Dallas Motorsports: Danica Patrick

Drivers to watch: NRA 500 at TMS

April, 12, 2013

With ESPN Stats & Information riding shotgun, here's who you should keep a close eye on during Saturday night's NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway:

Jimmie Johnson: "Five-Time" has outdone the entire field in some aspects over the past 10 Sprint Cup events. In that time, he has four of the 10 wins and has won three times from the pole, something no other driver has done even once. He also has three starts where he's earned maximum points, which is more than the rest of the field combined. Johnson led more laps at TMS (324) in 2012 -- more than 3.5 times any other driver. After last week's win at Martinsville, Johnson now has 12 multi-win seasons during his career, which ranks behind only Richard Petty (18), Jeff Gordon (14) and Cale Yarborough (13).

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage joins Galloway & Company to discuss the NRA sponsorship and who he's picking to win Saturday's Sprint Cup race.

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And don't look for that dominance to end on the 1.5-mile track at TMS. Johnson loves the distance, earning more career wins on 1.5-mile tracks (17 in 113 starts) than any other driver in NASCAR history. Jeff Gordon (16/161) and Tony Stewart (15/133) are on his heels, however.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Since the start of the 2012 season, Dale Jr. has really stepped it up. His average finish over his last 40 races has been 10.4 -- more than eight spots better than the 2009-11 seasons (18.8 average finish). And he's very comfortable at TMS, where he earned his first career victory. Earnhardt has four straight top-10 finishes at TMS and five overall since the start of the 2010 Sprint Cup season. For his career, he's got 12 top-10 finishes in 21 races. Not too shabby.

Roush Fenway Racing (Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards): RFR is no stranger when it comes to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway. The team has nine Cup wins at TMS, more than double the next-best effort (4, by Hendrick Motorsports drivers). Greg Biffle, who won the spring race in 2012, and Carl Edwards will again be behind the wheel in Jack Roush cars on Saturday night, so keep an eye on them. In the last five races here (spanning 18 starts), RFR drivers have two wins, 11 top-5 finishes and 15 top 10s. They've also led 38.7 percent of laps run at TMS.

Edwards is the winningest Cup driver at TMS, having fired the pistols three times in Victory Lane. He also has three top-10 finishes in his last four starts here, with an average finish of 7.3. Biffle, meanwhile, has one win and hasn't finished outside the top 10 in his last nine races at TMS -- an average finish of 5.7. That includes six top-5s.

Danica Patrick: You have to keep on eye on Danica, whose eighth-place finish during the 2012 Nationwide Series race at TMS is the second-best result of her NASCAR career. And don't forget she's coming off an impressive 12th in the Cup race at Martinsville last week. Patrick seems very comfortable running under the green at TMS, where she passed a personal-best 107 cars en route to a 24th place finish last November.

Brad Keselowski: You have to think a visit to Victory Lane is just around the corner for the reigning Cup champion. Keselowski has yet to win this season, but has an average finish of 7.2 thus far this season. That's ahead of the personal-best pace he set last season, as he had an average finish of 10.1 -- with five wins -- en route to the Sprint Cup championship.

Kyle Busch: After the worst season of his career, Busch still is a threat to win behind the wheel of any car, as his success across all three of NASCAR's series proves. After taking the checkered flag just once last season, Busch has gotten back to his winning ways in 2013 -- getting four wins in just 12 races. Over the last six seasons, Busch has 88 victories in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series.

Matt Kenseth: Kenseth is always a threat at TMS, having won twice on the 1.5-mile track. But it's not the checkered flags that impresses most. It's the career average finish here (8.3) that boggles the mind. He's got 12 top 5s, 15 top 10s and has led 772 laps at TMS.

Jeff Gordon: Saturday's start will the 696th in a row for Gordon, who will move within one of Rusty Wallace for second on the all-time NASCAR Iron Man list. Ricky Rudd holds the record at 788.

Tony Stewart: "Smoke" has always been a TMS favorite, but he's run into tough times so far this season with an average finish of 21.2 and only 154 quality passes, which ranks 22nd among Cup drivers. That being said, you can't count Stewart out as he's visited Victory Lane in each of the last 14 seasons, which is tied for seventh all-time behind Richard Petty's 18 seasons with a win. With a checkered flag in 2013, he'll join Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt on that list, and he'd also tie Herb Thomas for 13th all-time with 48 career victories.

Stats & Info: NRA 500 at TMS

April, 10, 2013

Playing the numbers game for the NRA 500, to be held at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night:

  • Jimmie Johnson is back in the points lead after a dominant Martinsville victory. It’s his 12th straight multi-win season -- the fourth-longest streak in Sprint Cup Series history. It’s also the fourth time he’s won at least twice in the first six races of the season. The other three times he did it, he went on to win the title. Johnson could add a third win at Texas, a track at which he led 324 laps last season -- nearly half the laps of the two races held there (669).

  • Johnson took the points lead away from his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished outside the top 10 for the first time this season. Earnhardt will look to bounce back at Texas, site of his first career win in 2000 and a track where he’s had five top 10s in the last six races, coming back from a slump.

    From 2000-06, Dale Jr. had top 10s in seven of his nine races for an average finish of 10.2. Over the next three seasons, through 2009, he failed to crack the top 10 in six races for an average finish of 21.2. Since then, however, he's averaged an 11th place finish in his last six races.

  • No team has a better record at TMS than Roush Fenway Racing, which has won nine of the 24 races -- more than twice as many as any other team. In the last five races at TMS, Roush Fenway drivers have led 646 laps (38.7 percnet) and have gone on to 11 top 5s and 15 top 10s in 18 starts, and they've won the last two spring races with Matt Kenseth (no longer with the team) and Greg Biffle.

  • Kenseth is no longer with Roush Fenway Racing, but he’ll look to bring his Texas expertise to Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth is the all-time TMS leader in top 5s (12), top 10s (15), laps led (772) and average finish (8.3). He’s just one win behind former teammate Carl Edwards, who has three.

  • Danica Patrick was a pleasant surprise at Martinsville, finishing 12th in her first visit there. She’s struggled this season on larger tracks, but TMS could be a place where she maintains momentum. Last year in the spring Nationwide Series race, she finished a NNS season-best eighth. And in her only Sprint Cup start at the track, she passed a career-high 107 cars under the green flag.

    Who stars in the Lone Star State?

  • Greg Biffle: Nine straight top-10 finishes at Texas; longest streak in track history (defending spring race winner).
  • Jimmie Johnson: Finished second and first at Texas last season (five top 10s in last six races).
  • Matt Kenseth: Five straight top-5 finishes at Texas (won spring 2011 race).
  • Carl Edwards: Three Sprint Cup Series wins at Texas (leads all drivers).
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Four straight top 10s at Texas (1st career NSCS win came at Texas in 2000).

    Who's just feeling alone?

  • Brad Keselowski: Has finished 14th or worse in eight of nine career Texas races (2nd last fall; 36th last spring).
  • Mark Martin: Has wrecked out of two of last four TMS races.
  • Ryan Newman: Has finished outside top 10 in last nine TMS races.
  • Brian Vickers: Has never finished better than 12th at Texas (14 starts).
  • Kyle Busch: Has finished outside top 10 in three of last four races at TMS.
  • Fitzsimmons & Durrett at TMS Media Day

    March, 4, 2013
    AM CT
    NASCAR Truck champ James Buescher joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett at Media Day at Texas Motor Speedway.

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    It's that time of year with the Texas 500 closing in -- just six weeks or so away -- for media day at Texas Motor Speedway. Ian Fitzsimmons and Richard Durrett will be there with the ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM radio crew.

    Lots of good guests will join us, including Danica Patrick's boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who made the jump to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition after four years in the Nationwide Series.

    We'll also talk to TMS president Eddie Gossage about the state of NASCAR, Danica Patrick's importance to the sport and what to expect at TMS in April.

    So join us on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM on Monday. Listen here.

    Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wins O'Reilly 300

    April, 13, 2012
    PM CT
    FORT WORTH, Texas -- After bizarre lighting problems and a wild late restart, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took home his second win in the first six races of the Nationwide season at the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 on Friday.

    While most of the pack went in to get their last set of tires during a late caution, Stenhouse Jr. stayed in the pack.

    "[Crew chief Mike Kelley] decided to go with no changes on that last pit stop, which I wasn't fond of, but he knows what he's doing," Stenhouse Jr. said. "That last restart was crazy. I think I spent the whole caution praying for a good restart."

    Owner Jack Roush has had some good luck in the Lone Star State. The win was the fourth in a row for Roush Fenway Racing at Texas Motor Speedway.

    "First thing I want to say is God bless Texas," Jack Roush said laughing after the race. "Texas has been really good to us."

    In the race's second year under the lights, a few of them weren't quite cooperating. Some of the track lights were malfunctioning around the third turn, causing two cautions and a red flag in the 163-172th laps.

    Race officials said it was a problem with one of the breakers, but Stenhouse Jr. didn't seem to mind.

    "We went a few laps through there and I thought it was fine. Some people had different opinions," Stenhouse Jr. said. "It was probably safer to stop it and get it back going."

    Paul Menard led for 100 laps, but couldn't hold on for a win. In the final laps, Menard went for one last push on the outside of Stenhouse Jr., but got caught in the middle when Denny Hamlin made the track three-wide.

    The win moves Stenhouse Jr. into second in the Nationwide Series standings, four points behind Elliott Sadler.

    "As soon as you get in the middle of a restart, you lose all of your momentum," Menard said. "I just feel like we let them get away with it."

    Rookie driver Austin Dillon's crew also took the gamble not to change tires to try for a bigger lead. He ended up falling back to sixth after the red flag in the 176th lap. After another caution, he opted out of getting new tires again to try and keep his position. He ended up moving into fifth, the highest-finishing rookie.

    "We're very proud of that finish, especially with less tires than the other guys out there," Dillon said.

    Danica Patrick made a great late move with some new tires to move from 16th into eighth, her best finish of the year.

    The action at TMS continues with the Sprint Cup Series Samsung Mobile 500 at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night.

    Tony Stewart isn't worried about slow start

    March, 7, 2012
    AM CT
    FORT WORTH, Texas -- Tony Stewart doesn't seem too worried about his slow start. He's currently 15th in the Sprint Cup standings after finishing 22nd last week in Phoenix and 16th at the messy Daytona 500.

    The reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion was used to the checkered flag last season, winning three of his last four races. This season, Stewart has started off with a lot of new things -- the biggest of which is new crew chief Steve Addington.

    "It's hard to predict how long it's going to take," Stewart said at Texas Motor Speedway's media day on Tuesday. "I don't think it will take long. We both worked well last weekend; we just had some bad luck during the race."

    That bad luck was a major part of his slow start. Stewart couldn't get his engine to refire after a caution period, costing him two laps during the Subway Fresh Fit 500 in Phoenix.

    Darian Grubb, his former chief, was part of the winning team in Phoenix with driver Denny Hamlin.

    In his fourth season as co-owner of Stewart-Haas racing, he said he's also getting used to the team's growth.

    "I don't have any days off," Stewart said. "It's a hard schedule as a driver. I don't know if I had a family that I would have time to do everything we're doing."

    This biggest addition to his team is Danica Patrick, who will drive a limited schedule in the Sprint Cup Series. Stewart said it's all about preparing her for a full schedule.

    "We kind of threw her to the wolves with the schedule," Stewart said. "You want to pick the places that are hard so when you are running for points, you've got that experience from the year before."

    After finishing 38th at the Daytona 500, Patrick isn't scheduled to race in the Sprint Cup Series until the Southern 500 on May 12 at Darlington Raceway.

    "At the end of the year she may not like me very much, but I think midway through the 2013 season, she's going to understand why we picked those races," Stewart said.

    Stewart will look to get back on track this weekend at the Kobalt Tools 400 in Las Vegas.

    Matt Kenseth put a bow on very bizarre SpeedWeeks

    February, 28, 2012
    PM CT

    As Monday turned into Tuesday, you wondered if the bizarre SpeedWeeks at Daytona -- something fans have waited for during what they consider an interminably-long offseason -- would ever end. Finally, it did with a clean sprint to the finish line during a three-lap overtime period with Matt Kenseth claiming his second Daytona 500 win.

    TMS president Eddie Gossage shares his thoughts on Monday's epic Daytona 500, the jet fuel truck explosion and how it could all help Texas Motor Speedway's marketing plan.

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    Kenseth, an often overlooked talent who has won a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship and 22 races in his career, simply buried his foot on the floor while Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave chase. Neither Biffle or Junior could even make a move to try to overtake Kenseth. That’s how strong he was.

    But the bizarre nature of SpeedWeeks at Daytona caused you to think back. Unknown John King won the NASCAR Camping World Series race on Friday night while Plano’s James Buescher maneuvered through a last lap wreck to win Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

    And then there was Danica. You would have sworn it was the Danica 500. If she wasn’t here, she was there. She was everywhere. All Danica, all the time, as America’s most recognized female athlete prepared for her NASCAR Sprint Cup debut. She ran in Thursday’s dual qualifying races, Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide race and then the Monday night/Tuesday morning’s Daytona 500. Three race, three wrecks. None, really, of her own doing. Welcome to NASCAR.

    But the word “bizarre” is perhaps the most-used word about the first race of the 2012 NASCAR season.

    Bizarre in that for the first time in the 53-year history of the Daytona 500, the race was postponed due to weather.

    Bizarre in that of the three major races at Daytona, 87 of the 122 cars that raced were involved in a caution, according to NASCAR. That means 71 percent of the cars were damaged in some way. Some were repaired and thus returned to the track, but few got by without any damage.

    Bizarre in that the race had a red flag delay of more than two hours after Juan Pablo Montoya's race car hit a jet-drier truck during a caution period. The truck, loaded with 200 gallons of jet fuel, erupted in an explosion. Not since the roof of the Metrodome collapsed under snow last year or an earthquake hit San Francisco's Candlestick Park moments before a game in the 1989 World Series have we seen such a bizarre sporting moment. Fortunately neither Montoya or the driver of the jet truck were injured.

    Bizarre in that driver Brad Keselowski tweeted photos of the burning jet truck as he sat parked on the backstretch. Tweeting. During the race. From inside his car (but not while driving). What other sport? As the TV network showed his report and gave his @keselowski handle, the driver’s Twitter followers jumped from some 20,000 to more than 200,000. Amazing.

    And then, bizarrely, nobody could pass Kenseth as he took the checkered flag and went directly to Daytona's Victory Lane. Winner. Again.

    Sadly, Kenseth’s win comes less than a month after his mother died of dementia.

    In 2009, Kenseth won a rain-shortened Daytona 500 that covered only 380 miles. With this morning’s overtime race, Kenseth ran 505 miles in winning the Daytona 500.

    He’s the 2012 Daytona 500 champ. SpeedWeeks is over. Almost too much to remember.

    So if you only recall one thing other than Kenseth’s triumph, remember the word:


    Bad timing for Daytona 500 postponement

    February, 26, 2012
    PM CT

    Sunday's postponement of the Daytona 500 -- the first time the race has been postponed in its 53-year history -- could not happen at a worse time for NASCAR.

    Coming off of the best finish in the point race ever in 2011 and heading into the new season with the hype of Danica Patrick's first ever NASCAR Sprint Cup race, the expectation was for extremely high TV ratings. With a typically wild Daytona finish, the sport would be off and running with new fans and increased popularity.

    Until rains pushed the start time back again to 6 p.m. CT Monday, it could've been even worse. Under the original plan (11 a.m. CT Monday), fans and interested potential fans would've likely been at work.

    So much for starting the season with a roaring start. And that's a shame.

    No one is more aware -- or disappointed -- than NASCAR itself. The perfect storm of Tony and Carl from last season merged with the season's first hurricane, named Danica, to create a storm for the ages. The hype and buzz from Daytona has been louder than the roar of 43 engines for some time now. Some media outlets have actually hired reporters, a rarity these days, to solely cover everything Danica.

    While Danica says she has a chance to win the Daytona 500, which she does but is unlikely, the real money is on Stewart, Edwards and others. Regardless, the hype has been good of the sport.

    The rain is not.

    Big day at TMS before engines even start

    November, 4, 2011
    PM CT

    Ladies and gentlemen, start your ...

    Uh, hold on for one second for this important announcement. And another. And yet another.

    That's what it was like at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday before the engines ever got going. One story after another. Driver after driver heading to the podium.

    The highlights:

    * Mark Martin, at a spry 52, signed a two-year deal with Michael Waltrip Racing through 2013. Martin will drive the No. 00 Toyota -- sponsored by Aaron's -- for 25 races each year.

    "At a time when other NASCAR teams are cutting back and staying the same, Michael's team is adding people and sponsors," Martin said Friday. "It is the perfect schedule for me. It enables me to catch my breath and spend more time with the fans."

    * A very familiar number will be returning full-time to the Nationwide Series in 2012, as Richard Childress announced that the No. 3 car -- made famous by Dale Earnhardt before his death in 2001 -- will be raced by Austin Dillon, who also is Childress' grandson.

    * Danica Patrick -- with not one, but two news conferences -- was the focus of attention for most of the afternoon. Racing for the first time since the death of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon in Las Vegas two weeks ago, Patrick will drive a Wheldon tribute car -- complete with the lionheart symbol -- during Saturday's Nationwide Series race and will donate her winnings to a trust fund established for Wheldon's family.

    Patrick admitted that she is glad to have a "roof over her head" after the tragic events in the IndyCar event on Oct. 16.

    "It does feel safer," she said. "It felt safer two years ago when I first got in a Nationwide car. Accidents still happen, but not a lot of serious head injuries. Having my head covered definitely adds a level of comfort."

    * Finally, Patrick announced plans for her Sprint Cup debut in 2012. She'll run a 10-race schedule -- eight races, including the fall race at Texas Motor Speedway, have already been announced -- for car owner Tony Stewart. She'll drive the green No. 10 Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing with her familiar sponsor, GoDaddy.com.

    "Ten is my favorite number," said Patrick, who will continue to run a full Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports. "It's the number I used when I was racing go karts as a kid, but this is the first time I've gotten to pick my number as a professional. There's a lot of emotion in it for me."

    Said Stewart: "It was about the best opportunity to get her the most experience at some places where she hasn't raced. A few races into this, she may hate me. But next year is all about learning these places where she will need to run well in the future."

    My greatest compliment: Dan Wheldon "got it"

    October, 19, 2011
    AM CT

    The motorsports community is mourning the death of a great champion, as two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and former IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon was killed in an accident Sunday at Las Vegas.

    It’s a tragic loss on so many levels, but rather than speculate on what happened and what could have prevented it, I think we should stop and take the time to celebrate the life of someone who had a very positive impact on this sport.

    [+] EnlargeDan Wheldon
    Courtesy of Texas Motor SpeedwayDan Wheldon suited up and kicked it around the pitch with FC Dallas during a promotion for Texas Motor Speedway.
    As a promoter, the greatest compliment I can give someone -- whether it is a driver, sponsor, PR person, etc. -- is that they “get it.” Wheldon got it. It’s really against the nature of drivers to “get it” and like it. They think about driving race cars 24 hours a day. But Wheldon did.

    Wheldon visited the Dallas/Fort Worth market several times helping promote Texas Motor Speedway races. From playing soccer with FC Dallas to being outfitted like a cowboy and leading the Fort Worth Herd cattle drive down Exchange Avenue, he was always willing to put his promoter hat on. He was actually rather good at soccer. I think that British heritage had something to do with it.

    The only thing he was hesitant to do was give up his Prada shoes when we donned him with western apparel. You’ve got a guy riding with a herd of longhorns in chaps and a cowboy hat, and he’s wearing Prada shoes. Oh, how he loved shoes. He ended up wearing the boots, but only because he didn’t want cattle mess on his designer shoes.

    And then there was “The Rumble at the Speedway,” perhaps my favorite promotion of all time. After Danica Patrick confronted and grabbed Weldon over her displeasure of him cutting her off at Milwaukee in 2007, we hung a “Danica vs. Wheldon” banner on the Victory Lane Broadcast Center that featured the two drivers’ head shots.

    [+] EnlargeDan Wheldon
    Courtesy of Texas Motor SpeedwayWheldon even played cowboy for a day -- eventually giving up his Prada shoes and putting on boots -- at the Stockyards in Fort Worth.
    “If he thinks I’m not going to remember that, HE’S CRAZY!” was the quote next to Patrick’s face. Above Wheldon’s, “She’s just feeling the pressure of not winning races.” We also sent out a “Tale of the Tape” to both local and national media with Dan "The Battlin’ Brit" Wheldon vs. Danica "The Phoenix Firebird" Patrick.

    I don’t think Patrick was very amused. She didn’t like it. Wheldon, on the other hand, played along. He walked across the stage during driver intros shadow-boxing to the Rocky theme song before the Bombardier Learjet 550k. I have a pair of boxing gloves in my office signed by both Patrick and Wheldon that reminds me of how much fun we had with that promotion.

    Wheldon was the perfect combo -- he had a great appreciation for the sport and could drive the wheels off a race car. Because of that, he had developed a huge fan base and had become the most popular driver in the series. Those fans will remember him for his passion and dignity.

    And, of course, that contagious smile will never be forgotten.

    Danica Patrick must handle rigors of NASCAR

    August, 18, 2011
    PM CT
    Rest easy, America. We're about to find out. Will she stay or will she go?

    Wednesday, Danica Patrick will announce her plans for 2012 and beyond. The worst-kept secret in motorsports -- heck, in American professional sports -- is that she will announce that she is moving full-time to the NASCAR Nationwide Series after running in IndyCars since 2005.

    Patrick will run all the NASCAR Nationwide Series races for Jr. Motorsports, which is owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. She will also run the Indianapolis 500 and, perhaps, one other IndyCar oval race to prep for the big race at the Brickyard.

    Patrick has run 109 IndyCar races in her career, winning once. She bolted onto the worldwide sports scene when she almost won the 2005 Indy 500 as a rookie. She has dabbled in NASCAR, running 19 Nationwide races over the last two seasons. Her best placing has been a fourth-place finish.

    So, how will she do in NASCAR?

    A year or so ago, a columnist with USA Today stopped just short of calling me a male chauvinist pig for saying that the diminutive Patrick would likely struggle with the much heavier stock cars in NASCAR, which runs more than twice as many races than IndyCar.

    Patrick has proven to be a quick learner, very adaptive to a completely different formula of racing than she had previously driven, and there is no questioning her talent.

    I hope she is successful. I am pulling for her.

    But the question remains. Not because of her gender, but because of her physical stature. The columnist from USA Today failed to mention that. Not because I didn't explain that during our interview, but because it didn't fit the agenda she aggressively, exhaustively promotes.

    Patrick is every bit as tiny as she is talented. She's slightly more than five feet tall and couldn't weigh more than 110 pounds. Like all championship athletes, Patrick is in tremendous shape and is driven, competitive and focused.

    But the fact remains that a NASCAR stock car weighs approximately twice as much as an IndyCar, making it physically more difficult. And the season can be a grind, particularly when a driver gets battered and bruised from crashes during the long season. Some drivers don't fully recover until the offseason, but you never hear about it publicly.

    A driver like Jeff Gordon, considered small by many NASCAR fans, is considerably larger than Patrick. Gordon is probably 5-foot-8 and weighs more than 150 pounds. Small by normal standards, but imposing when compared to Patrick's stature.

    So that's what I'm looking to see -- how does Patrick stand up to the physical wear and tear.

    It is not her gender, not her talent, not her ability, not her desire.

    If she can handle the wear and tear, she will succeed.

    And I hope she does. The spotlight she brings with her is important to NASCAR and will enhance its future success.

    Alex Tagliani wins second straight pole

    June, 10, 2011
    PM CT
    FORT WORTH -- Sitting in the 24th position heading into qualifiers at Texas Motor Speedway, Alex Tagliani finished the day as the pole leader for his second consecutive IndyCar series race.

    Tagliani took the top spot during the Indianapolis 500’s Bump Day and duplicated the same success for the Firestone Twin 275’s first race Saturday. He timed 48.6834 seconds at 215.186 miles per hour.

    Dario Franchitti will be next to Tagliani on Row 1 on Saturday, jumping from 20th to second place. Fanchitti finished .0872 seconds behind Tagliani at 214.801 mph.

    Will Power, who ranked first after the first practice session, will be behind Tagliani in Row 2. He’ll be next to Takuma Soto, who made the biggest improvement on the day from 30th to fourth place with an average speed of 214.470 mph, .1627 seconds behind Tagliani.

    Defending polesitter Ryan Briscoe will be alongside fellow Andretti Motorsport teammate Danica Patrick on Row 5 for the first race.

    Out of the 21 IndyCar series races held at TMS, six pole winners have gone on to win the race. Briscoe was the last to do it in 2010.

    The final practice is scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m. followed by the NCWTS WinStar World Casino 400 at TMS tonight.

    Will Power first during practice session

    June, 10, 2011
    PM CT
    IZOD IndyCar series points leader Will Power led a very tight 30-car field after the first practice session at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon.

    Power posted a lap time of 24.3654 seconds, separating him from last place by .5612 seconds. Ryan Briscoe placed second, .016 seconds behind Power. Alex Lloyd rounded out the top three, .074 seconds behind the leader.

    Danica Patrick's No. 7 car is the in the middle of the pack at 14th place. Patrick drove around the 1.455 mile track 38 times and her best time of 24.5853 seconds came at lap 27 at a speed of 213.054 miles an hour.

    History suggests that the outcome may be the same on race day. Out of the 21 IndyCar Series races at TMS, fourteen have had a margin of victory of less than one second -- seven have been decided by less than one-tenths of a second.

    Lloyd is positioned first in the qualifications order which is set to take place at 3:45 p.m. Other notables include Marco Andretti in eighth, Briscoe in ninth, Power in 18th and Patrick in 28th.

    Danica Patrick talks crashes, NASCAR

    March, 2, 2011
    PM CT

    FORT WORTH -- TMS president Eddie Gossage interviewed Danica Patrick on stage at Media Day on Wednesday and she shared a few notes:

    NASCAR driver Danica Patrick weighs in on the trending Charlie Sheen and gives us the inside scoop on her career arc.

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    * Patrick thinks fans may see a crash at the beginning of the second Twin 275 with a blind draw. "I think they’ll probably be a crash," Patrick said. "You are going to have some overanxious, someone out of place, someone who normally doesn’t race next to each other. I know it’s going to give Brian Barnhart a headache."

    That doesn't mean Patrick doesn't like the idea of the twin races. She does. "I think it’s going to be good for the fans and at the end of the day, they are the most important people," Patrick said. "I like it. I like change. I like something different."

    * Patrick, who raced in 13 Nationwide races last year, will run a bunch this year too. She's headed to Bristol this season and said she didn't know what to expect. "It's a half-mile and I've been told you don't brake apparently, so that's tough for me to fathom," Patrick said. Denny Hamlin, also in town for TMS Media Day, yelled that they weren't telling her the truth. "You need to brake," Hamlin said.

    * Patrick said one of the toughest things about NASCAR is trying to find the garages after qualifying. "I'm used to sitting in pit lane and driving out," Patrick said. "I've been lost after qualifying before and I feel kind of dumb on those moments." Patrick said drivers have been good in NASCAR about coming up an offering advice, especially open-wheel veteran Juan Pablo Montoya.

    * Patrick felt she made progress on 1.5-mile ovals in the IndyCar Series last year, but that she wants to improve on road courses.

    * Patrick talked about swapping engineering staff with Marco Andretti and that everyone is getting used to the new personnel.

    * Patrick said she gets asked if racing on tracks in an Indy Car gives her an advantage. "It gives a false expectation that I’m going to know my way around," Patrick said. "The way around in an Indy Car and a stock car are different. The speeds, we can go flat out on a mile-and-a-half in Indy car, the perspectives are totally different. It's like going to a new track, other than I know where the pits are."

    Danica Patrick, Eddie Gossage talk NASCAR

    March, 2, 2011
    PM CT
    NASCAR driver Danica Patrick weighs in on the trending Charlie Sheen and gives us the inside scoop on her career arc.

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    Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage joins Ben and Skin to detail the upcoming NASCAR circuit and TMS Media Day.

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    TMS Media Day: Danica Patrick and more

    March, 2, 2011
    AM CT
    Texas Motor Speedway will host its annual media day today in preparation for the Samsung Mobile 500 under the lights on Saturday, April 9. The festivities begin at 12:30 p.m. Dallas time and you can watch it here.

    Ben & Skin will be on live on 103.3 ESPN from the event and you can check back here on the blog all day for updates.

    Among the items on the program:

    * Rules for the Firestone Twin 275s IZOD IndyCar Series race. This year's event features two races and we'll know more about how all of that will work today.

    * Q&A sessions with Danica Patrick and Denny Hamlin.

    * Other guests include: Johnny Rutherford (three-time Indy 500 champ), local NASCAR drivers David Starr (Flower Mound) and James Buescher (Plano), Texas-based NASCAR team owners Steve Turner (Turner Motorsports, Houston) and Bob Leavine and Lance Fenton (Leavine Fenton Racing, Tyler).