Friday, April 4, 2008

NASCAR Tracks: Texas

Texas Motor Speedway on NASA World Wind 1.3.Image via Wikipedia
Texas Motor Speedway is a newer version of Atlanta Motor Speedway. Atlanta is a bit longer -- 1.54-miles vs. Texas's 1.50-mile. Both speedways are quad-ovals. The banking is identical at both tracks -- 24 degrees in the turns, 5 degrees in the straightaways. The straightaways are a little longer at Atlanta. Texas can hold around 35,000 more fans, around 160,000.

Bruton Smith spent $250,000 to construct Texas Motor Speedway ("The Great American Speedway") in the northwestern corner of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area, between Ft. Worth and Denton. The facility also includes a road course and legends layout in the infield of the 1.5-mile oval. There's also a smaller oval, the 1/5-mile Lil Texas Motor Speedway, and a 2/5-mile dirt track. Legendary racing promoter Eddie Gossage has been the president of the track since it opened.

The big oval was completed in 1996 and Mark Martin won the first NASCAR event at the track, a Busch (now Nationwide) Series race in April 1997. Jeff Burton won the first Cup race at TMS, the Interstate Batteries 500, the next day.

Texas competes with Atlanta in pure speed. They are both big ovals with long straightaways and high-banked turns, and most importantly, no restrictor plates. Texas was a little faster when it was new, Atlanta is a little faster now that both have aged racing surfaces. Brian Vicker set the Cup qualifying record in the fall of 2006, 196.235 mph. Actual race speeds don't fall off too much from that; speeds of over 200 mph before you reach the corners in Turns 1 and 3. Carl Edwards holds the record for Cup wins at Texas, 3 -- he won in the fall of 2005 and swept both races in 2008.

Two racetracks, North Wilkesboro Speedway and North Carolina Speedway (Rockingham), were bought by Bruton Smith and closed so that Texas Motor Speedway could have two Cup races. The track hosts the Samsung 500 along with a Nationwide Series Race in April, and a Camping World Truck Series race in June. In November, the track hosts all three national series, including the Sprint Cup race, the Dickies 500, the eighth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

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Cup race winners

NASCAR tracks index

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