FYI WIRZ: NASCAR Top Chasers Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart Share Texas Thoughts

Dwight Drum@@racetakeCorrespondent IIINovember 3, 2011

Carl Edwards gets ready to practice in the Darlington garage
Carl Edwards gets ready to practice in the Darlington garage

NASCAR shuttles south and west to popular Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500 on the 1.5-mile quad-oval track with 24 degree banking in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Fans not in one of the 122,000 seats in the stands can view the 334 decisive laps starting at 3:00 p.m. on ESPN.

The 2011 season is winding down as playoff intensity ramps up.

The point spread has widened with each of the Chase for the Sprint Cup races and with only three races remaining in the 10-race playoff, the top-five are separated by 36 points. Under the new points system, 30 points is a big deficit.

One bad race can snuff hot championship momentum as Matt Kenseth’s Martinsville crash proved last week. He dropped 27 points out of a close second to fifth.

Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth have a lot on the line going into to Texas. They discuss their chances and more.

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford)

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“Texas is one of our strong points,” Edwards said. “I feel really good about going there, especially the way our Roush Fenway Fords run there. Texas is different than any track we go to just because of the atmosphere. It’s one of the biggest races of the year. The fans, sponsors and drivers all know it, there is a lot on the line and there is a lot of pride in winning a race there.”

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)

Tony Stewart gets ready in the Daytona garage
Tony Stewart gets ready in the Daytona garage

“You have to be comfortable (at Texas Motor Speedway) or you’re not going to go fast,” Stewart said. “The more comfortable I am, the faster we go. This track, the grooves have moved around, especially in the last couple of years. We’ve seen the track start getting wider and, when Eddie (Gossage, track president) took the initiative and got rid of the bumps in (turns) one and two, it made it to where you can move around on the racetrack and where you can run the top side or the bottom side.

“Every year that we come here, I think the racing just gets better and better, as far as being able to move around on the racetrack and guys not having to just follow each other and get stuck behind each other. You can actually pass. You can race. You can get away from guys if your car’s fast.”

Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Chevrolet)

“Texas is a really fast race track and the banking is where you can really feel how fast you are going,” Harvick said. “It’s one of those few race tracks where you feel the speed in the car. The unique part about Texas is that you have that big speed for about three or four laps and as you go through the tire run the speed really drops off a tremendous amount. But, from a driver standpoint, you have got a lot of options here and the race track has a lot of bumps that are great for character and you have to make your car work good and you have to get up off Turn 2, but you can run all over the race track.”

Brad Keselowski (No.2 Dodge)

“Texas really is a unique racetrack and a unique layout,” Keselowski said. “From above it looks like any normal 1.5-mile track, but the transitions into and off of the corners are quite a bit different than Charlotte, Las Vegas or any of the other mile-and-a-halfs. There is a lot of banking into the corners, which means you can carry a lot of speed in and to the center of the turns, but you lose that speed on exit as the track flattens out. It’s difficult because normally you can carry the same amount of grip and speed on both corner entry and corner exit. You have to adjust accordingly and sometimes that’s hard to do at 180 miles per hour.”

Matt Kenseth (No.17 Ford)

“I probably have more confidence going into Texas because, historically, it’s been one of our best tracks,” Kenseth said. “Past success doesn’t guarantee anything for future success, but we certainly perform well there.. The goal when we go back to Texas this weekend is to unload the car off the truck and have a good base set-up in order to get on the track fast without having to make too many changes right at the start. That’s what we’ve been able to do there lately, which makes it easier when you have a great base to start from.”

FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com.

Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from official release materials provided by NASCAR and team representatives.

Photo credit: Dwight Drum at Racetake.com.


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