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Phil Allaway · Thursday October 24, 2013
Last week, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing planned a three-day test at Texas Motor Speedway in order to prepare for the AAA Texas 500, which will be run on November 3rd. However, the entire test was washed out due to rain on both Monday and Tuesday. Richard Childress Racing was already scheduled to hold a two-day test this Tuesday and Wednesday, by themselves, but they were now joined by the other four teams, creating a large-scale test session. For the most part, it was a very good practice for all teams involved.
For championship contender Matt Kenseth? Not so much.
Kenseth’s test at Texas lasted a grand total of nine laps on Tuesday before he blew a tire and crashed hard into the wall. Afterwards, the No. 20 team packed up and returned to North Carolina, leaving the title contender none too pleased.
“We just had a tire problem and crashed, so we’re done for the test,” Kenseth said. “When you run nine laps and one blows apart for no reason, that’s always a cause for concern, for sure.”
Luckily, in Kenseth’s case the car that he crashed was not the car that he planned on racing in Texas. That Toyota was back at the shop, safe and sound.
Kenseth’s issues were the only tire failure issues encountered during the three-day test. However, the test did show that tire wear could be an issue. The tire compound, already set by Goodyear is actually wearing quite a bit on the 1.5 mile quad-oval. Kevin Harvick stated that the tires on his No. 29 would completely wear out after 35-40 laps, which is short of a full fuel run. The tires that will be used in Texas are the same compound that was used in April. There were no tire failures during the race then. However, it’s not all bad. Carl Edwards seemed to like the rubber.
“Next Sunday is going to be a really great race and it’s because of that racetrack,” said Edwards. “It’s because right now, you can drive in the corner, turn that car sideways and either run the very bottom or you can run right up against the fence and the track is taking rubber. Whatever is going on with the Goodyear tire and the way that this asphalt at Texas has aged, it’s letting the rubber stick to the racetrack. As it sticks to the racetrack, that part of the track gets slick so people move up and find different grooves and then, when it all gets slick, it starts over again and everyone goes back to the bottom. This is the type of racing that I like to participate in and I hope the fans enjoy it. That’s rare right now with all the new surfaces out there. This is as good as it gets.”
No speeds were reported during the test. Expect high speeds during qualifying next week, but a significant dropoff during the race.
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