Texas Motor Speedway will present the Gen-6 car with a super-fast intermediate track test in Saturday’s 500-mile race.
The Sprint Cup Series raced on a 1.5-mile, high-banked track last month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but Saturday night’s event, the first evening race of the season, will showcase significantly faster speeds.
The track qualifying record at Las Vegas (owned by Kasey Kahne) is 190.456 miles per hour. The Texas mark of 196.235 was set in 2006 by Brian Vickers.
“It’s a fun place,” Kyle Busch said of TMS. “It’s really challenging because of the flatness of the corners, getting into the corners, and then they’re so banked through the turns, and then the exits of the corners, they kind of fall off real quickly.
“That was always really weird for me to try to figure out because the lateral grip seems to go away so fast on the exit of the turns. You kind of want to be straight by that point. It’s an interesting facility. Texas, Charlotte and Atlanta all might look exactly the same, but they drive nothing alike. It keeps you on your toes.”
Busch said it’s important to be able to run in all traffic lanes at TMS.
“Texas is a really fast mile-and-a-half race track,” he said. “The asphalt is getting a little bit older, but, for as old as the asphalt is, it’s still really fast for a few laps, and it’s still kind of a pain sometimes because it is so aero-dependent that when you do run the bottom it’s hard to pass.
“You’ve got to be able to move around a little bit and run the middle, run the top and show some ability to go all over the race track. We’re getting closer each and every time, it feels like. Sometimes not so much – you kind of go forward and then you go backward and then you kind of come back forward some.”
Busch jumped two spots in points to fourth with a fifth-place finish at Martinsville. He has finished in the top five in the past four races after starting the season with runs of 34th and 23rd.
Jimmie Johnson carries the point lead into Texas. Brad Keselowski is second and Dale Earnhardt Jr. third.
NASCAR has added track time for drivers at Texas because of the new car. Test runs are scheduled at 2 p.m. ET and 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Qualifying is at 6:30 p.m. Friday, and the race is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.