Upon Further Review: Everything is bigger in Texas, including the questions with repaved track
It has fewer than 1,000 views, but Texas Motor Speedway’s YouTube video of Chris Buescher driving a pace car on the repaved and reconfigured track is must-see viewing for NASCAR competitors.
Jimmie Johnson has watched it. So has Kyle Busch, among others.
Buescher is the only Cup driver who has driven on the track — at least until Friday when practice begins. With the repave project completed last month, there wasn’t time to have a Goodyear tire test or an open test for Xfinity and Cup teams.
It would be one thing if it was just a repave, but Texas Motor Speedway officials changed Turns 1 and 2. The banking in those corners decreased from 24 to 20 degrees. The width in those turns expanded from 60 to 80 feet. Turns 3 and 4 remain the same at 24 degree banking and a width of 60 feet.
In the video, Buescher noted that the radius in Turns 1 and 2 “is so tight we might end up moving a lane. Plenty of room on the exit of (Turn) 2. Just a ton of space to wash out to the wall. Typically, Turn 2 has been our problem area. The banking just falls away very abruptly. You’ve got it pinched on exit and you’re trying to get up off the corner. Now you have so much room.’’
Buescher says on the video that cars could go five wide into Turn 1 on restarts since that part of the track has been expanded.
For all the changes, though, one thing hasn’t. The bump over the tunnel between Turns 3 and 4 remains, Buescher said on the video.
“After watching (the Buescher video), I’m excited, I’m not sure where we will run and why we will run there, but it’s a much different Turns 1 and 2,’’ said Johnson, who has won three of the last five Texas races. “I think it brings some fun and excitement to that track. Obviously, with our success there, I hate to see it repaved and hate to see all the bumps gone and all that went with it. It worked so well for us, but I’m excited to get there and see what it kind of provides to us.”
Busch, who won at Texas a year ago, has a different attitude.
“I hate repaves,’’ he said. “But it’s a part of our schedule, it’s a part of our sport. Five years from now, six years from now, it’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to that aspect of it.
“Right out of the gate, going there, trying to put rubber down, it’s slick, man. It’s so treacherous, hard to get a hold of, hard to understand what you’re feeling with your car, ‘cause you can think your tight, you got all the grip in the world, you’re going around the corner, then boom, it just busts loose right out from under you with no warning. That’s the worst thing.
“There’s really no homework to do. You can’t even watch last year’s races, you can’t look at anything besides the Buescher YouTube video and just see what the place looks like so you don’t go in there blind. That’s about it.”
Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick, tweeted Tuesday that there was a way to prepare for Texas — watch video of last year’s Kentucky race. That track was repaved before last year’s race. Cup and Xfinity teams will use the same left-side tire at Texas used last year at Kentucky. The right-side tire for Texas features the same tread compound used at Kentucky but has a minor construction change.
NASCAR will give teams additional practice time but they won’t have an additional day as they have had in the past when they’ve gone to tracks that have been repaved.
“I think the best racing is with less practice,’’ Joey Logano said. “When we actually have more practice, the field gets closer, and this sounds weird because you’d think you want all the cars to be the same speed to make a good race, but when all the cars are the same speed … (no one can pass)
This is one of those tracks we’ve done as much homework as we know how to do. What is Texas going to be? I don’t know but similar to Kentucky. We’ve got a lot of adjustments just in case.’’
Nate Ryan contributed to this story