Tag:Samsung Mobile 500
Posted on: April 10, 2011 9:42 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2011 9:42 pm
Posted on: April 10, 2011 1:34 am

Kenseth's team post Texas comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

We're now joined in the Samsung Mobile Media Center by tonight's winner of the Samsung Mobile 500 Matt Kenseth. With Matt's win tonight, he snaps a 76-race win streak. It's his second career win at Texas, his last coming in 2002. Since then he had four runner-up finishes at Texas Motor Speedway.            

You now have led the most laps of any Cup driver TMS with 669. More importantly, you're third in the points. Talk about snapping that streak and finally winning in Texas for the second time.           

MATT KENSETH:  Yeah, it feels good to get back to Victory Lane. It's been a long time. You talk about the second place finishes here, and I got beaten at the end of a lot of these races. It's great to finish second if you can't win.           

But another way is like getting kicked in the gut. You have to come back. Like last fall you look at Jimmy, and you come back and look at the guys and you're leading with two to go, three to go, five to go, and you don't win, it's always disappointing.           

So it feels good to have a night like we had tonight with a dominant car and to be able to get the win.           

THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by winning team owner, Jack Roush. It's his 16th career win at Texas Motor Speedway, and NASCAR's top three series. Second time you've won the Nationwide and Cup events at TMS in the same weekend. The Roush Fenway cars finished 1, 3, 4 and 7 tonight. Talk about tonight and the success of Roush?           

JACK ROUSH:  Well, I'm really proud of what we've been able to do in 2011. You know, we tuned up our engineering program with Ford's help over the winter and we got a new Ford nose. Everybody got a new nose this year, but our new nose was better than our old nose, I think. And we've had our FR9 engine really up to speed.           

So all of that is going well. I can't say how proud I am to be here with Matt, realizing that he's not gotten the success that his effort has deserved in recent past.           

Of course, Jimmy Fennig isn’t an instant success story. He's our oldest crew chief. Jimmy, what year did you start being a crew chief for us?           

JIMMY FENNIG:  What year? I'm trying to think, '97.           

JACK ROUSH:  '97. So Jimmy's been a crew chief with us longer than anybody else. So he's worked with a lot of different drivers and he and Matt are as good a combination of driver and crew chief as I've experienced in my 24 years here.           

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by winning crew chief Jimmy Fennig. Jimmy, talk about tonight, and also the adjustments you have to make seeing that this is the first night race here at TMS?           

JIMMY FENNIG:  Well, basically, we kind of tweaked on it a little bit. The car wasn't perfect all night. We didn't get it perfect. But the speed seemed to be there, so we didn't want to go overboard. We were just creeping up a little bit here, a little bit there and what air pressure there was. So that was about it all night.           

Q. For Matt and Jimmy, obviously, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart gambled, hoping they could make it to the end on fuel. I think that's the way that everyone thought that was the only way anyone was going to beat you guys tonight. So, Jimmy, did you have any doubt that they might make it? What did you tell Matt? Can you think that you were okay that they were both good going to make it. It ended up Tony had the pit row penalty. But did you think that you were in any trouble with those guys being able to make it?         

JIMMY FENNIG:  Well, Kurt, I figured we knew he was going to have to stop. I didn't know about Tony if he was going to make it to the end or not. I think he would have. But it would have been close. Kurt we figured he was going to be short anyways. So that's what we're up against.            

Q. Matt, this is all predictable. I could ask you about the race maybe not being that exciting, and you would say from where I was sitting, it was a very exciting race and we hear this all the time. My question is from personal satisfaction when you win and you just kick everybody's tail, does it give you more satisfaction than other kinds of wins? Does it give you a great deal of pride just to kick ass out there?           

MATT KENSETH:  Well, the first, on the racing part, it sounds dumb, but I didn't see it. You know what I mean? We had such good track position and pit stops and pit strategy and qualified well, so we really never got behind, which is obviously a big advantage for us.    

The race track tonight was a lot different than it was last year. This tire really changed the surface a lot, I thought. And I think it would have been a little tougher to come from behind.           

So, anyway, yeah, it always feels good to win no matter how you can win. More times than not, the fastest car ends up winning, and I thought that happened tonight. I was real worried about Tony's deal. Of course, I worry about everything; right, Jimmy?           

But we had a fast car. And did it and had track position. When he was in front of me, I was trying pretty hard to get back by him, and it took a while until he slipped to get by him. So it was important for us to make some ground. The way Jimmy pitted the race, it made ground the way we needed to and gave us a little bit of a cushion.          

Q. After the win, we heard you tell your crew that you didn't think you were going to be able to do this again, which struck me because I think after you won Daytona two years ago you said a few days earlier you had the same discussion with your wife that I didn't think I could win a race again. Does this give you solace or have you reached the point in your career where every one of these you're going to savor because you don't know if it's going to come around again?        

MATT KENSETH:  I've enjoyed every one of them. Daytona's kind of different, but we went to California the next week and won. It was huge for me. In a way, it was almost of a race car and racing standpoint. It was bigger than Daytona. It wasn't a bigger win, but it was because that's what you have to do every week. You only do plate racing four times.          

So, you know, I felt better the last six months. Everything's been looking up. Certainly the previous 12 months before that was frustrating for me. As you start to get older and with the results and it's been over two years since we won. You can't help but think, "Is this the way it's going to go? Are we going to keep trickling backwards?"

You keep working as hard as you can at it. And you try to get the cars going the best you can, and hopefully have some more chances to win. But certainly it gives you a lot of confidence, and it's a big relief to get back to Victory Lane and break that winless streak.

It's been a long time, and we've had a lot of fun going to the racetrack here the last two months the last year, and the first part of this year it feels like we're back into a contending form.

Q. Can you talk about how your relationship with Jimmy has evolved? Can you define --

MATT KENSETH:  Not with him sitting here (laughing).

Q. Can you define Hammerhead?

MATT KENSETH:  No, I'm not going to do that right now. My relationship with Jimmy has been good. It's always been good. Jimmy said he came out in 1997, so I guess it was the first year. I have Mark Martin to thank for sitting here. He saw me race and talked to jack about me, and Jack gave me the opportunity to come over here.

In that first year, it was '97 and '98, is when the testing rules were different, they used to let me come and hang out at the test. And I'd say in the hotel with the guys and I'd hang out with Jimmy a lot and ask him a lot of questions. I was probably like that pesky little kid. He was probably tired of answering questions.

But I'd hang out and spend as much time as I could when I'd go to the track and test. So I've known Jimmy and respected Jimmy for what he's done for a lot of reasons for a long time.

Q. Tonight was your second victory here at the Texas Motor Speedway, and your 12th Top 10 finish in 18 races here. Matt, what is it about this track that, for you, you just do so well here? What is it about Texas Motor Speedway that makes you a good race car driver here?

MATT KENSETH:  Well, I don't really know why we do better here than some other tracks. But the thing that makes you a good race car driver are fast race cars. So I've had really fast cars coming here, and great engines and crews and teams and all that.

So that certainly makes my job a lot easier. I think there are some tracks that for whatever reason you have a better feel at. You can probably give better feedback, and better information, and help your guys maybe more so than others. 

Martinsville, it feels like between Martinsville and Sears Point are probably my worst two tracks for that. We had a great car last week, and probably the fastest car I've had at Martinsville, at least in the top two or three cars at Martinsville and got behind because I made a mental error in the beginning.  

So that is the kind of track that I can tell Jimmy what the car's doing, but I can't really help him much, which I think makes his job a lot harder. Where when I come here, and I feel like I can help him a little bit more, and I know the feel that I'm looking for which probably helps him a little bit.

Q. Is there any coincidence that your Green Bay Packers came to this area not too long ago to Dallas and won a Super Bowl? Did you think about that at all coming into this race and did you get a chance to go to the game?

MATT KENSETH:  I did not go to the game. My wife told me I could go to the game, and she was mad at me that I didn't go because she said I'm going to give her a hard time about it, but I did not go.

She was pregnant. She was due about two weeks after the Super Bowl, and the last thing I needed to do was land in Dallas and have her call me and tell me she was on the way to the hospital by herself, and I had to go to Daytona the next week and all that.

So I figured I'd stay home and watch it on TV. But we had a great time and had some friends over. To have the Packers win the Super Bowl was huge.

'96 was the last time they went, and I didn't have enough money in '96 to get a ticket or fly to a race or do any of that stuff or fly to the game, and I always said if they ever went again, once I made enough money where I could do that, I was going to go.

So I'm hoping they can go back again. Last time they went, they went two years in a row, so hopefully they can play football this year and hopefully they can make it back.

Q. Less than a minute after the race ended, Ross (Kenseth’s son) put on Twitter, "I guess the old man can still get up on the wheel." How old is Ross now?

MATT KENSETH:  17, yeah.

Q. Even in most of your victories when you've had really good cars, tonight's win was very un-Kenseth-like in that you led so many laps and thoroughly dominated the race. Was the car so good that you could not run anywhere but first, most of the night?

MATT KENSETH:  The car was really good, but starting there made a big difference. If we had started 20th or 24th where I used to qualify all the time, we wouldn't have led all the laps, obviously. It would have taken us a lot longer to get to the front. Hopefully we would have still gotten to the front.

So that was a big advantage. Qualifying is really important with cars, and Jimmy has really turned me into a better qualifier more times than not. We've been doing better the last six months than what I used to do. Our starting position keeps improving, which is really important these days, so that's part of it.

We've had a couple like this, but not a lot. Vegas is one that comes to mind, and that was a long time ago. It was, I think '03, where we felt like we were straightaway ahead all night, and the car was just about perfect.

But yeah, you don't get a lot of days in today's competition level where you can lead that many laps and dominate a race and get a win.

Q. You had been kind of behind the scenes with Roush until you hooked up with Matt. Did you ever think you'd get back to this point at this level? Did you ever want to get back into the crew chief game at the Cup level? Did you ever think you'd experience this again?

JIMMY FENNIG:  Well, you know, yeah, I'm glad I'm back here and I'm glad I'm with Matt Kenseth driving the race car because it makes my job easy. But whatever Jack wants me to do, that's what I'll do.

But I'm really enjoying working with Matt, and hopefully we win some more races.


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Posted on: April 10, 2011 1:21 am
Edited on: April 10, 2011 1:23 am

Bowyer, Edwards post Texas comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

We're now joined in the Samsung Mobile Media Center by tonight's second place finisher, Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet. Clint, it's your best career finish at TMS, your third Top 5 finish here, talk about your night.

CLINT BOWYER:  It was a good night, a good weekend. Really proud of everybody on this Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet. We've come on, we've had solid runs and we're clicking now. That's what it takes in this sport. You've got to be able to get on a momentum swing, get some confidence built back up, and you have to start with that.

Just so proud of everybody for digging in deep, and bringing in good equipment to the racetrack, and you know having great finishes. I got in the lead there, and got away from him once, but I was driver, you know, as hard as I possibly could to stay in front of him, obviously.

I got into the 83 car, and about ruined our night for us. But it was a solid run. It was a run we could be proud of.

Q. Clint, how about that incident with the 83?

CLINT BOWYER:  It was big.

Q. It could have been a lot bigger?


Q. Did you come up on him faster than you thought?

CLINT BOWYER:  I had a run. And it was so important to get around those guys as soon as you got to them. They just slowed you down so much. It took me a couple of laps and I slowed down 2.5 tenths. And he was starting to catch me.

I just forced the issue a little too much. Got loose underneath, having got into him, and almost ruined the night. Did you see that? It was dirt tracking it. At its best, in the middle of the straightaway. Not supposed to do that.

CARL EDWARDS:  I didn't see the straightaway.

CLINT BOWYER:  Oh, you didn't?

CARL EDWARDS:  I saw Matt get under there. You did that to me.


CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, you got by me.

CLINT BOWYER:  I'm sorry.

CARL EDWARDS:  You're not sorry.

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Scotts Ford. It's his fourth Top 5 finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Carl, talk about your night?

CARL EDWARDS:  Our car was really loose all night. Man, we struggled. It seemed like we put on a set of tires, made a small adjustment and the car would be way different. I don't know what adjustment was making the car change so much.

But we worked pretty hard, and it just went our way. Third was about the best we could hope for, and coming out of here with the points lead and a trip to Victory Lane is a good trip to Texas for us.

Q. Two things real quick. Could you talk about the heat? Some of the guys were talking about how hot it was and needing water early on, what was that like?

CLINT BOWYER:  That was one of the hottest times I've ever had in the car. It's early in the season, and those guys are a little reluctant to put all the fans in the car that Carl has in his. And, you know, makes him look like Superman all the time. You know, that's pretty much what it is.

More than anything, my feet were burning up. There is a lot of stuff they're doing for weight and everything else. It's early in the season, and they just figured they don't need to put it in until it gets hot in the summer. But I'd say my boys will be putting that stuff back in.  I think Kevin was hot too, so it's kind of a common thing with the RCR cars.

Q. What has Kevin's wins the last couple of weeks done to start a fire for all you guys that didn't get off to the best of starts with the RCR?

CLINT BOWYER:  You've got to give credit where credit's due. It's the set-up that we have in our car. We owe a lot to them. They came over to RCR, and had a good package, a good baseline package. We didn't go down that path for a few weeks. We were out to lunch. We switched over to their stuff, and you know, it's worked out good for us.

Proud of their race team. It's been an asset to RCR so far, and we hope to continue it that way.

Q. For both of you, how did the wind affect you out there especially coming off the backstretch into three and four?

CARL EDWARDS:  It's pretty serious. My car started moving around a lot like three quarters into the race. I was like what the heck is that? It's like the wind got stiffer throughout the race maybe. So it's a pretty big factor, I thought.

CLINT BOWYER:  It was weird. Whatever your car was, it was the handful you had into three. If it was tight, it was really tight. If it was loose, it almost pushed you around backwards getting in. So that's what you thought. It just amplified the problem.

Q. Were you going for the Pepto Bismol sponsorship? What was wrong?

CARL EDWARDS:  I was a little sick this morning, and I thought I was all right. My stomach was messed up about 50 laps in.

CLINT BOWYER:  What did you eat last night?

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, my mom made a little dish. I don't think one of the ingredients was bad. I think it might have been her first attempt at it.

CLINT BOWYER:  I'll cook for you next week.

CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, I bet.

Q. Was there an ultimate result you want to talk about?

CARL EDWARDS:  No, I'd rather not talk about the details. I'm good. No, I kept everything in, so we were okay.

I knew in this white fire suit I had to be careful, so...

Q. Carl, did you feel like that you pretty much spent the entire race making in-race adjustments?

CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, we were trying really hard to get the car right, and we never did. That's why Bob and I are so happy with third. It was the best result with the balance that was that far off that we've probably ever had. I think everybody was struggling a lot. It was kind of who struggled the least.

Yeah, we worked hard.

Q. Carl, was there any point early on where you wondered am I going to have to get out of this thing? Was it ever that bad?

CARL EDWARDS: If I were from Kansas or something, we might think about that. But we don't do that where I'm from.

No, I didn't think about that. If it would have gotten worse, Ricky Stenhouse was standing by for child birthing relief duties.

CLINT BOWYER:  So you did have a standby driver, the all mighty Carl Edwards.

CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, but no, I wasn't going to get out of the car. We were running too well.

Q. Did you guys really hit a bird early on? I mean, you guys went through everything tonight.

CARL EDWARDS:  I didn't see any feathers, but Bob said there were some feathers on the front, which being sponsored by a duck, that's not good. So we’ll leave that be. It probably did not happen.

Q. You won in Las Vegas. Now Matt's won here. All four of the cars finished in the top seven on a big 1.5 mile oval. That's got to give you guys a lot of confidence going forward going through the track being so dominant in the series?

CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, I was a little nervous after Martinsville. We came here and ran like we did at Vegas. There were times when all the Roush cars, I think they were 1, 2, 3, and I was running 6th or 7th. So our cars are good right now. We're enjoying it. We've just got to keep it going.


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Posted on: April 10, 2011 12:39 am
Edited on: April 10, 2011 1:43 am

Speed Read: Samsung Mobile 500

By Pete Pistone

  Samsung Mobile 500 Results

If you don’t remember the last time Matt Kenseth went to victory lane don’t feel so bad. Even the 2003 Sprint Cup champion had a hard time recollecting his last checkered flag.

“Over two years, I didn’t know if I’d get a chance to get here again,” Kenseth said in victory lane after his Samsung Mobile 500 triumph Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway referring to his February of 2009 win in Fontana.

In somewhat typical Kenseth style his 19th career victory was understated even though he led a race-high 169 laps. He had a dominating car, got shuffled back during some fuel strategy runs by others that eventually failed and then finally inherited his rightful place as the leader with 13 laps remaining to go on to victory lane.

“I really want to thank (crew chief) Jimmy (Fennig) and this whole team for working as hard as they do for this victory," said Kenseth. "I have to thank Crown Royal Black and all the fans up there. We had a packed house up there and it might not have been the closest finish, but it was great racing all night.”

Kenseth was understandably pleased with the performance but his assessment of “great racing” wasn’t exactly 100 percent accurate.

The 500-mile grind around the 1.5-mile Texas track had its share of long runs without much in the way of passing or side-by-side racing.

But like the two other intermediate track stops this year at Las Vegas and Fontana, that kind of goes with the territory.

On the upside the grandstands were packed on a hot and beautiful Texas evening and the track’s first-ever Cup race under the stars was a box office if not artistic success.

Kenseth or the legion of Ford fans downright giddy over the manufacturer’s new found muscle in the Cup series could care about any of that choosing only to focus on the win and the leap up the point standings that now finds the driver of the No. 17 entry third.

'The goal every year is to win a championship and you can’t do that if you aren’t in the Chase so we have been pretty good over the last four weeks and now we have a pretty dominating win," added Kenseth. "Hopefully we can carry this momentum back to victory lane a couple of times.”

If Kenseth is successful in that quest it’s likely no one will notice until he’s handed the winner’s trophy in victory lane.



Paul Menard

After a couple of down weeks the Richard Childress Racing driver returned to the front of the field and turned in a very impressive fifth place finish. RCR has proven itself to be a force on the intermediate-sized tracks this year, which could bode well for Menard continuing his early-season surprise run toward the top of the point standings.

Marcos Ambrose

Like his run at Las Vegas in March, Ambrose had a strong night on the 1.5-mile Texas track Saturday night. In a short time Ambrose has proven that being part of the resurgent Ford camp on intermediate tracks is beneficial and more than likely the popular Australian is looking forward to May’s trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway – TMS’ sister track.

David Ragan

Showed his first career pole position was no fluke with a stellar run Saturday night that included the UPS Ford running upfront much of the night and coming home with a much-needed Top 10 finish. Ragan admits he’s on the hot seat at Roush and more performances like his Texas visit will be a big step for the Georgia driver to stay in the team’s plans.



Martin Truex Jr.

For the second straight week Truex was fortunate to walk away from a severe crash uninjured. A race after he hit the wall a ton at Martinsville, Truex was the victim of a multi-car pile-up in a chain reaction crash on the backstretch and in the aftermath fell further down the point standings.

Brian Vickers

Won’t be on Clint Bowyer’s holiday gift list this season after nearly causing a major crash between the two racing down the front stretch. It’s been an up and down return to full-time Sprint Cup status for Vickers who has had a couple of good performances but more than his share of struggles as well.

Joey Logano

The driver who ended last season as one of the hottest is but a memory in the first part of 2011. Logano had all kinds of issues Saturday night including pit road problems and drove his battered car home to a very disappointing 24th place finish. Aside from Kyle Busch, the Sprint Cup effort for Joe Gibbs Racing has been a challenge to say the least in the early going.



(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs) 

“One day we'll get a car to stick on the racetrack. One day." – Kurt Busch

"It's been there a while." – Kyle Busch on debris on the race track

“It's too loose, too loose. If you can, find anything to settle my stomach..." – Kurt Busch

"Gotta fix my fender. He's a dumbass." – Clint Bowyer on Brian Vickers

“Not too bad of a day! Missed a big wreck, kept the car scratch free, and finished 17th.” – Trevor Bayne 



On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500 a three. Somewhat typical 500-mile race at a 1.5-mile track that turned into a fuel mileage drama before any kind of rip roaring, side-by-side battle for position. The Roush brigade flexed its muscles, the lights were bright under the Texas sky to make for a sometimes beautiful setting but outside of Kenseth finally getting back to victory lane the first trip to Texas in 2011 wasn’t anywhere near as memorable as the last race back in November.



Restrictor plate race number two of the season is on tap when the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday afternoon. Will we see the same two-car tandem draft that dominated at Daytona or will the packs of 30 cars that have been the norm at Talladega be on display? That’s the big question as NASCAR makes its annual spring trek to Alabama.



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Posted on: April 9, 2011 10:06 am

Video of the Day: drivers preview Texas

Posted by Pete Pistone

Sprint Cup drivers size up Saturday night's first-ever night race at Texas Motor Speedway and their chances in the Samsung Mobile 500:

Posted on: April 8, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: April 9, 2011 10:02 am

Ragan claims first career pole

By Pete Pistone

David Ragan won his first career Sprint Cup Series pole Friday night in qualifying for the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Ragan will be paired with Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards on the front row for Saturday night's seventh race of the Sprint Cup Series season and first-ever night race at TMS:

Samsung Mobile 500 Starting Lineup

David Ragan won the Coors Light Pole Award for the 15th Annual Samsung Mobile 500 with a lap of 28.448 seconds, 189.820 mph.

This is his first pole in 153 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

This is his first pole and third top-10 start in 2011.

This is his first pole in nine races at Texas Motor Speedway. He won a Nationwide Series pole here in 2007.

Carl Edwards (second) posted his fourth top10 start of 2011 and his fifth in 13 races at Texas Motor Speedway.

Clint Bowyer (third) posted his sixth top 10 start at Texas Motor Speedway. 

Andy Lally (43rd) was the fastest qualifying rookie. 

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Posted on: April 8, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 4:59 pm

Kahne tops Texas Happy Hour

Posted by Pete Pistone

Samsung Mobile 500 Final Practice

1. Kasey Kahne 183.899 mph

2. Paul Menard 183.892 mph

3. Carl Edwards 183.755 mph

4. Kurt Busch 183.692 mph

5. Regan Smith 183.617 mph

6. David Ragan 183.567 mph

7. Denny Hamlin 183.436 mph

8. Marcos Ambrose 183.355 mph

9. Mark Martin 183.045 mph

10. A.J. Allmendinger 183.001 mph

11. Clint Bowyer 182.933 mph

12. Tony Stewart 182.766 mph

13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 182.704 mph

14. Juan Pablo Montoya 182.611 mph

15. Jeff Gordon 182.248 mph

16. Matt Kenseth 182.137 mph

17. Brad Keselowski 181.935 mph

18. Trevor Bayne 181.886 mph

19. Brian Vickers 181.726 mph

20. David Reutimann 181.665 mph

21. Ryan Newman 181.610 mph

22. Martin Truex Jr. 181.555 mph

23. Jamie McMurray 181.543 mph

24. Bobby Labonte 181.415 mph

25. J.J. Yeley 181.281 mph

26. Kyle Busch 181.117 mph

27. Kevin Harvick 180.971 mph

28. Michael McDowell 180.959 mph

29. Robby Gordon 180.747 mph

30. Greg Biffle 180.602 mph

31. Casey Mears 180.560 mph

32. Joe Nemechek 180.475 mph

33. Landon Cassill 180.288 mph

34. Mike Skinner 180.234 mph

35. Joey Logano 180.180 mph

36. David Starr 180.108 mph

37. Dave Blaney 179.874 mph

38. Jimmie Johnson 179.587 mph

39. Ken Schrader 179.456 mph

40. David Gilliland 179.110 mph

41. Jeff Burton 179.099 mph

42. Andy Lally 178.796 mph

43. Travis Kvapil 178.566 mph

44. Tony Raines 175.177 mph

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Posted on: April 8, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: April 8, 2011 12:02 pm

Texas race preview

By Pete Pistone


Denny Hamlin’s been in this position before, in fact just last week at Martinsville.

Struggling through a disappointing start to the season, Hamlin thought he’d have an excellent chance to turn his fortunes around at his home track with another victory at the Virginia short track.

But although he was near the front of the field for some of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at the end of the day more frustrations added up to a 12th place finish at what had been Hamlin’s playground.

Fast forward to Texas Motor Speedway and Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500.

Hamlin swept both races at the 1.5-mile track last season and rides into the seventh race of the year as one of the favorites to win and run his victory streak to three.

And sitting in 19th place in the standings 74 points behind his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, that expected performance is almost mandatory for Hamlin to turn his fortunes around.

It’s not unlike the very same spot Hamlin found himself in when the series rolled into Texas last year.

Fresh off knee surgery, Hamlin was able to rebound in a big way with a win that he believes was the turnaround to the season.

“It was a really big win for me and this team because it came really soon after my knee surgery and I think everyone was looking at me and the No. 11 team and wondering if we could get through it and really compete – or if our season was over,” Hamlin said. “So to go to a place like Texas where we hadn’t won, and with all that was going on away from track, and win was huge.”

Hamlin looks back fondly at the way his Texas success literally jump-started his season and propelled him into championship contention.

"Texas was very instrumental in two different ways," Hamlin said. "One, it was the turning-around point of our season the first time around. It was the point in which we were, you know, we had just come off knee surgery, we were terrible in points, and then all of a sudden we won. Then all of a sudden it was a snowball effect and (we) started winning a bunch of races at different tracks.

"Then at the end of the year it was the point where we got back on top and got the points lead so for me it was—there's a lot of good memories here, and every time I come here I always seem to have some good memories."

He desperately needs to add to those memories on Saturday night in order not to face a Texas-sized climb just to get back into this year’s championship picture.


Texas Motor Speedway

Track Size: 1.5-miles

Race Length: 501 Miles

Banking/Straights: 5 degrees

Banking/Corners: 24 degrees


Race Facts

There have been 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway, one per season from 1997 through 2004 and two races per year

since 2005.

Four drivers have competed in all 20 Texas races: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin.

Jeremy Mayfield was the first pole winner, in 1998. Qualifying for the inaugural race in 1997 was canceled.

Jeff Burton won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

14 drivers have scored poles, led by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bobby Labonte, Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon with two.

16 drivers have won races, led by Carl Edwards, with three. Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton each have two wins.

14 of 20 races have been won from a top-10 starting position. Only one has been won from the pole (Kasey Kahne in 2006).

Matt Kenseth started 31st en route to his victory at Texas in 2002, the deepest in the field that a race winner has started.

Both Jeff Burton (1997) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2000) scored their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Texas, and 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne made his first series start at Texas (11/07/10).

Martin Truex Jr. scored his first series pole at Texas (11/04/07).

Three of the last four races have had a margin of victory under one second.

Denny Hamlin (8.8) and Matt Kenseth (9.3) are the only two active drivers to average a top-10 finish.

Roush Fenway Racing leads all owners in victories, with seven. Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports have three wins each.

There has been two season sweeps, by Carl Edwards in 2008 and Denny Hamlin in 2010. 


Who’s Hot at Texas

Matt Kenseth – Has seven Top 10 finishes in his last eight starts at Texas Motor Speedway. Kenseth has a 9.5 average finish in his 17 career TMS starts and won back in 2002. He finished eleventh in the year’s only other 1.5-mile track race at Las Vegas in March.

Denny Hamlin – Comes into Texas on a two race winning streak after sweeping both races in the Lone Star State a year ago. Hamlin has a average finish of 8.8 in eleven career starts. But he’s fallen on hard times of late and sits 19th in the point standings heading into race number seven of the season.

Carl Edwards – The only driver with three career wins at Texas, Edwards swept the pair of races at the track in 2008. His average finish is only 17.7 in twelve starts thanks to his last three runs of 39th, 33rd and 19th.


Who’s Not

Juan Pablo Montoya – His solid start to the season may be challenged Saturday night at Texas where Montoya has only been able to muster a 25.1 average finish in eight starts. His best finish was seventh but was 34th and 28th a year ago.

Brad Keselowski – Five career Cup starts have added up to only a best run of 14th. Keselowski has a disappointing 24.8 average finish TMS record.

Joey Logano – His fourth place run in last November’s Texas race was the lone bright start for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver at the track. A 24.2 average finish in five career starts is on Logano’s record. 



Construction of Texas Motor Speedway began in 1995.

The first NASCAR race was a NASCAR Nationwide Series event on April 5, 1997.

The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was on April 6, 1997.


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com