Quick Hits on Texas 1
The O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 was approached with both excitement and trepidation. Seeing Jimmie Johnson capture the pole and after being fastest in practice created a lot of high expectations. At the same time, many wondered what the result would be after the track used PJ1 grip compound in the turns. Combining that with the downforce package, what would Texas offer? It offered a good, solid race. It won't be confused for a nail biting epic classic but it wasn't at all a bad race. That means a lot at a track that's provided fans with some pretty poor events in the past.
26 lead changes among 13 drivers should get the attention of any race fan. Was it easy to pass? No, but is that something fans really want to see? Shouldn't the ability to pass be a difficult skill at this level of racing? Many assumed the field would be strung out within two laps after a restart. That wasn't the case at all and that was a great improvement.
A week after looking like he might be relegated to just running laps, Johnson found some speed that he's been lacking for a while. The entire Hendrick stable was much improved. William Byron and Chase Elliott also led laps. Johnson's 5th place finish was his first top 5 since the Coke 600 last spring almost a year ago. Hard to believe, isn't it? Byron was 6th, Elliott finished 13th and Bowman was 18th. Overall, today was the best day Hendrick has seen in a long time.
It was a tough day for Penske when looking at the results. Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney both led laps but later problems took away their chances of good finishes. Brad Keselowski had an early issue and was never a factor. We know this team is a force to deal with though so this should be just a minor bump in the road.
This was another solid race for the Stewart-Haas teams. Daniel Suarez tied his career best finish with 3rd place and yet again all four of the team's cars finished in the top 10.
In the end though, it was another win for Gibbs and Toyota. Kyle Busch looked like the man to beat until he had issues. A week after wondering how many races Denny Hamlin has given away to pit road penalties, he overcame not one but two pit road problems to come back and take the win. Teammate Erik Jones rallied to finish 4th.
Now it's on to the short track in the Tennessee hills of Bristol. A year ago that race gave us a fantastic battle to the finish between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson. Busch hasn't missed a beat while Larson would love to once again be a factor at the end of a race. Regardless of who's a factor, this race is a favorite of just about everyone who calls themselves a NASCAR fan. Let's get ready to see what story is written at Bristol and hope it's a classic we all hope to see there.