Notes from Texas Motor Speedway

Hard at work on the No. 6 Pure Michigan Ford driven by
reigning Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs 
On the track today

Final Nationwide practice concluded Friday morning with the No. 6 Pure Michigan Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at the top of the scoring pylon. Stenhouse ran almost 3mph faster than Paul Menard, driving the No. 33 Menards/Rheem Chevy. Austin Dillion in the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevy came in fourth, with Danica Patrick in her No. 7 Chevy close behind. The KBM Monster Energy Toyota has Kurt Busch behind the wheel this week and he ran fifth, with Denny Hamlin, Cole Whitt, Johanna Long, Mike Bliss and Steve Arpin rounding out the top ten.

SportsDay Qualifying Day Powered by the Dallas Morning News for the Nationwide series starts at 4:05pm local, 5:05 Eastern, televised on ESPN2. Sprint Cup qualifying begins at 5:40 local, 6:40 Eastern, shown on SPEED. Finally, the NNS O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 begins at 7:30 local, 8:30 Eastern, broadcast by ESPN.

Around the track Thursday 

There’s a commercial for Dairy Queen that uses “That’s what I like about Texas” as its tag line, and that’s kinda what the press conferences at Texas Motor Speedway on Thursday sounded like.

Sam Hornish, AJ Allmendinger, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Danica Patrick all said they enjoy racing at Texas because of the track, the way the event is handled, and because of the fans.

Kevin Harvick, while he didn’t comment on the whole experience of racing at TMS, said “It hasn’t been a very good race track for us over the last couple of years. We have had okay finishes, but hadn’t felt like we have run great."

The drivers expressed their appreciation for the enthusiasm and energy that the crowd brings to the event. Earnhardt Jr. said, “It’s a unique place and what makes it even better I think, is the energy the fans bring here. The fan base here has always been pretty solid, right from the start. And that’s kind of, in my opinion, rare. The further west we go, we really sort of don’t have that gain in the energy of the fan base.”
Danica Patrick spoke to the media on Thursday and was a bit
perplexed by a question about hog-tying. Only in Texas!
Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs

Danica Patrick entertained the media center by channeling her inner Ron Burgundy and expressing her excitement about the second installment of Anchorman. She also revealed she knows nothing about rodeo. When asked if arriving in Texas prompted her to want to barrel race, she was confused, asking if that was where you climbed in a barrel and rolled down a hill. Patrick also looked confused when asked if she felt the need to hog-tie someone.

Interesting to note:
Sam Hornish Jr. won three times here in Indy cars, and provided some of the best racing I’ve ever seen period. He beat Tony Kanaan by .0786 seconds in 2002 and Helio Castroneves by .0096 in 2002 (Danica Patrick finished 3rd in that race, by the way. However, in stock cars he hasn’t had the same magic, and he’s not quite sure why. The cars are fast and he obviously knows the track but for some reason hasn’t yet been able to apply his open-wheel expertise to either Cup or Nationwide cars. Hornish hopes that changes this weekend, though he was only 13th fastest in final practice with the No. 12 Wurth Dodge.
Notes from Texas Motor Speedway Notes from Texas Motor Speedway Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Friday, April 13, 2012 Rating: 5