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Goodyear won’t be able to do Texas Motor Speedway tire test after repave

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Goodyear stated that it will not be able to conduct a tire test at Texas Motors Speedway following completion of the repave and reconfiguration project the track announced Friday morning.

In addition to the repave, the track is reducing the banking in Turns 1 and 2 from 24 degrees to 20 degrees. The racing surface’s width will expand from 60 to 80 feet in those turns. The banking and racing surface in Turns 3 and 4 will not change.

The project – which begins Monday – is scheduled for completion in early March, but Goodyear said in a statement that the narrow window before NASCAR’s April 7-9 race dates at Texas prevents the tire manufacturer from holding a test.

“We have been kept completely in the loop as the folks at SMI and Texas Motor Speedway considered this move and now, with the announcement that they will both repave and reconfigure their track starting next week, there is no question Goodyear will have to bring a new tire set-up for the NASCAR weekend scheduled there in April,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s Director of Racing, in the statement.

“Because of the tight schedule, we will not have time to do a tire test at Texas, so we will look at the details of the new configuration and understand the asphalt mix that will be used, which is planned to be similar to what was used most recently at Kentucky. That being said, this project will take on a similar feel to the one at Kentucky because that was also both a repave and reconfiguration.’

Kentucky Speedway underwent a repave last year while also altering the banking in Turns 1 and 2.

“Having that recent history, along with our experience with a wide range of track configurations and surfaces – including many that have been repaved over the recent years – we will determine the appropriate tire set-up in advance of the event, giving teams plenty of time to prepare.”

During the track’s announcement, Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, said “it would probably be wise” for NASCAR to have an extended race weekend in order for teams to prepare for the new configuration.

“We’re going to strongly encourage Goodyear to test and not just bring a hard tire,” Gossage said. “That would a mistake. We’re going to work hard to try to get Goodyear to do that.”

Currently, Goodyear has seven tire tests planned for the year, six of them involving Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams. One test occurs the week of the Texas race, at Michigan International Speedway.

Here are Goodyear’s planned test dates:

– Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Jan. 10-11
– Michigan International Speedway: April 4-5
– Indianapolis Motor Speedway: April 25-26
– Kentucky Speedway: May 9-10
– Eldora Speedway (Trucks): May 15-16
– Chicagoland Speedway: June 6-7
– Atlanta Motor Speedway: August 8-9

NASCAR America: Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones get a feel of how Olympians train (video)

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NASCAR drivers talk almost continuously about how they have to be in top physical condition to endure sometimes often very difficult conditions while on a racetrack and behind the wheel.

One only needs to look at seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson to see the rewards of being fit.

But going to one of the Olympic training centers in the U.S. is a whole other thing, something that separates folks who think they’re fit from those that really are.

Ask Toyota drivers like Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, who recently participated in a two-day training session at an Olympic training facility.

We wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still nursing sore muscles, given the workouts they endured – and which gave them new appreciation for what many Olympians must go through to be the best.

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NASCAR America: Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch ready for Daytona fireworks (video)

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NASCAR’s summer classic, the Coke Zero 400, celebrates this country’s independence, its military heroes and concludes with a great fireworks show.

But as Clint Bowyer and this year’s Daytona 500 winner, Kurt Busch, will vouch for, there’s also a lot of fireworks during the race, as the 2.5-mile, high-banked tri-oval can be one of the most difficult and intimidating places to race upon.

If a driver isn’t dodging fellow drivers, he or she is trying to stay in the draft to gain forward movement and momentum. Unfortunately, a lot of times when dodging and draft collide, so too do a lot of cars and drivers, as well.

It may not be the Daytona 500, but winning at Daytona in July is still a big prize that everyone wants to win. And don’t forget, because it’s Daytona, it’s also a place to be careful at because of the danger that can pop up at any moment.

Find out why by clicking on the above video.

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NASCAR America: Steve Letarte kicks off weekly feature honoring pit crews (video)

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They’re the unsung heroes of NASCAR, the guys who typically don’t get enough praise when things go right, and then oftentimes have the finger of blame pointed at them when things go wrong.

We’re talking about one of the most important jobs in NASCAR: pit crew member.

Starting with Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, a guy who knows a lot about pit crews – former crew chief turned NBC NASCAR analyst Steve Letarte – kicked off a feature that will run each week for the 20 remaining weeks of the season.

Letarte’s series will spotlight the importance of pit crews, and he’ll also choose pit crew all-stars to recognize their contributions to the sport and their perseverance on pit road.

This week’s first bunch of pit crew all-stars are Caleb Hurd, gasman for Denny Hamlin; Jeff Zarella, tire specialist for Kurt Busch and Frank Mathalia, engine tuner for Austin Dillon.

Give them and their peers some love and check out the above video.

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants one final Daytona win for himself and his father (video)

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Daytona International Speedway has been a bittersweet place for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It’s been the place of his biggest NASCAR Cup career wins, including the Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014.

But it’s also the same place where he lost his father  in a last-lap wreck in the 2001 Daytona 500.

Now, Earnhardt returns to the “World Center of Speed” for what will be the final time in his 18-year NASCAR Cup career.

On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Earnhardt reflected upon all the good and bad Daytona has meant to him and his family.

On his first time back to Daytona after his father’s death nearly five months earlier: “Once we got to Daytona, we drove by the racetrack, pulled in, parked in Turn 3, got out and walked around. The track was empty, quiet and I’d never been to the crash site. That’s where dad, in my mind, lost his life. That was where we all remember him last.”

Returning to Daytona for the first time after his father’s death there: “I felt like that was a place I wanted to visit. And every time I go to Daytona, even today, I go around that racetrack, I look at that spot, I look at that knoll of grass before the exit of Turn 4. I wanted to go there and see how I felt and see what kind of emotions happened so that I could get whatever was going to be out of the way.

“I told myself what I was going through is the same sadness that some guy somewhere in the Midwest is dealing with right now. Who am I to go on and on about how hard it was, because somebody, somewhere right now is dealing with a loss.”

How he wishes his father was still here to see the man and driver he’s become: “I’d have loved it if he’d stuck around a lot longer, but that’s not the way it was supposed to be. And we figured out how to make it (when he won the 2001 Coke Zero 400 in his father’s honor).”

On wanting to win one last time at Daytona in a Cup car this Saturday night: “I’d love to win at Daytona and add another win to the Earnhardt column. Every time I win there, I think it’s another win for me and dad because his success there stretches far beyond the Daytona 400 and July 400. But any time I win there, that’s one more stake in the ground that we claim this track as a place we dominate.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski