Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Treacherous and Tricky Used to Describe New Texas Surface
When tracks get repaved, sometimes it is great while drivers don’t applaud others. Right now with Texas Motor Speedway, there seems to be mixed feelings.
The morning practice left drivers concerned, with Ryan Blaney noting it was “very sketchy getting into turn one” throughout the first hour of practice. While Eddie Gossage and his staff ran a tire machine around the track numerous times forming a groove, it left the asphalt above and below “treacherous” for drivers to handle.
“It’s so dirty outside the groove,” Kasey Kahne said. “Anywhere you go where there aren’t cars going constantly, it’s really slippery. We’re just going to do the best we can and hopefully get a really good balance tomorrow and stay out of trouble. Five hundred miles is a long time.”
Martin Truex Jr. felt they could’ve done a better job cleaning the track before the start of practice.
“The groove was really, really narrow,” he said. “You seen as soon as guys started pushing it in qualifying trim especially at the end of practice they get out of the groove a little bit, you’re done. There’s nothing you can do. It’s so slippery. I wish the track was clean; then there would have been plenty of time to practice. I don’t think practice time is an issue. We got to clean race tracks before we get on ’em and run 200 miles an hour. Just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Beyond concerns surrounding the groove, the reconfiguration of turn one and two caught drivers off-guard, due to reference points.
“I think that is what everybody was looking for – something that was challenging,” Kevin Harvick said. “It is very hard when you get into turn one because you are so used to where the corner used to be. It is hard to pick up your reference points because the bottom is so far down there and you are so far out. You have to drive straight down the race track. It is hard to get situated in a couple of hours.”
The conditions waved their ugly head, with four having incidents in the session. Both Chase Elliott and Erik Jones were forced to back-up cars after crashes. Meanwhile, Kyle Busch‘s team had to fix his No. 18 Camry following wall contact, while Denny Hamlin went for a quick spin.
The problems carried over to qualifying with Jimmie Johnson spinning following his first lap, resulting in not being able to take part in round two due to three flat-spotted tires.
Despite concerns over the surface, there’s hope based on seeing more rubber being laid down through the sessions.
“It’s come a long way since this morning when we first unloaded,” Jamie McMurray said. “I think the XFINITY race is obviously going to widen it out a little bit.”
Even with conditions improving, there are still some wishing the old Texas was still here for another year.
“I mean I can’t say there is anything wrong with the race track, but man… I think I speak for everybody when I say we miss old Texas,” Ryan Newman said.
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