Texas II: News of note, schedule

*Jeff Burton Joins Us On The Weekly NASCAR Teleconference *NASCAR Official Joe Collins Will Be Missed Keys To Victory Texas Motor Speedway This week Greg Zipadelli talks about what it takes to be successful at Texas: "Texas is a race track...

*Jeff Burton Joins Us On The Weekly NASCAR Teleconference
*NASCAR Official Joe Collins Will Be Missed

Keys To Victory

Texas Motor Speedway

This week Greg Zipadelli talks about what it takes to be successful at Texas:

"Texas is a race track to me that has aged really well. The last few years, it has widened down and the tires have gotten better for the cars. It usually has gotten cooler when we go back the second time, which means there is a little more grip. The track doesn't seem to be as sensitive to change in the fall as it is in the spring, because of the sun. You got to have a great car with a good body, a really good motor program and a driver that is willing to move around a little bit. As the race goes, you are able to move up the race track and the beginning of a run you run at the bottom. Not anywhere near as much as you see people run at Atlanta, but it just kind of turns out to be like that."

In The Loop: Texas Hold 'Em: Johnson And Gordon Looking For First TMS Win

The biggest names in NASCAR seem to save some of their biggest performances for Texas Motor Speedway.

So, yes, everything is bigger in Texas.

For instance, the top four drivers (and seven of the top 10) in pre-race Driver Rating are currently in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

A total of nine NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championships have been won by drivers in the top 10 of the pre-race Texas Driver Rating.

But this weekend, as was the case the last two, all attention will be on point leader Jeff Gordon and second-place driver Jimmie Johnson.

Nine points separate the two. They've combined to win the last four races this season, yet oddly enough trips to Texas' Victory Lane have eluded both.

Still, each have solid performances at Texas since the inception of Loop Data in 2005.

As was the case at Martinsville and Atlanta, Johnson owns the edge. Johnson has a Driver Rating of 99.9 (fourth-best), an Average Running Position of 11.0 (fourth-best), 71 Fastest Laps Run (seventh-most) and has spent 72.8% of the total Laps Run in the Top 15 (fourth-most).

Texas is one of two tracks (Homestead is the other) where Gordon has yet to win. Still, has two top-10 finishes there, including a fourth-place finish earlier this season. Since 2005, Gordon has a pre-race Texas Driver Rating of 92.3 (ninth-best), an Average Running Position of 12.5 (11th-best) and 85 Fastest Laps run (fourth-most).

The driver with the top statistics at Texas is the defending champion of this race -- Tony Stewart. Stewart could break out of a mini-slump this weekend (he hasn't notched a top five since New Hampshire). He owns top marks in Driver Rating (113.6), Average Running Position (6.9), Fastest Laps Run (192) and Laps in the Top 15 (89.3%).

NNCS, Etc.

On The Line: Jeff Burton On Weekly NASCAR Teleconference

Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competitor Jeff Burton was the guest on Tuesday's weekly NASCAR Teleconference. Burton comes into this week's Dickies 500 in eighth place in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings with three races remaining in the season.

Burton is coming off a fifth-place run at Atlanta, and is the only repeat winner at Texas.

Following are some highlights from the teleconference:

Q: So what do you think, Jeff, going back there?

Burton: Well, certainly we've had a lot of success at Texas. It's kind of been either really good or really bad for me. Not many just mediocre runs. We haven't run as well over the last three or four months as we'd like to run for sure. So as the year winds down, the intensity of wanting to have some good runs and running in the front just continues to build.

Obviously we're pretty much out of the championship hunt, but fifth is better than ninth. And 10 is better than 12. So we're going to go get all we can and try to get back on track.

Q: The top two teams in the sport, I guess you'd call them that, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, aren't here for this test. Do you look at that as an opportunity to gain two days of testing on them or would you rather to have them here so you can spy on them a little, see what they're doing?

Burton: What it shows to me is their confidence in their program. They're comfortable with giving up two days of testing at a racetrack that we have the right tires, we have the right racetrack. It's the best conditions you'll ever get for a test. They have the confidence that they can do that and still be in good shape.

So that has a way of, to me, in some ways saying to the world, hey, we're in good shape. In other ways the competitors look at it two different ways. You can look at it as, hey, they're lazy and they don't have focus on what they ought to have focus on, which isn't how I look at it. Or you can look at it as some people look at it as kind of an arrogant standpoint.

I don't view it like that. I believe that they just have confidence in their program. And that they don't have to be here to be successful. That's the way I view it. But it has -- a few people have taken note and have not been impressed. Others have been impressed.

Montoya Maintaining Rookie Points Lead

Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) continues to lead the Raybestos Rookie of the Year point standings over David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Ford).

Montoya finished 34th at Atlanta, yet still boosted his lead to 19 points (232-213).

Manufacturers' Standings

Chevrolet still has a firm hold on the Manufacturers' standings, leading Ford by 81 points after another victory by Jimmie Johnson. The win gave Chevrolet totaling 24 victories on the year.

Save The Date: Kevin Harvick Day

Kevin Harvick, (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet) team owner Richard Childress, and team members will make an appearance at Houston's City Hall on the morning of November 1st with the City Mayor Bill White to proclaim Nov. 1st as officially Kevin Harvick Day.

The ceremony will start at 11 a.m. on Thursday, at the Houston, City Hall. Harvick, Childress and officials from Shell and Pennzoil will be speaking at the event.

Harvick and Childress will then make their way to Shell offices in northern Houston to judge a chili cook-off.

NACAR Official Joe Collins passes away

NASCAR lost one of its dear people and loyal servants when Joe Collins passed away Oct. 25 at the age of 65. Joe served NASCAR for more than 25 years in a variety of capacities, including official and Weekly Series Racing Director. A native of Alabama, Joe worked for the railroad for 20 years before working with NASCAR. He and his wife of 46 years -- Barbara -- have a son and a daughter and three grandsons. NASCAR's thoughts and prayers go out to the Collins' family.

NASCAR officials are the unsung heroes of our sport. The officials show up when the gates open in the morning and stay long after all the crowds have gone home. During the races they are the ones in the middle of the action making sure the race runs smoothly and that all the competitors are on a fair and level playing field. They make split decisions and call it like they see it. The NASCAR officials work long and hard to make sure NASCAR produces the greatest racing in the world. Joe Collins was a big part of that and he will be dearly missed.

The Race: Dickies 500

The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Nov. 4

The Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: ABC, 3 p.m. (ET)
Radio: PRN; SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Channel 128

The Track: 1.5-mile oval
The Distance: 501 miles, 334 laps The Purse: $7,255,977

2006 Polesitter: Brian Vickers
2006 Winner: Tony Stewart

Pre-Race On-Track Schedule (ET): Friday -- Practice, 12-1:30 p.m. Qualifying, 3:40 p.m.; Saturday -- Practice, 11-11:50 a.m. and 12:50-1:50 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya