Texas: This Week in Ford Racing

This Week in Ford Racing March 30, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Texas Motor Speedway is the next stop on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule and it's a track in which Ford drivers have won four of the seven events contested.

This Week in Ford Racing
March 30, 2004

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series

Texas Motor Speedway is the next stop on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule and it's a track in which Ford drivers have won four of the seven events contested. Two of those winners - Dale Jarrett and Matt Kenseth - along with Elliott Sadler spoke about Texas and how it compares to some of the other tracks on the circuit.

ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus

"Texas is one of my favorite tracks to go to. I really love that race track. I love the speed of it. I seem to always qualify good there and race good there. We've had some terrible luck there in the past, but last year we got such a big momentum gain from that race. Even though we wrecked and had a flat tire, we led the most laps and qualified good. We went and tested there a week or so ago and the track is very, very fast. The Goodyear tire that they brought there had a lot of grip to it. It's gonna be back to pretty much qualifying wide-open all the way around and you're not much off the throttle during the race, so I think it's gonna put on some good racing there again."

TEXAS, CHICAGO, VEGAS - WHEN THEY ALL CAME ALONG PEOPLE SAID TO GIVE THEM A FEW YEARS AND THE RACING WOULD IMPROVE. HAVE THEY CHANGED THAT MUCH? "It's a lot grayer surface. You can tell the winter has been a little harsh on it, but this Goodyear tire has a lot of grip to it. I do think when it gets hot and slick there next week during the race on Sunday, the cars will start moving up. We actually did that a lot in testing - move up a little bit, which is gonna create a little bit better racing than what you've seen there in the past - a little more side-by-side racing - kind of like what Brendan Gaughan was doing there in the trucks. I think you're gonna see more of that when we get there with the Cup cars this year."

WHAT DIFFERENTIATES TEXAS FROM ATLANTA AND CHARLOTTE? "From a driving style and the way the track is, Texas is more like Chicago than any other track we race at. At Texas you're in the corners for a long time. If you actually measured the length of the time you're in the corners versus the straightaways, it's just as much time or longer in the corners. They're a lot longer and sweeping corners, which makes it so fast. You don't have as much wheel input in it and it's not as tight, so you can really get some momentum going. Plus, that asphalt is only a couple of years old, so that gives it a lot of grip and makes it fast."

MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DEWALT Tools Taurus

"I'm looking forward to it. I love going to Texas because it's a cool track. We're running the IROC race, the Busch race and the Cup race, so we've got a lot going on there. We've run really good the last couple of years there, so I'm really looking forward to it."

WHAT IS THE KEY WITH A SOFTER TIRE THERE? "You're still gonna need to handle. You've still got to keep your car turning good and keep it on the bottom. It's always been difficult to run on the outside there, especially when they keep getting new pavement, so the key is to be able to get your car to stay on the white line and make some passes."

WHAT MAKES TEXAS DIFFERENT FROM CHARLOTTE AND ATLANTA? "For being the same shape, those three tracks are just totally different from a driving standpoint. I don't know what makes them different, but they are. They're shaped the same and you've got to turn twice down the front straightaway, but, other than that, they're a lot different. Texas might be somewhat like Atlanta when Atlanta had new pavement and you ran on the bottom, but since then Atlanta is pretty worn out. The tires drop off in a hurry and you can find a lot of different grooves, whereas Texas still has real good grip and you can stay right on the bottom and keep on the gas pretty hard."

IS TEXAS LIKE CHICAGO?  "I always thought when I went to Chicago that
Chicago was as close to Texas as anywhere you go.  That's a good
comparison.  Chicago is real fast.  It's not really that much like Kansas
or Vegas.  It's real fast and the groove is right on the bottom."

DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus

WHAT DIFFERENTIATES TEXAS FROM CHARLOTTE AND ATLANTA? "Texas drives totally different. Even though to the eye they look a lot alike and they were built to be similar, they're totally different from a driver's perspective. It seems that the race track has always had a lot of grip, therefore you carry a lot of speed. You're busy as a driver there. The track is relatively smooth for the most part, so that sets it apart from Charlotte and Atlanta, so what that allows you to do is run a much more downforce-happy package. You can pin the car down to the track and get that extra speed on the straightaway. We talk about the speed you feel at Atlanta, but I'm not sure you don't feel it just as much or more at Texas than anywhere else."

DALLAS AND CHICAGO ARE A LONG DISTANCE APART, BUT ARE THE TRACKS SIMILAR? "Yeah, because you're driving into the corner and get back on the gas really early. The one thing that would keep those two apart a little bit is the tri-oval is banked at Chicago, but as far as entrance to the corners and the radius of the corners, I think you're looking more at those two being similar. It seemed last year we had a little bit more racing room there, which is good, and hopefully with this tire that will allow us a little more racing room."

IT SEEMS YOU ALWAYS EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED AT THAT TRACK. "We seem to have something happen every year and I wouldn't look for this to be any different. Hopefully, it'll just be that it's a hugely successful race this time around. We've had some pretty good races there, but I think Texas has the possibility of offering the fans a really good show. Even as fast as it is, I think the possibilities are there for some side-by-side racing."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Brendan Gaughan , Elliott Sadler