NASCAR returns to Texas
The NASCAR teams were racing in the Lone Star state this past weekend. Over the off-season the Texas Motor Speedway underwent a major reconstruction and repave.
Banking was reduced from turns one and two and the pit road was improved. The new pavement was not very forgiving but it was super-fast.
The cars were reaching more than 200 mph entering the turns, and just a slight miscalculation and cars were spinning out of control and several found the safer barriers. This caused a number of teams to go to back-up cars. The inspection room caused issues once again and several Monster Energy Cup teams were unable to make qualifying runs. This caused teams to start from the rear of the field Sunday.
On Saturday, the Xfinity series took to the track for the My Bariatric Solutions 300. Erik Jones was fast in his JGR Toyota and captured the pole for the race. He took the early lead and won the first stage. Teenager William Byron driving for Jr Motorsports moved to the front and held on to win stage two. Finally an Xfinity regular grabbed the points and a bonus point for a stage.
At the finish Erik Jones pulled away to the victory over Ryan Blaney. Cup stars Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon finished third and fourth, respectively. Cole Custer finished fifth. Darrell Bubba Wallace Jr. grabbed his fifth straight sixth-place finish. Xfinity regulars filled out the top 10. William Byron, Ty Dillon, Matt Tifft and Elliott Sadler finished up in eighth through 10th.
The Xfinity teams have the Easter weekend off. On April 22, “It’s Bristol Baby!” as teams will take on the challenging high-banked half-mile short track.
On Sunday, the Monster Energy Cup drivers took to the track for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Ryan Blaney put the Wood Bros. Ford on the outside pole and looked to be the car to beat, winning both stages. However, it was the Hendrick Motorsports Chevy of Jimmie Johnson that drove away from the field for the victory.
Kyle Larson passed more cars than everyone during the race. He was sent to the back of the field three times. He mounted a real challenge and finished second. He was turning the fastest laps at the end but ran out of laps as he was closing on Johnson.
Joey Logano used strategy to finish third. His crew chief decided to leave him out when a late race caution flew. Joey had pitted first and only had nine laps on his tires when the caution fell. Kevin Harvick ran strong also, finishing fourth.
Jr. Nation had something to get excited about. Dale Jr. grabbed his first top five and really ran well all day, finishing up fifth.
The Cup teams will also have the Easter Weekend off before attacking the high banks at Bristol also. It seems to me that each time Jimmy Johnson wins it’s a snoozer of a race.
Maybe this is a tribute to the domination of this team when it all comes together for them. It was just a thought — whether you like him or not, he has put himself in contention for championship number eight with this victory.
You never can count that 48 team out.
In “somewhat local” racing, the Legendary Hilltop Speedway kicked off its year in Ohio and Tyler Carpenter grabbed the super late model feature.
Tyler County was also supposed to race last week but I’ve been unable to gather any results from either track for the other division’s races.
It will be only a few weeks until we will hear Thunder in the Mountains from Elkins Raceway. I need to get back in the garage because at the end of the straightaway there’s Another Left Turn.