With only two more races to go – AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix and Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead – the competitive spirit in the Chase for the Sprint Cup is reaching fever pitch. Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway saw Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski fight to the finish, with Johnson taking the checkered flag and Keselowski hot on his heels. His first place finish in the AAA Texas 500 has Johnson in the lead for the Sprint Cup Championship with 2339 points. Kyle Busch took third place, with Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart taking fourth and fifth.
Although Johnson led for 168 laps in the 334 lap race, it was in the final restart of three in the race that Johnson made the move that put him in first place. Johnson and Keselowski were side-by-side on the restart in the second-last lap when Johnson pushed his #48 Chevrolet hard on the outside, clearing Keselowski on the backstretch and staying in the lead for the final one-and-a-half laps. This was the second week in a row that Johnson won from the pole and his win put him into the lead in the standings by 7 points.
Keselowski had fallen from first to ninth place in his #2 Dodge after being delayed in a pit stop when blocked by Danica Patrick’s car. He took only left-side tires when all other drivers took four tires and he restarted in the lead with 19 laps of the race to go and gained the ground he had lost. A second restart with eight laps to go saw the position between the two rivals unchanged, but the third restart left Keselowski in second place as Johnson streaked ahead.
The second restart was as a result of contact between Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle, all of whom continued to finish the race in 14th, 25th and 10th place respectively.
The current top ten in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings are as follows:
1. Jimmie Johnson – 2339 point
2. Brad Keselowski – 2332 points
3. Clint Bowyer – 2303 points
4. Kasey Kahne – 2281 points
5. Matt Kenseth – 2267 points
6. Jeff Gordon – 2267 points
7. Denny Hamlin – 2266 points
8. Tony Stewart – 2259 points
9. Martin Truex Jr – 2259 points
10. Greg Biffle – 2256 points
Texas Motor Speedway is the Venue for the AAA Texas 500: NASCAR Sprint Cup race on 4 November 2012. Completed in 1996 the track is a quad-oval covering a distance of 1.5 miles. The tracks Sprint Cup Race Record of 160.577 was set by Greg Biffle in April this year.
Date: 4 November 2012
Venue: Texas Motor Speedway
City: Fort Worth
Country: United States
Formerly known as the Atlanta International Raceway, the Atlanta Motor Speedway is located in Hampton, just to the south of the city of Atlanta. Atlanta Motor Speedway, is a 2.48 kilometer superspeedway, that has a quad-oval circuit and a spectator seating capacity of approximately 125 000. The track first opened in 1960, but condominiums were erected over the northeastern part of the Atlanta Speedway track in 1994. This construction led to the track being redesigned and practically rebuilt in 1997. The front and backstretches were swapped, and the oval form of the track gave way to quad-oval. Today, the Atlanta Motor Speedway is the fastest NASCAR track on the entire NASCAR circuit. The track also includes a 4 kilometer road course, approved by the FIA, and a Legends racing track, between the main track and the pit road.
This NASCAR circuit was seeing qualifying lap speeds of approximately 311 kilometers an hour, with the fastest recorded lap speed of 317 kilometers an hour, between the 1990s and the 2000s. The Texas Motor Speedway, that was designed very similar to the Atlanta Speedway, did have faster times during 2004 to 2005, but after its surface was worn, the higher speeds returned to Atlanta. Tracks such as Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway did once have faster lap times, averaging about 322 kilometers an hour, but NASCAR mandated restrictor plates for these tracks, making the average speed approximately 306 kilometers an hour. The Atlanta Motor Speedway’s slogan is “Real Racing. Real Fast.” This is not an exaggeration, as NASCAR has not mandated restrictor plates at this track.
Hurricane Cindy hit the Atlanta Motor Speedway on 6 July 2005, with the damage being estimated at approximately 40-50 million US Dollars. Debris was littered across the track, facades were torn off, roofs were damaged, scoreboard towers were knocked down or left leaning and new grandstands had to be built to replace those that were built in 1960. But against all odds, Atlanta Motor Speedway was ready to race by the next big event and has gone on to welcome spectators to witness some of the fastest racing in the United States.
Located in Fort Worth, Texas, the Texas Motor Speedway was built between 1995 and 1996. The original track featured a dual banking system with a 24-degree bank for stock cars and an 8-degree bank for open-wheel vehicles. The track is classified as a superspeedway as it is more than one mile in length and it is similar in layout to the Atlanta Motor Speedway and Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The track’s ‘Turn 4’ was reshaped in 1998 to make transitions from the turns to the straightway easier. Further renovations that same year eliminated the dual banking and resulted in the track currently in use today.
The Texas Motor Speedway measures 1.5 miles in length and features a quad-oval design. It has been banked 24 degrees in the turns to facilitate fast racing and the front straightway juts outwards a bit. It also has a seating capacity of more than 200,000 for NASCAR and IndyCar racing events. The track features tunnel bumps on Turns 2 and 4 which add to the its uniqueness. The track is currently owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. At one stage the Texas Motor Speedway was considered to be the ‘fastest non-restrictor plate track’ to appear on the NASCAR circuit. Qualifying speeds exceeded 192 mph and corner entry speeds were often clocked at over 200 mph. However, with the gradual wear of racing surfaces other tracks, such as Atlanta, proven to be faster. Currently the top qualifying record is held by Brian Vickers who posted a 196.235 mph speed in 2006.
The Texas Motor Speedway is home to two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races – making it a very popular racetrack with big attendance figures. The races which it hosts are the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 and the Dickes 500. It also hosts the O’Reilly 300 and the O’Reilly Challenge – both of which are Busch Series Races. The Bombardier Learjet 550 is the only Indy Racing League race that it hosts.
Together with brother, Kerry, Dale Earnhardt Jr, bought a street car from a junkyard. The brothers built the car into street stock car, and Dale Earnhardt Jr started racing in the street stock division at the early age of 17. This is where his professional driving career started, which isn’t all that surprising, as racing is in his blood, with his father already a well known name around the tracks. Dale was a natural, and it only took him two seasons to move up to the ranks of NASCAR, in the Late Model Stock Division. This move saw Dale racing on tracks like Hickory Motor Speedway, Nashville Speedway USA, Florence Motor Speedway and Tri-County Speedway. His career was underway, and by his third year in NASCAR Winston Racing Series, Dale had managed to secure 113 starts, he had won three races and had taken twelve poles.
The year 1996 turned out to be his best up to then. Dale Earnhart Jr had made 53 starts, won two races, grabbed eight poles and finished second at Florence, in points. This year also had Dale start his career in the NASCAR Busch Series. His first effort was a job well done, as he had qualified 7th, and on race day, he finished in 14th position.
The year 1998 was an exciting year for Dale Earnhardt Jr. He started his first full season in the NASCAR Busch Series, and his first race was the NAPA 300, which took place at the Daytona International Speedway. Unfortunately for Dale, his first race did not go as planned and he was involved in a wreck, thankfully walking away unharmed. On 4 April 1998, at the Coca-Cola 300, which was raced at the Texas Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr, proudly took first place. But it was the announcement that took place on 21 September 1998, that Dale had been waiting for. His potential had been spotted by Budweiser, and they had agreed to sponsor him to drive in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
Dale Earnhardt Jr, followed in the footsteps of his father, but with his own style, grace and confidence, that secured him his own fan-base and a career apart from his father. Dale Earnhardt Snr in turn, supported his son, and was happy to just be the proud father and play a supporting role in his son’s career. Tragedy struck this close bond in 2001. It was the first race of the new racing season, and fans were terribly excited as Michael Waltrip won the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr came in second and third place was to be Dale Earnhardt Snr. This is an ending fans only dream about, and the atmosphere was electric. But on the last lap, Dale Earnhardt Snr crashed his car, and lost his life in the sport he loved, and in a position he was proud of, supporting his son. The tragic loss not only tore through a family, but broke the heart of every supporter.
As his father would have wanted him to, Dale Earnhardt Jr continued to achieve in in this fiercely competitive and fast-paced sport, becoming a legend in his own right. By the end of 2009, Dale Earnhardt Jr had 18 wins to his name, with 89 finishes in the Top Five, and 144 in the Top Ten. His last win was the 2008 Lifelock 400 Sprint Cup at Michigan International Speedway. He qualified second and finished second in the 2010 Daytona 500. He set the record for the fastest recorded qualifying time (28.76) at 310.2 kph at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a Car of Tomorrow on 5 March 2010. There’s little doubt that fans can expect plenty of nail-biting action from this talented NASCAR driver in the months to come.