Five hundred miles of high speed fun from the Texas Motor Speedway in the Samsung Mobile 500 tonight. Tonight’s race is the first night race for the Sprint Cup Series at Texas. David Ragan claims his first career pole and will lead the field to the green flag tonight. Carl Edwards, winner of Friday night’s Nationwide Series race will start second tonight. There will be many story lines to follow tonight, and green flag stops could be huge. The Nationwide race last night showed us that long green flag runs could be the order of the day. A misstep on pit road and a driver could lose out on doing the Texas Two Step in victory lane.
The field has taken the one to go signal and we will get the green flag when the field gets back to the start finish line. Huge crowd on hand and they come to their feet and the green flag is out! Ragan leads into turn one and through two with Clint Bowyer in second. The middle of the field is two by tow back at the start finish line. Lap four and Edwards has worked his way back into second position.
As an observation, the crowd for the race tonight is one of the largest in recent memory I can recall at Texas. I am sure Eddie Gossage pulled out all the stops to get tickets sold for the race tonight.
Lap 10 and the caution comes out for the first time tonight when Tony Raines blows up an engine on the front stretch. All the teams come in for pit stops. Ragan wins the race off of pit road. Dave Blaney is facing the wrong direction on pit road. Tony Stewart was pulling out of his pit and hit Blaney. Stewart has a lot of damage on the right front of the car. Kevin Harvick penalized for a right side tire violation. Harvick left the pit box without the tire being back towards the pit road wall. Stewart is back in the pits having the front of his car worked on.
Lap 15, Kurt Busch stayed out during the stops and will bring the field back to life with Brad Keselowski by his side. Keselowski beats Kurt Busch off of turn four and takes the lead. Keselowski did not pit under caution as well.
Lap 29 and you can throw a blanket over the top three cars. Keselowski continues to lead with Kurt Busch in second and Matt Kenseth is in third. Going through turns three and four, each driver is taking a different line and then falls into line going down the front stretch. Good racing at the front of the pack. Lap 32 and Kenseth has moved into second.
Lap 43 and Kurt Busch has fallen away from the top two cars as Keselowski continues to lead with Matt Kenseth only a car length or two away.
Lap 46 and we have caution for David Gilliland hammering the wall in turn one and two. Gilliland is saying over the radio that his night is done. Appears with the way the car got into the wall that it was a right front tire that went down. Big break here for Keselowski and Kurt Busch because they would have had to pit in a couple of laps without the caution coming out. The entire field hits pit road for four tires and fuel. Kenseth wins the race off of pit road with Ragan second and Biffle third. Looks like David Reutimann has damage on the right front of his car from a mishap on pit road with Joey Logano. Logano and Reutimann will both be back in to the pits for repairs to sheet metal. Andy Lally gets the luck dog for this caution.
Lap 51 and the green flag is back out with Kenseth leading them back up to speed. Kenseth started on the high side, but Biffle muscles his way to the point off of turn two. Biffle has led more laps to Texas Motor Speedway than any other driver.
Denny Hamlin is talking about a change in pitch in his engine on lap 58. Could Joe Gibbs Racing have engine troubles again tonight? They cannot afford to have another bad day at this point.
Lap 60 and Kenseth goes back to the point by passing Biffle. Biffle has indicated on the radio that his car is starting to get a little loose.
Well it has finally happened. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is running 12th on lap 75. Darrell Waltrip cannot sing his praises any more than he has tonight. I know Jr. is running better and I want to see him win, he deserves it, but Waltrip sometimes goes overboard with what he has to say on Jr. Lap 78 and Ragan has moved his way back to the second position. Good run for Ragan so far tonight.
Lap 92 and Kenseth is reporting some overheating from a wrapper on the grill. The wrapper is gone, but the heat is not coming down and the oil pressure is fluctuating. Kenseth continues to lead. Lap 93 now and AJ Allmendinger is the first to come in for a green flag stop.
Lap 95 and Kenseth is in for his pit stop. Tape is coming off of the front of the car and four tires and fuel. A lot of the field is now pitting under the green. Kyle Busch is in and needs rear grip, so adjustments will be made to address that. Earnhardt Jr. is in, and also led a lap during the cycle.
Green flag stops have cycled through and the top five is Kenseth, Ragan, Bowyer, Allmendinger, and Biffle (Lap 102).
Lap 114 and the caution is out for tire debris on the back stretch from Kenny Schrader’s car. Schrader lost a tire off of turn two but kept control of the car. Kahne is the free pass car on this caution. Although everyone pitted just around 15 laps ago, they are all coming in again. Kurt Busch leads them off pit road with Keselowski being second and Kenseth out third.
Lap 120 and Kurt Busch takes the green flag and we are back under way. Busch gets a great restart and he has a five car length lead out of turn two. Good racing going on back in the field at this point, with a lot of cars running side by side. Ragan now gets by Keselowski for third on lap 123. Lap 125 and move Kenseth to the lead. David Starr, making his first Sprint Cup race, bounced off the wall and has taken the car to the garage. No caution and we soldier on.
Lap 127 and Ragan continues to look good as he passes Kurt Busch for second.
Lap 140 and the field is calm for the time being. Cars are basically single file and logging laps. Jamie McMurray has made an unscheduled stop for an unspecified reason. Now Fox gives the reason, a lose wheel for McMurray.
Lap 155 and Darrell Waltrip cannot say “susceptible”.
Lap 163 and Fox has missed the start of green flag stops, but they have begun. Ragan is in for four tires and fuel, as is Biffle. Leader Kenseth is now in for his stop. Many cars are now coming in, and the stops should be complete in a lap or two. Jeff Gordon is the last car to pit on the cycle. Gordon has had problems with tight and loose issues all night.
Halfway Stats (Lap 167):
Leaders: 11 for 18 Lead Changes
Cautions: 3 for 14 laps
Average Speed: 147.061 mph
Lead Lap Cars: 26
Green flag stops have cycled, and the top five is Kenseth, Bowyer, Ragan, Biffle, and Kyle Busch (Lap 169).
Lap 184 and not much to really report. Kenseth continues to lead and has lapped cars up to the 23rd position. Jeff Gordon is next to go a lap down, but is holding him off. Not any more as Kenseth finally get the pass on Gordon. How is that Gordon does nothing all night, but gives the leader all he can handle before finally going a lap down?
Lap 191 and Kenseth’s team is reporting they did not get a full tank of fuel in the car. Kenseth has gone roughly 30 laps since the stop, he will need to stop early. That could throw a wrench into a great run that Kenseth has had so far.
Lap 199 and Kenseth is in for fuel and tires. Well, the field has decided that is must be a good time to pit. Six or seven other cars have come in for fuel and tires now. Monkey see monkey do at this point. Regan Smith penalized on green flag stops for a tire getting loose on pit road.
Green flag stops have been completed, lap 207 and the top five are Kenseth, Bowyer, Busch, Ragan, and Edwards.
Lap 208 and we get a caution for debris on the back stretch. Leaders are going to stay out this time since they have just been in. Some of the lead lap cars take the opportunity to pit. There are 13 cars on the lead lap at this point. Tony Stewart gets the lucky dog on this caution.
Lap 212 and Kenseth sends us back into turn one under speed. Bowyer rockets off of two and get the lead. Ambrose is in third and making it interesting as well. Kenseth now holds the second position.
Lap 215 and the caution is out for a big wreck on the back stretch. Mark Martin is involved, Truex Jr., and Regan Smith. A hard lick again for Truex Jr. who hammered the outside wall and then got hit by Martin. Looked like Harvick got into Truex Jr. when Truex Jr. got a little loose coming off of two. I do not think that Harvick did anything wrong, just one of them racing deals.
Lap 221 and we are back under green with Bowyer maintaining the lead. Kenseth is second and Ambrose maintains his third place station. Good race for fifth and sixth with Paul Menard and Kyle Busch racing each other.
Matt Kenseth is now the all time leader in laps led at Texas. Remember earlier it was Biffle.
Lap 240 and the top five is Bowyer, Kenseth, Ambrose, Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards.
Lap 246 and a change in the top five, Kyle Busch has passed Ambrose to move into the third position.
Lap 248 and leader Bowyer is hit by Brian Vickers trying to stay one lap down instead of two. Bowyer almost loses it, but saves it. Kenseth moves up and passes Bowyer to take the lead. Lap 249 now and Kenseth hits pit road for another green flag stop. With Kenseth in, other cars are now on pit road. No one will be able to make it to the end from here, so strategy will be interesting as the laps wind down.
Lap 262 and Kurt Busch has not yet pitted and is leading the race. He is giving up time on the track, but is gambling for the caution. Some other cars have not stopped as well. Different strategies are now playing out as we get closer to the checkered flag.
Lap 270 and Kurt Busch finally bring it to pit road. Tony Stewart now leading and will need to pit soon. Kyle Busch has made an unscheduled pit stop with a tire vibration. Left rear tire was loose according to the broadcast.
If this race stays green all the way to the end, the finishing order could be all jumbled up. We could have a surprise winner with strategy. Tony Stewart is now in on lap 276. He possibly might be able to make it from here. Jeff Gordon is the last car that has yet to pit. Stewart has now been busted for speeding on pit road entering. Jeff Gordon is now making his stop.
Lap 281 and the top five is Kenseth, Bowyer, Edwards, Ambrose, and Menard.
Lap 294 and Kenseth and Ragan are making their last stop of the night. Like it has occurred before, the leaders come in and a lot of other cars hit pit road. There are two cars to watch until the end of the race to see what happens, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. I think they are going to gamble for the yellow or the finish. They may not win, but they may get better finishes with the strategy than what they would have gotten otherwise.
Jeff Gordon’s Twitter feed reports he is going to try to make it all the way without making another stop.
Lap 310 and the top five is Kurt Busch, Kenseth, Bowyer, Busch, Edwards.
Lap 320 and Kurt Busch is in for fuel. New leader is Kenseth.
Ten laps to go and the top five is Kenseth, Bowyer, Stewart, Edwards, and Menard.
Five laps to go and the only change in the top five is that Biffle has moved up to fifth.
He leads the most laps tonight and wins the race, Kenseth takes the checkered flag. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart run out of gas on the last lap. The top five at the end of the race is Kenseth, Bowyer, Edwards, Biffle, and Menard. Kenseth is the sixth different winner of the Sprint Cup season.
It was an interesting race at the end. A lot of green flag pit stops and stopping what seemed to be early. Kenseth had the best car all night long. We move on to Talladega next week. Cannot wait for the restrictor plate racing that we will see next weekend.
One more side note, I am glad I am not sitting on 114 waiting to get home in the traffic from Texas Motor Speedway. I have spent some time on that road after races at Texas, and it is not the most fun place to be. IndyCar is up tomorrow from Barber in Alabama.
Final race stats:
Leaders: 13 for 31 Lead Changes
Cautions: 5 for 24 Laps
Average Speed: 149.234 mph
Lead Lap Cars: 12