Upon Further Review: Everything is bigger in Texas, including the questions with repaved track

1 Comment

It has fewer than 1,000 views, but Texas Motor Speedway’s YouTube video of Chris Buescher driving a pace car on the repaved and reconfigured track is must-see viewing for NASCAR competitors.

Jimmie Johnson has watched it. So has Kyle Busch, among others.

Buescher is the only Cup driver who has driven on the track — at least until Friday when practice begins. With the repave project completed last month, there wasn’t time to have a Goodyear tire test or an open test for Xfinity and Cup teams.

It would be one thing if it was just a repave, but Texas Motor Speedway officials changed Turns 1 and 2. The banking in those corners decreased from 24 to 20 degrees. The width in those turns expanded from 60 to 80 feet. Turns 3 and 4 remain the same at 24 degree banking and a width of 60 feet.

In the video, Buescher noted that the radius in Turns 1 and 2 “is so tight we might end up moving a lane. Plenty of room on the exit of (Turn) 2. Just a ton of space to wash out to the wall. Typically, Turn 2 has been our problem area. The banking just falls away very abruptly. You’ve got it pinched on exit and you’re trying to get up off the corner. Now you have so much room.’’

Buescher says on the video that cars could go five wide into Turn 1 on restarts since that part of the track has been expanded.

For all the changes, though, one thing hasn’t. The bump over the tunnel between Turns 3 and 4 remains, Buescher said on the video.

“After watching (the Buescher video), I’m excited, I’m not sure where we will run and why we will run there, but it’s a much different Turns 1 and 2,’’ said Johnson, who has won three of the last five Texas races. “I think it brings some fun and excitement to that track. Obviously, with our success there, I hate to see it repaved and hate to see all the bumps gone and all that went with it. It worked so well for us, but I’m excited to get there and see what it kind of provides to us.”

Busch, who won at Texas a year ago, has a different attitude.

“I hate repaves,’’ he said. “But it’s a part of our schedule, it’s a part of our sport. Five years from now, six years from now, it’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to that aspect of it.

“Right out of the gate, going there, trying to put rubber down, it’s slick, man. It’s so treacherous, hard to get a hold of, hard to understand what you’re feeling with your car, ’cause you can think your tight, you got all the grip in the world, you’re going around the corner, then boom, it just busts loose right out from under you with no warning. That’s the worst thing.

“There’s really no homework to do. You can’t even watch last year’s races, you can’t look at anything besides the Buescher YouTube video and just see what the place looks like so you don’t go in there blind. That’s about it.”

Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick, tweeted Tuesday that there was a way to prepare for Texas — watch video of last year’s Kentucky race. That track was repaved before last year’s race. Cup and Xfinity teams will use the same left-side tire at Texas used last year at Kentucky. The right-side tire for Texas features the same tread compound used at Kentucky but has a minor construction change.

NASCAR will give teams additional practice time but they won’t have an additional day as they have had in the past when they’ve gone to tracks that have been repaved.

“I think the best racing is with less practice,’’ Joey Logano said. “When we actually have more practice, the field gets closer, and this sounds weird because you’d think you want all the cars to be the same speed to make a good race, but when all the cars are the same speed … (no one can pass)

This is one of those tracks we’ve done as much homework as we know how to do. What is Texas going to be? I don’t know but similar to Kentucky. We’ve got a lot of adjustments just in case.’’

Nate Ryan contributed to this story

 and on Facebook

Texas Truck race results: Carson Hocevar scores first series win

Texas Truck race results
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Carson Hocevar was in front after the leaders crashed in overtime and scored his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.

MORE: Texas Truck race results

Rookie Nick Sanchez, who led 168 of the 172-lap race, dueled reigning series champion Zane Smith on the last lap when Sanchez’s truck hit Smith’s. As Sanchez tried to regain control of his vehicle, he was hit from behind by Hocevar. That contact sent Sanchez into Smith. Christian Eckes also was collected.

Hocevar’s first win came in his 59th series start.

Chase Purdy placed second. Stewart Friesen finished third. Ty Majeski was fourth. Jake Garcia completed the top five.


Richmond Xfinity results, driver points


RICHMOND, Va. — Chandler Smith won a stage, led a race-high 83 laps and rallied late to score his first career Xfinity win Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

MORE: Richmond Xfinity results

MORE: Xfinity points after Richmond race

John Hunter Nemechek placed second. The rest of the top five featured Josh Berry, Kaz Grala and Cole Custer. Austin Hill, who had won three of the first six races of the season, placed ninth.

Hill continues to lead the points. He has a 12-point advantage on Riley Herbst and an 18-point lead on Nemechek heading into the next series race in two weeks at Martinsville.

Chandler Smith scores first career Xfinity win with Richmond victory


RICHMOND, Va. — Chandler Smith held off John Hunter Nemechek to win his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

The 20-year-old Smith took the lead with 12 laps to go and withstood a restart with six laps to go to earn the victory for Kaulig Racing.

MORE: Richmond race results, driver points

His victory came about a month after being passed for the lead with two laps to go at Las Vegas and finishing third day.

“It obviously wasn’t in God’s works for me that and I was fine with that, I was good with that,” said Smith, who will make his Cup debut Sunday. “I knew there was something bigger and better that He was playing it out for me and I just had to be faithful and keep on trucking. Here’s proof of it.”

Nemechek was second. Josh Berry placed third and was followed by Kaz Grala and Cole Custer.

Justin Allgaier finished 13th to win the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

“Today was weird because of how we finished,” Allgaier said. “Given the same circumstances a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, 13th wasn’t going to win the Dash 4 Cash but today it did.”

Stage 1 winner: Chandler Smith

Stage 2 winner: Josh Berry

Who had a good race: A caution caught Justin Allgaier a lap down, ending his chances for a top-five finish but he was able to bounce back and win the Dash 4 Cash for a fifth time. … Derek Kraus finished 10th in his Xfinity debut. … Chris Hacker placed 14th in his Xfinity debut.

Who had a bad race: Riley Herbst had his career-long streak of top-10 finishes snapped after nine races. He placed 23rd after he was hit and spun late in the race.

Notable: This is the second time in the last four races that there has been a first-time series winner. Sammy Smith scored his first series win last month at Phoenix.

Next: The series is off until April 15 at Martinsville Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Daniel Suarez, Ross Chastain move on from COTA incident


RICHMOND, Va. — Daniel Suarez says he’s been trying to “work on myself” after conflicts with teammate Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman last weekend at COTA but noted that if NASCAR doesn’t make adjustments with restarts on road courses, he’ll change his driving style.

NASCAR fined Suarez $50,000 on Wednesday for hitting another vehicle on pit road after the race. Suarez hit Chastain’s car at pit entrance and hit the back of Bowman’s car while they were both on pit road.

MORE: Cup starting lineup at Richmond 

“I’ve been trying to work on myself mostly during the week, trying to clear my mind and reset,” Suarez said Saturday at Richmond Raceway. “My team, we’re good. I think the issue wasn’t really with one driver. I feel like it’s more as an industry, how we are allowing to have those kind of bump-and-run restarts at the end of the races at road courses.

“I don’t think that’s right.”

Suarez restarted fifth in the second overtime restart. Alex Bowman, with Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe aligned behind, charged and got beside Suarez as they approached Turn 1.

As Bowman slowed to make the tight turn, he was hit from behind and that sent him into Suarez, who clipped the left rear of Martin Truex Jr.’s car. Truex spun in front of Suarez and blocked his path, allowing the rest of the field to go by. Suarez finished 27th.

Chastain said he and Suarez have moved on from last week’s incident after talking this week.

“Every household on this earth has their moments of arguments and we had ours,” Chastain said Saturday.

“We’re family. We’re in the same house, right. It’s in our name. It’s Trackhouse. No matter what, we all think we have to put that behind and know that moving forward we’re brothers. … We’re brothers at Trackhouse and we’re going to be stronger together.”

Suarez is among the number of drivers who have raised concerns about the rough driving in the series. The Next Gen car is more durable and can take more hits — as evident in the Clash at the Coliseum to start the year when drivers barreled into the back of cars in the corners to slow down.

Add the emphasis of winning, less respect for one another and the result is the type of racing on display at the end of the race at Circuit of the Americas, as drivers charged down a long straightaway before braking hard for a tight turn and making contact with one another.

So, what can be done?

“I don’t have the answers to that,” Suarez said. “All I know is that NASCAR is working toward trying to make a better solution for some of these restarts. It doesn’t look right. This sport looks embarrassing.

“That’s not real. Just go into the corner and bump three cars to push people out of that way, that’s not real. We know that. That’s how some people got top fives and top 10s last week and some of the guys that were fast, like myself, finished 27th.

“If NASCAR does something about it, that’s amazing. If they don’t I’ll just join the party.”