Driving Texas

Cole Bothun

Texas Motor Speedway is home to many race series, from the Sprint Cup Series to the Indy Series, and on April 13 it will host the Sprint Cup Series in the National Rifle Association (NRA) 500. The Sprint Cup Series is the pro circuit of American racing. This grueling 500-mile race brings out the animal in most drivers. With cars traveling close to 200 miles per hour going into its four turns. The Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) has seen many of racing’s greatest drivers grace its finish line since 1997, most recently with Jimmie Johnson who was the victor at the American Automobile Association (AAA) Texas 500 in November. For Terry and Bobby Labonte, this race is a semi-homecoming since their hometown is in Corpus Christi.

With (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) leading the Sprint Cup Series standings coming to Texas by (12) points, this race could put any driver at the top of the leaderboard or give that driver an advantage when the Sprint Cup Series travels to Kansas for the Scientifically Treated Petroleum (STP) 400.

“I am excited to see if Jimmie Johnson will take back the points lead,” junior Rhain Burnham said. “I am not particularly a fan of Johnson’s, but I do like people who can comeback from a deficit.”

The Sprint Cup series has always made two stops in Ft. Worth at the one-and-a-half mile track, one in the first weeks of April and one in the first weeks of November, since its opening in 1997. The two slots in the former Winston Cup Championship were bought out by Texas Motor Speedway owner Burton Smith. Victors since 1997 at TMS are Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson, each with two wins. Carl Edwards holds the position with the most Sprint Cup wins at TMS. But the odds are not always put on frequent victors; the track has also had many first-time winners such as Jeff Gordon in April of 2009 and Kurt Busch in November of the same year.

“I am excited to see Jimmie Johnson at Texas Motor Speedway,” senior Xavier Castillo said. “I am rooting for Jimmie.”

With the change in the shaping of the cars for the 2013 Sprint Cup, how these stock cars will handle is just as much a wild card as the race itself. Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota and Dodge all made changes to their 2013 cars when the chairman of NASCAR requested that the cars be made as close to the market car as possible. Most notable is the newer model of the Ford Fusion with its flat nose similar to that of the current 2013 Ford Fusion. This change gave the manufacturers a chance to make their cars, as close to the showroom floor cars as possible, while still meeting NASCAR standards.

“Watching cars perform at their best is what I like,” senior Christian Ruiz said. “I work on cars for a living and I love to watch people test not only their cars but their minds.”