- In the Fast Lane with Michael McDowell
- Track Talk: Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway
- Crunching The Numbers: 2017 Food City 500
- Track Talk: O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas
- Crunching The Numbers: 2017 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
- Track Talk: STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway
- Track Talk: Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway
- Dropping the Hammer with Elliott Sadler
- Kyle Larson Knocking on the Door for Wins
- Track Talk: Camping World 500
On The Gas, On The Brakes In Texas
- Updated: April 11, 2017
There’s a saying that “everything is bigger in Texas.” That might as well apply to the first two corners of the reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway.
As one driver observed in regard to the rechristened Texas Motor Speedway, “You drive down the frontstretch and it looks like you have four miles worth of racing lanes.”
OK, so it wasn’t really that much. In fact, drivers were lucky to get a second lane available late in the race.
Ultimately, who was two stepping out of The Lone Star State and who scored zeroes on their routine at the fast Texas Motor Speedway?
On The Gas…
5) Texas Motor Speedway – Eddie Gossage and his staff get a big high five for the work they did to get a track repaved, reconfigured and race ready in such a short time. The tire draggers that spent all night laying rubber down should be given a pay raise plus an immediate paid vacation. Hard to say bad things when you had a second groove to race on at the end.
4) Ryan Blaney – He probably should be On the Brakes after not using enough to get stopped properly on pit road. However, he a dominant run early, leading both segments and showing that he’s ready to win. That alone keeps him On the Gas. Ultimately, once Blaney and his team figure out their tactics and the nuances of pit road, they’ll be on their way.
3) Dale Earnhardt Jr – Good news for Junior Nation – they get to smile for two weeks over Easter break. Fans of Earnhardt are celebrating their driver scored his first top-five finish since last June at Pocono. For Earnhardt, many fans can take a step back or two from the edge of that ledge.
2) Jimmie Johnson – Ultimately, he was firing off six shooters in Victory Lane. As a result, Johnson made people finally realize you can’t keep a good team down. Johnson took his seventh victory at Texas. Additionally, it was a solid run and a much needed victory. If he runs off with wins in the next three or four races, we’ll bump him up to the top spot. However, someone did a better job this weekend.
1) Goodyear – It wasn’t a good day. Heck, it was a great day for the tire and rubber company. With zero prep time, the inability to test after the repave, they put the biggest brains in Akron together. Ultimately, they devised a plan and it worked. Most of all, the best news for Goodyear was that no one was talking about them. That’s how you know they got it right.
Let’s see who used up their Duralast brakes on the new, fast Texas Motor Speedway.
On The Brakes…
5) Kyle Larson – At some point, you can only take second so much. After missing qualifying, Larson, who started from the back, would race his way through the field. Ultimately, a pit road penalty would force him to do it all over again. Minus the mistakes, Larson would’ve started and stayed at the front, not trailing the No. 48 to the checkers.
4) NASCAR Inspection – With new policies preventing teams to manipulate the inspection process, teams are continuing to push the envelope. They’re forced through the line more than once, missing qualifying. Starting from the rear is not a big enough penalty. It’s time for NASCAR to lay the hammer down and tell these teams, “Good luck winning if you don’t qualify.”
3) Joe Gibbs Racing – Only one driver left the team this year, but it seems like a bunch of “replacement” players are stepping in the key spots in Huntersville. With finishes of 15th, 16th, 19th and 25th, you have to wonder who these drivers are and what happened with Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Daniel Suarez.
2) Corey LaJoie – Recently, former Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie told his son Corey to take what his car gives him and not push it. Sure, LaJoie manages to finish races. On Sunday, he nearly finished off the leaders early after being unable to hold the bottom when he was going a lap down. The good news was that there was more TV time for his sponsor while the No. 21 body checked him going down the front stretch.
1) Austin Dillon – When you go through practices, qualifying, driver intros and opening ceremonies, you’re hyped up. The anticipation to race is at an all time high. For Dillon, someone forgot that broken parts go on the truck, not on the racecar. After two parade laps, Dillon was in the garage for a broken truck arm. That meeting on Monday couldn’t have gone well.
For the guys dragging the brakes, they are likely happy that it is an off weekend. However, the rest of the lot are enjoying this upcoming Easter break.
It’s safe to say that drivers are hoping they haven’t ruffled any feathers in the first seven races. Most noteworthy, the next challenge awaiting the drivers is the Last Great Coliseum aka Bristol Motor Speedway.
Happy Easter to all of you! In two weeks, we’ll break down who was On the Gas, On the Brakes after our second short track race of the season. Ultimately, the second part of this annual list could be quite long.
Enjoy the first of two off weekends this season.