No rain predicted at Texas, but wind could be a factor for Samsung Mobile 500
However, Mother Nature can ruin all the best laid plans. This time it isn't rain that might put a damper on the festivities, but rather the wind. Steady winds at 20 mph are expected all day and into the evening, with gusts of 30 mph. When you're in a car running 195 mph, that wind can be a definite factor. In turns 1 and 2 there are condominiums and offices to block some of that wind, but there is nothing in turns 3 or 4 to stop the wind from streaming onto the track. Of course, these are professional drivers, used to driving in windy conditions. The steady winds shouldn't phase them too much, but the gusts may.
Martin Truex Jr has won the pole position for the race today, further proof that Michael Waltrip Racing is on the right track. The additions of Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin with their years of experience seem to have helped propel the team to a higher level, making them a definite contender for, at least, Chase contention. Mark rolls off 4th tonight, while Clint starts a little further back in 18th.
Tony Stewart had a scrape along with wall in practice and has gone to a backup car. This might be bad news for the rest of the field as he has said the back up car is much more responsive than the primary car was. With the momentum he and teammate, Ryan Newman, have at this point in the season, either one of them could be the winner at the end of the night. Tony will have to fight his way through 28 other cars to get to the front, while Ryan has the advantage, starting 6th.
I would be remiss if I didn't, once again, mention the quest for Hendrick Motorsports and Rick Hendrick's boys to get his 200th win. Rick had a box full of hats made back when Jimmie Johnson got win number 199 in October of 2011, and the team has packed them around with them, from track to track. Many are saying "blame it on the hats". Kasey Kahne starts closest to the front tonight, in 5th. I still think that Dale Earnhardt Jr can get it done tonight and give Rick that 200th win.
And finally, I have to mention Kyle Busch. Last year he deliberately wrecked Ron Hornaday here at Texas in the truck race. Kyle can't believe he is still being asked about the incident, which saw him parked for the rest of the weekend. He has clearly moved on. Unfortunately, he just doesn't seem to be the same Kyle Busch of years past. He hasn't been a huge factor in any of the races so far, and currently sits 16th in points. He has only 1 top five and two top tens so far this year. Whether he wants to admit it or not, I believe the incident at Texas has affected him.
As we gear up for NASCAR Raceday on SPEED and the race on Fox, I got an alert that there was an accident on the starting line of an NHRA event at zMAX Dragway. A crew member was knocked down, but is apparently alert and talking to medics. Good news.
So fans, it's off to the race. I wanted to delay my dark horse pick until after qualifying. Somehow, I have a feeling about Paul Menard today. His strength seems to be on the mid size tracks, and has a top five and two top tens at Texas. He can definitely win today.
The race airs live on FOX starting at 7pm ET, so join in if you are watching. Don't forget to make your race day predictions on our game pages first!