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DUCK COMMANDER 500 ADVANCE NOTEBOOK

Unfinished Business 

Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick has dominated the first six races of the season. He owns the points lead on the strength of two wins (Las Vegas, Phoenix) and top-two finishes in five of those six races as he prepares for Texas Motor Speedway and Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500. 

Harvick has six career national series wins at Texas Motor Speedway, but none of those Victory Lane visits have come following a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Despite five victories in the XFINITY Series and another in the Camping World Truck Series, his success has not transcended to the Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway. In 24 starts, he has just four top-five finishes and eight laps led. 

However, he returns to Texas Motor Speedway following a career-best run in November’s AAA Texas 500, where he finished runner-up to winner Jimmie Johnson. 

“Well, it ranks pretty high right now, just for the fact that I’ve never been to Victory Lane on the Cup side,” Harvick said of the importance of winning at Texas Motor Speedway. “I’ve won a ton of races there in the XFINITY and truck series as a driver and an owner. 

“Texas is one of those places where track position is so important to keep the handling on your car. There is never a dull moment because you’re trying to drive the car to the edge every lap. You’re trying to make the car go as fast as you can. When you’re in traffic, it’s harder to drive the car than it is when you’re out there by yourself for the fact that it takes downforce off of the car and it feels like the car is lifting out of the race track. It’s definitely a challenge every lap.” 

Texas-Sized Advantage 

Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has dominated Texas Motor Speedway, winning the AAA Texas 500 a record three consecutive years and owning the track record for career Sprint Cup victories with four.  However, all of Johnson’s victories have been celebrated with a black felt Charlie 1 Horse cowboy hat, which is the style presented to the fall race winner.  He still is in search of his first straw hat for winning the Duck Commander 500, where he has finished among the top 10 in six of the previous seven spring races. The only miss happened to come last year when he finished 25th. 

“At Texas, you have to work for it,” Johnson said. “The track is rough, bumpy and you have a fine line. Wind plays a factor. The tires fall off and your car is slipping and sliding.  All of those factors take me back to my roots in the off-road days. I really enjoy racing at Texas.” 

Rally Track 

Roush Fenway Racing has struggled since the outset of the season in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. The organization’s trio of Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne has combined for one top-10 finish and two laps led in the first six races of the season. Biffle earned Roush Fenway Racing’s only top 10 when he finished 10th in the season-opening Daytona 500. 

Texas Motor Speedway could be the prescription to end Roush Fenway Racing’s early-season swoon. Team owner Jack Roush has nine Sprint Cup Series victories at Texas, including two by Biffle. 

“It’s been a good track for me in the past and I feel like we’ve made some positive changes with our cars,” said Biffle, who won the spring race in 2005 and ‘12. “Texas will be a good place to take what we’ve learned so far this season and see what we’ve got. Plus, Saturday night races are always exciting.” 

Both Stenhouse Jr. and Bayne also have been to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Stenhouse Jr. earned his only victory at Texas in the 2012 O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 and Trevor Bayne recorded his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series win in the 2011 O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. 

Last Laps 

Defending Duck Commander 500 champion Joey Logano could make history by successfully defending his crown. No Sprint Cup Series driver has won consecutive April races at Texas Motor Speedway. In fact, success can be fleeting following a win. Nine of the 17 defending spring race winners have finished outside the top 20 in their title defense. … The third-place starting position is the most rewarding starting spot in the field at Texas Motor Speedway, producing more wins that any other starting position (6). The most recent winner from that starting position was Jimmie Johnson in November’s AAA Texas 500. … After missing the last NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson will return to racing action this weekend for the Duck Commander 500. Larson, who missed Martinsville after fainting during an autograph session the day prior to the race, has been cleared by doctors to return to his No. 42 AXE Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.  

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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