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Don't Mess With Texas

I want to be a cowboy, baby.” Kid Rock isn’t the only one who’d like to be a cowboy. The field of 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers wouldn’t mind being one after Sunday’s AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. That’s because part of the post-race attire given to the winner in victory lane is a custom-made cowboy hat.

Johnson has two of them, coming by way of his victories after the fall 2007 and 2012 events. Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team tested at the 1.5 mile oval last week in search of victory number three, and the five-time Sprint Cup champion noted how much the line around the track had moved. While testing may have given those who participated in the session a little bit of an edge over those who didn’t, Johnson notes that regardless, conditions should produce an “exciting race.” 

Things certainly got exciting after last weekend’s race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, which left Johnson and Matt Kenseth tied atop the standings in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Kenseth owns the tiebreaker with seven wins this season to Johnson’s five. So a win Sunday would help Johnson move past Kenseth and help separate the two drivers from the rest of the field, who have started to chip away at the point differential.

Johnson even noted on Twitter after the race, “This championship is gonna go all the way to the last lap in Homestead.” But a good run at Texas would provide some “giddyup” to his chances of earning his sixth championship. And since it is Halloween weekend, Johnson wouldn’t mind dressing up as a cowboy Sunday. And, surely, he’d say it would be awesome to be a cowboy, baby.

What do you expect in the race after testing at Texas?

“Expect the cars that were there to lead the way on the practice sheets and be toward the top of the qualifying order when all that comes down. That’s all very important stuff but, what I’m really excited about after the test session is how much the line has moved around on the racetrack. If we have sunny conditions for the race, we’ll have a very, very exciting race.”

Does it help having won at Texas?

“It does bring confidence. It makes the weeks leading into that race easier and less stressful. You still have to go get on the track and get it done. You still have to work through the practice sessions and find speed. There will be challenges thrown at you regardless of past history at a track. And, in the race, there are plenty of opportunities to make mistakes and get in trouble, so you’ve got to be on your toes. In all honesty, it makes the week leading up – Monday through Friday morning – much more enjoyable, but then the pressure starts up as if you haven’t run well there before. It kind of all goes out the window.”

Texas Motor Speedway Notes of Interest:

  • Two wins (November 2007 and 2012).
  • Two poles (April 2006 and 2013, October 2012).
  • Nine top-five finishes (45.0 percent) and 15 top-10s (75.0 percent) in 20 starts.
  • Average start is 8.8 and average finish is 9.1.
  • One DNF (Did Not Finish) – April 2007.
  • Has completed 6,487 of 6,691 laps (97.0 percent) and led 443.
  • Sprint Cup’s second-best driver rating (103.8 average of a possible 150 points).
  • Sprint Cup’s second-best in fastest laps run (389).
  • Sprint Cup’s second-best in most laps in the top-15 with 4,329 (76.1 percent).
TAGS: Race News

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Jeff Gordon
Denny Hamlin
Ryan Newman
Jimmie Johnson
Started: 8th
Finished: 1st
November 15th, 2015
2:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Kobalt Hot Pass