When NASCAR teams arrive at Texas this week they’ll see for the first time a Texas track with less banking in Turns One and Two. The banking in those turns has been decreased from 24 degrees to 20, while Turns Three and Four remain at 24 degrees. There also will be an extra 20 feet of racing surface in Turns One and Two, pushing the total to 80 feet.
The track also installed a new drainage system, which is intended to speed up track drying in the event of rain.
Jeremy Bullins, crew chief of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion, is optimistic that he and Blaney can adapt quickly to a layout they’ve never seen before.
“I’m really excited to get to Texas,” Bullins said. “If you look at our best tracks, the fast intermediates that have most recently repaved are often great tracks for us.
“This week will be a challenge with the reconfigured banking and not having tested there.
However, one thing that makes me feel confident is how well we ran at Kentucky last year, with a similar aero package and also a track that was reconfigured to have different banking in the turns. I feel like we can learn a lot from what we did there as we had a lot of speed.”
At Kentucky last year, Blaney started 15th when rain washed out qualifying but raced his way into the top five before being collected in a crash.
Bullins also said his team’s performance so far this year gives him more reasons to be optimistic heading into Texas. Blaney and the Wood Brothers are seventh in the Cup standings after the first six races with three top-10 finishes and an average finish of 14th.
“So far, 2017 has been a good season for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion,” Bullins said.
“Some of the results may not show it, but we’ve been fast every week.”
He said that while the final result from the most recent race at Martinsville was disappointing, there were encouraging signs.
“After running in the top five and ending the second segment in fifth, we took the time to fix some damage and that got us in the back and we got torn up again,” Bullins said. “While we were disappointed, to have a car that competitive in Ryan’s third race there bodes well for the Chase race there in the fall.
“I feel like he did a great job of figuring out how to get around there very quickly.”
Qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas is set for Friday at 5:15 p.m. (6:15 Eastern Time), and the race is scheduled to start just after 12:30 p.m. (1:30 Eastern) on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.