas five months ago. Can the five-time series champion pick up
another victory there on Saturday night?
"I feel good about it," Johnson said. "We ran really well at Vegas, and
California didn't go as well as we wanted, but it's a much different racetrack
than what we have at Texas. I would say that Texas and Vegas are closer
together than Texas and California. We'll go there and see. We're still
learning this car on the big tracks. At Fontana, we were certainly trying some
things, and are smarter leaving there, and I know that these guys (No. 48
Hendrick Motorsports team) will work hard and give me a great car this coming
Texas is the second 1.5-mile track on the schedule this year, following Las
Vegas (March 10). The series will run at another mile and a half, Kansas, on
With the Gen-6, Texas will likely feature this season's fastest non-
restrictor-plate lap times. The track qualifying record here is 196.235 mph,
set by Brian Vickers in November 2006. Sprint Cup teams tested at Texas on
Thursday to get more familiar with the new car here.
"The surface (at Texas) is a little bit older than places like Charlotte,
Michigan and Kansas," Johnson noted. "I think you will see a lot of four-tire
calls and that could make a difference in the race. It's a fast track, and
it's going to be challenging to keep the car underneath you and not get
yourself in trouble. I really like the track. I think it's really going to be
another great race."
Greg Biffle won last year's spring race at Texas, adding to Roush Fenway
Racing's dominance here. Jack Roush has the most car owner victories at this
track with nine, compared to four wins for Rick Hendrick and three for Joe
Carl Edwards, who drives the No. 99 Ford for Roush, leads all drivers with
three Sprint Cup victories at Texas. He won both races here during the 2008
season. Last month, Edwards snapped a two-year, 70-race winless streak in the
series at Phoenix.
"I love racing at Texas, because everything about the race track is fun,"
Edwards said. "We're hoping for our second win of the season and fourth at
Texas. It's going to be a tough one on the crew chiefs and engineers to get
these cars perfect in the nighttime conditions, because we don't get to
practice like that. It's going to be a tough race from start to finish."
Five different Roush Fenway drivers have won at Texas: Biffle, Edwards, Jeff
Burton, Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin. Biffle, Burton and Kenseth have two
victories each here.
"I attribute it to good teams, good drivers and communication with equipment,"
Biffle said. "Teams will get on to setups. Maybe their race cars cater to this
type of racetrack a little bit better. I've had a lot of success here. We
are sharing that information, so Carl (Edwards) has that setup. Carl has won
here, so we copied his setup. We learn together as a group, and I think it
helps us as an organization to be strong at particular race tracks."
Brian Vickers will drive the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in relief of the
injured Denny Hamlin. Vickers, a Nationwide Series regular this season, is
also scheduled to be in the car at Kansas and Richmond (April 27). Mark Martin
drove the No. 11 to a 10th-place finish at Martinsville. Hamlin continues to
recover from a compression fracture in his lower back due to an accident on
the final lap in the March 24 race in Fontana, Calif.
Forty-five teams are on the preliminary entry list for the NRA 500.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Saturday, April 13. Race: NRA 500. Site:
Texas Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 7:30 p.m. ET. Laps:
334. Miles: 501. 2012 Winner: Greg Biffle. Television: FOX. Radio: Performance
Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.
The Sports Network