The race weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway kicks off this evening with practice for the Samsung Mobile 500. The session can be seen live at 5 p.m. Eastern on SPEED. Here are some notes on this weekend's race.
This is the 21st NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at the Texas Motor Speedway and also marks the first time that the Cup Series is racing on Saturday night. Four drivers have started the previous 20 events at Texas, dating back to the April 6, 1997 running of the Interstate Batteries 500: Jeff Gordon, Texas native Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, and 1997 Texas winner Jeff Burton, who also won here in 2007 to become the track's first repeat winner. Martin won in 1998, while Gordon won for the first time in 2009. Labonte's best result is a trio of third-place finishes.
Burton's victory in the inaugural Texas event was also his first career Sprint Cup win. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the only other driver to record his first win at Texas, doing so in April 2000. Earnhardt also won his first Nationwide Series race at Texas back in 1998.
In addition to Burton, only two other drivers have scored multiple Sprint Cup wins at Texas. Carl Edwards won in November 2005 and swept both events in 2008. Denny Hamlin, meanwhile, won both races last season. Ironically, Edwards' three victories all came in the No. 99 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford, the same car Burton drove to victory in 1997. His 2007 win came at the wheel of his current ride, the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Hamlin, of course, scored both of his wins last year for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Seven Sprint Cup champions have recorded victories at Texas: Terry Labonte (1999), Dale Jarrett (2001), Matt Kenseth (2002), Tony Stewart (November 2006), Jimmie Johnson (November 2007), Jeff Gordon (April 2009), and Kurt Busch (November 2009).
Roush-Fenway Racing has seven wins at Texas to lead all teams. In addition to the aforementioned four victories for his No. 99 car, Roush has also seen his No. 6 (Mark Martin, 1998), No. 16 (Greg Biffle, April 2005), and No. 17 (Matt Kenseth, 2002) cars win there.
Kevin Harvick has never won at Texas Motor Speedway, recording a best finish of third in November 2006. He is seeking to become the first driver to win three-straight Sprint Cup races since Jimmie Johnson won four in a row in late 2007. The third victory of Johnson's streak was his lone win at Texas, to date. Harvick had one previous shot to win three races, in September 2006 after winning back-to-back races at Richmond and Loudon. His attempt fell short when he blew an engine at Dover, finishing 32nd.
Brian Vickers holds the track qualifying record at Texas, which he set in November 2006 while with Hendrick Motorsports. His lap of 196.235 MPH is the fastest qualifying average speed of the 21st century and ranks second all-time among unrestricted tracks. Atlanta Motor Speedway is the fastest, thanks to Geoff Bodine's November 1997 lap of 197.478 MPH.