OBSERVATIONS: AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway
When it came to intermediate tracks on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule, Texas Motor Speedway was one that was circled as one to watch. The drivers covered all three grooves on the track, while track president Eddie Gossage entertained with his theatrics.
While those stunts may remain from Gossage, the track has lost it’s luster over the past two years since the reconfiguration and repave. The AAA Texas 500 now becomes a fight for the bottom groove, as drivers find it difficult to pass while racing on the racer’s edge. The result was a 501 mile race on Sunday afternoon strung out through the field without many battles for position.
The saving grace for the end of the event was a pair of cautions in the late stages, producing a pair of restarts that saw Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney battle for the top spot. The continued dominance from Harvick paid off as the mistakes which took him out of other events didn’t happen, and he made his way into victory lane to punch his ticket for Homestead-Miami Speedway.
His counterparts in THE BIG THREE weren’t so lucky with pit road speeding penalties and loose wheels taking both Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. out of contention for the win. Truex rebounded for a top-10, but Busch ultimately finished 17th. Those bonus points earned through victories and stage wins through the first 26 races are still paying, as the gap to the rest of the field is still significant. Ultimately, if one of them is set to be left on the outside of the Championship 4, that will have to happen courtesy of a win by one of the other four contenders.
The battle for championship does continue to get interesting, though. Joey Logano may be locked in for the Championship 4, but he’s making his life harder it may appear. After upsetting Truex with a late race bump-and-run at Martinsville, he made contact with Aric Almirola late at Texas.
“The 22 just went down in turn three and put it right on my door and about wrecked us both,” Almirola said post-race. “I am not sure. I will have to talk to him. He just continues to make things harder on himself. If that is the way he wants to race me when he is already locked into Homestead and we are out here fighting for our lives, that is fine. When Homestead comes around if I am not in, he will know it.”
Although the contact can be attributed to hard racing and the style of what Texas has become, one to has to ask – will it ultimately cost Logano at Homestead-Miami Speedway? We will see in a couple weeks.
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