Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway will mark the third Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race since the track was repaved before the 2017 season and there are still plenty of unknowns facing drivers.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Steve Letarte and Dale Jarrett sat down with Krista Voda at the Big Oak Table in Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America to discuss what should be expected.
“As the pace falls off, you slow down quite a bit,” Earnhardt said. “And the one thing I always liked about Texas was being able to move around. You can run anywhere on that race track from the very bottom to the very top. Since the repave, it’s narrowed up quite a bit, but with the Tire Dragon – the Tire Monster – they are definitely widening the groove out. I remember the last year I ran there, (Turn) 3 and 4 was really wide. You could get up in the middle and actually make some good time there.
“That track is aging rather quickly. I think they’re doing some good things – or must be doing some good things – to help that asphalt age to where it will get to where we’re back on the fence.”
Part of the repaving project included reshaping Turns 1 and 2. The impact of that has yet to be fully appreciated, according to Letarte.
“I think, as it widens out, it’s only going to make it a more difficult track with the two ends being so different,” Letarte said. “You talk about the speed at Texas; it was one thing when both ends were really fast. Well, now you run (Turn) 3 and 4 and you fly off Turn 4 and then you come down the frontstretch and it kind of suckers you in to overdrive Turn 1. It’s so flat, you’ve got to go almost to the apron.”
For more about the unknowns faced by the drivers this week, watch the video above.