Monday, April 8, 2013

NRA Texas 500 Storylines

Greg Biffle won at Texas last spring
NASCAR Sprint Cup’s new Gen-6 cars return to intermediate track competition this week in the Lone Star State where the season’s first race under the lights unfolds Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

Two intermediate track appearances of the new Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry have produced memorable finishes. A Thursday test session will open the weekend, leading to perhaps the fastest Gen-6 intermediate track lap speeds seen to date.

Points leader Jimmie Johnson won last November’s Texas race. Greg Biffle won in the spring – a race in which every winner during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ era has qualified for the post season.

Danica Patrick’s surprising 12th-place Martinsville debut shines the spotlight on a tight, Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle. Patrick finished 24th in Texas last November. Rival Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will make his Sprint Cup debut at the track where he won last spring’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. also is a Texas Motor Speedway winner – three times in IndyCar – but has yet to visit the track’s Victory Lane as a NASCAR competitor. To do so, he’ll have to best a stellar field that includes Kyle Busch, winner of five consecutive Texas races from 2008-10. Busch has won three of this season’s past four races including two straight at Bristol and Auto Club Speedway.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams return to "The Rock" – Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway – for a Sunday afternoon event. Points leader Johnny Sauter has an eye on series history as the first driver to win three consecutive races to open a season following victories at Daytona and last weekend at Martinsville.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – NRA 500, SATURDAY, APRIL 13, 7:30 P.M. EDT ON FOX

Gen-6 Car Produces Pair Of Scintillating, Intermediate Track Finishes
With a pair of thrilling finishes in the books, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series brings the new Gen-6 cars to the third intermediate track of the 2013 season, Saturday night under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch won at Auto Club Speedway with a final lap pass while his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth out-dueled Kasey Kahne in a tense, final-laps duel at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Points Leader Johnson Won Most Recent Visit To Texas Motor Speedway
Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson regained the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, where he led his 14,000th series lap. Johnson, the season’s first two-time winner, drove his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to victory the last time he visited Texas Motor Speedway in November. Saturday night’s race will mark Johnson’s 500th NASCAR national series start.

Spring Lone Star Race Barometer Of Post-Season Participation
Greg Biffle scored an emphatic victory at Texas Motor Speedway last spring adding to Roush Fenway Racing’s domination at the 1.5-mile facility. RFR has won nine of 24 series races run in Fort Worth – five by current drivers Biffle and Carl Edwards. The Lone Star State’s spring race is an early barometer of success with each of its winners qualifying for the post season in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ era.

Vickers Next In JGR No. 11 After Martin Preserves Top 10 Owner Standing
Brian Vickers is next up in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in relief of the injured Denny Hamlin. The team has a solid history at Texas Motor Speedway where Hamlin swept spring and fall races in 2010 – the season in which the Virginia driver nearly won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Vickers will do double duty in Texas also competing in Friday night’s Nationwide Series race. The No. 11 team stands ninth in Sprint Cup owner points following Mark Martin’s 10th-place finish in Martinsville.

Patrick’s Rookie Fortunes On Upswing Following Solid Short-Track Finish
This week marks an anniversary of sorts for Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Danica Patrick and her Stewart-Haas Racing crew chief Tony Gibson. The pairing finished 24th in its initial outing at Texas Motor Speedway last fall. Patrick holds a slim rookie points lead over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after a 12th-place finish in Martinsville – the third-best debut at the track by a driver in Sunday’s field. The finish was Patrick’s best Sprint Cup finish on a non-restrictor plate track.

Junior Seeks Bounce Back Where He’s Enjoyed Past Success
You can say Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a rough day at the office at Martinsville Speedway where a 24th-place finish ended his brief NASCAR Sprint Cup points reign. Earnhardt fell from first to third, 12 points behind Jimmie Johnson and six arrears of Brad Keselowski. Texas Motor Speedway represents a good chance for Junior to rebound. He finished seventh in last fall’s race, the second after returning to competition after being sidelined by concussion. Earnhardt won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at TMS in 2000.

- NASCAR Media Services

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