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Last Updated Monday, Nov 16, 2009 1:19 am, EST

Race Capsule

Texas Motor Speedway
  • What:

    Race 34 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX

  • When:

    November 8, 2009 3:31 pm EST

  • Laps:


  • Track Length:

    1.5 miles

  • Race Length:

    501.00 miles

  • Purse:


Drivers to Watch

Jeff Gordon Gordon has slipped even further behind and now trails teammate Jimmie Johnson by 192 points. Gordon scored his first Texas victory in April. He has seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 17 starts there, but five of the top-10s have come in the last six races. His one finish out of the top-10 was last place in a 43-car field in April 2008. He was second in this race last year. "We are anxious to get back there," he said. "It was obviously a huge win for us as a team going there so many times and from being so close and not getting the win to having just horrendous, terrible days. We ran bad or hit the wall or had a failure, whatever may have happened. It was just one of those tracks that I typically left there wanting to forget as quickly as I could. Now I can't wait to get back there because we had such a strong car. We had worked so hard over the offseason because of what we learned there in November last year to come back to be strong in Texas, knowing that it is a Chase race and it is a race that has haunted us for the last several years. To turn that around was fantastic."
Kasey Kahne Kahne, who gained two spots in the standings to ninth with his finish Sunday, won at Texas in April 2006 but has just two top-five finishes and no other top-10s in 10 starts there. He was 24th last November and 19th in April. "Texas is actually a really neat track," Kahne said. "I've always liked Texas. It's fast. The banking is awesome. It's a little bit rough, too. There are some spots that are rough, so you have that side where your car is bouncing around and you have to slide the back around. I enjoy racing there. Getting into turn one can be tricky. It is real flat, and then as you are coming into the corner, you get into the banking. It's almost like you fall into the corner at 190 miles per hour. Turn three is similar, but it is not as drastic. It is a difficult place to get your car to handle the way you want. It is a great track, but you really need your car to handle well on entry to be competitive. The biggest thing is the front end. You have to get the left front working. You have to make sure that your front two tires are cutting real well. You need your back (of the car) to be in the track real well. The biggest thing for me is the front tires. That's usually what we struggle with here -- the front tires aren't working as good as they need to work. The couple times that they have worked really well, we've either been first of second."
Tony Stewart Stewart is a former Texas winner, in this race in 2006, and has four top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 15 starts. He was 16th in this race last year and fourth in April. "This track, the grooves have moved around, especially in the last couple of years," Stewart said. "We've seen the track start getting wider, and Eddie (Gossage, track president) took the initiative to try to get the bumps smoother in (turns) one and two. A lot of promoters wouldn't have done that. They wouldn't have taken that much time and effort, but it's made it to where you can move around on the race track and where you can run the top side or the bottom side. It's nice from a driver's perspective to be able to have that flexibility behind the steering wheel, knowing that if your car's not driving exactly the way you want it to, you can move around the race track and find a spot the car likes better. Anytime you put more seasons on a race track, the better it gets because it seems like the pavement wears out on the bottom and it makes it to where you can run the top and be fast and you can run the bottom and be fast. It makes the whole race track, speed-wise, about the same, versus when they pave a race track and the only groove is right on the bottom. The fastest way is the shortest way, because it all has the same amount of grip, so the shorter distance is faster. Every year that we come here I think the racing just gets better and better, as far as being able to move around on the race track and guys not having to just follow each other and get stuck behind each other. You can actually pass. You can race. You can get away from guys if your car's fast."
Kyle Busch Busch has three top-six finishes in the last four races at Texas. He will be seeking his fourth straight win in the Nationwide Series there but is still looking for his first Cup win at Texas. "We have great cars at Joe Gibbs Racing, and there's no reason that we won't have a good shot (at a win) this weekend," said Busch.
Mark Martin Martin drove to victory for team owner Jack Roush in 1998 in the second Cup Series race at Texas. He has five top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 17 starts there, including two top-10 finishes in the last three races. He was 12th in this race last year and sixth in April. "I look forward to it (going back to Texas Motor Speedway)," Martin said. "We did get a chance to show what we had at Charlotte, and we didn't have enough that particular weekend. We were second fast in every practice. We were second fast in qualifying, but in the race we didn't perform quite like we wanted to so we get another chance. Texas is a different race track and a different day. It's been a good place before, but this is the time when we need to land on both feet."
Greg Biffle Biffle won at Texas in April 2005 when he led a whopping 219 laps. That is one of his three top-five and four top-10 finishes there. He was fifth last November and third in April. Those two top-five finishes ended a dismal two-race Texas streak in which he finished 33rd in November 2007 and 39th in April 2008. "We're looking forward to next year," Biffle said, realizing he isn't going to win the Cup championship. "We're trying to get the highest position in points we can this year, but we're looking forward to picking some wins up. We think we can still win this year. We've got three or four more chances, so we'll get by those and see what we can do, but we're excited about next year. It's a little bit of everything."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt will always have fond memories when it comes to Texas Motor Speedway. He won his first Cup race at the track in only his seventh start on April 2, 2000. Earnhardt also scored his initial Nationwide Series victory at the track on April 4, 1998. "We've had some good success at Texas, so that makes you excited about coming back," said Earnhardt.
Jimmie Johnson Johnson has lapped the field -- he leads by more points than any driver can earn in a single race. That means Johnson could skip this week's race at Texas, sit at home and twiddle his thumbs and still be the points leader next week at Phoenix. Johnson's 184-point lead with three races to go is the largest any driver has had since the Chase format began in 2004. He will clinch a record fourth straight Cup championship if he finishes 10th or better in each of the final three races. He has a decent record at Texas -- one victory (November 2007), six top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 12 starts -- but has a stunning record in the last six races -- a victory and three second-place finishes. He was second here in April. "Texas Motor Speedway does a great job taking care of all of us and making us feel comfortable and at home," he said. "The track is aging and doing well, so we have a nice wide groove to race on."
David Reutimann Reutimann won the pole for the spring race at Texas and led 40 laps before ending up 11th. He was 10th in the fall race a year ago. "We have run pretty good there the last two times, so I am looking forward to this weekend," said Reutimann. "We want to finish the year on a high note, and we think Texas is one of the places where we can run up front."
Joey Logano Logano finished 30th in the spring race at Texas. "Texas was one of the most difficult races for us as a team earlier this year," said Logano. "We struggled. I struggled. We've come a long way as a team since then; I've come a long way as a driver. Zippy (crew chief Greg Zipadelli) and the Home Depot team are building new and better cars and we are running much more consistently, especially the second time we visit these tracks."
Brian Vickers Vickers is still looking for his first top-10 finish at Texas. In 10 starts at the track, his best finish is 12th, which came in his Cup debut at the facility. He has one pole there. "We just haven't run as well there as we do at most of the other mile-and-a-halfs," he said.
Marcos Ambrose Ambrose's best finish in two starts at Texas is only 21st. "We've struggled a little on our 1.5-mile program," he said. "It's an area where we really need to work on and understand. That's why I am looking forward to Texas and seeing how much we have improved since the spring."
Bowyer has two top-10 finishes in the last three races at Texas. "We struggled there in the spring (finishing 22nd), but I've run well there in the past," said Bowyer. "I enjoy the track. It's fast; you've got to get the car rolling (through) the centers (of the corners). You can get too loose there, but I'd definitely prefer a loose car there over a tight one."
Bobby Labonte Busch has never won at Texas and has one top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 13 starts. He was 41st last November and eighth in April. "We've really shown the spark we need on the intermediate tracks so far this season, and we hope to continue that at Texas this weekend," Busch said. "We had the big win back in the spring at Atlanta and have run consistently in the top 10 in most of those tracks. The guys have been putting some great race cars out there, (team engineer) Dave Winston and the engineering department have made so much progress, and the new Dodge engines have had plenty of power in those races."
Newman drove to victory at Texas in April 2003 and has three top-five finishes and no other top-10s in 12 starts there. He finished 28th last November and 15th last April. He is focused on two things at Texas: the continuing improvement in the asphalt and the double-file restarts. "The first time there with double-file restarts, I think, is going to be another bundle of excitement as we've seen most every race track this year," he said. "The bigger the race track, the wider the race track, the more the double-file restarts have an impact. You know, I saw very little difference at Martinsville compared to the way it used to be. But I think when you go to a place like Texas it definitely adds to some multiple levels of excitement, and I think it's a great place for it. I love the speed. It's a fast race track. The weather should be cool, so hopefully we can haul mail."
Matt Kenseth Kenseth has one win, six top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 14 starts at Texas and will be seeking his sixth straight top-10 finish there. Kenseth has led 497 laps at Texas, more than any other Cup driver. He also has two Nationwide victories at the 1.5-mile track.
Michael Waltrip Sadler has only three top-10 finishes in 15 starts at Texas, but one of them was a victory back in the spring of 2004. "Texas is one of my favorite race tracks," said Sadler, who will be back driving a Dodge this weekend. "I've had success there in the past, so that probably helps when picking a favorite track. Hopefully we can take our top-10 finish from last week and continue to build on that to finish the season out strong."
McMurray finished third in the fall race at Texas a year ago after leading 56 laps. "We have a lot of momentum coming into this week after our win at Talladega, so I'm really looking forward at Texas and seeing if we can stay on this streak," said McMurray. "Roush Fenway's 1.5-mile program has always been good, and I'm sure that we'll see similar performances this weekend."
Jeff Burton Burton won his first Cup race at Texas back in 1997 and also won the spring race in 2007. Burton has four top-nine finishes in the last five races there. "Texas has been a good track for us lately, but it has been an up-and-down place for us, too," said Burton. "It's a demanding race track and is different from the other mile-and-a-halfs we go to. The corner entry is completely different and the track is rough."