NASCAR & Auto Racing

Race day at Texas

Sunday's Race: 3 things to watch

1

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished sixth or better in his past four races, and even though he hasn't won in nearly two full seasons he will start first today on a track where he got his first Cup win eight years ago. Does the winless streak end today?

2

Thirteen drivers have won the 14 Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway. Only Jeff Burton, who won this race a year ago, is a two-time winner. Jeff Gordon, however, has never won at Texas. Gordon will start 18th Sunday, with Burton 35th.

3

Carl Edwards won at California and Las Vegas and was leading at Atlanta when he lost an engine with about 50 laps to go. He also was fastest in both of Saturday's practices. This, it seems, would be an Edwards kind of track.

Observations

 Kyle Petty said it wasn’t his idea to put Chad McCumbee in his car this weekend and that there’s nothing Petty enjoys more than driving a race car. Yet he’s once again taking a midseason chunk of races off to do TNT television and now he says he plans to skip Dover to go to his daughter’s wedding.

Those are Petty’s choices and that’s all great, but if the team feels it needs somebody who’s committed to making the 45 team viable all season, shouldn’t that be considered, too?

It’s easy to criticize the call now that McCumbee failed to make the show, but the Pettys are making some critical decisions these days about the long-term viability of their company.

It just seems Kyle can’t afford to be less than “all in” any more than anyone else in that equation can.

 Texas is still interested in getting its fall race off the early November weekend it now fills on the Cup schedule.

It’s usually the same week as hunting season opens in Texas and that makes a difference. Maybe the expected Atlanta-California swap could have a third element.

Atlanta to Labor Day weekend where California now is, California to the current Texas weekend and Texas to where Atlanta now is in the fall. The drawback to that would be that California and Phoenix would be on consecutive weekends and would compete to sell tickets.

But California and Las Vegas are now on back-to-back weekends early in the year and those tracks are closer than California and Phoenix.

Just The Facts

What: Samsung 500.

Where: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth.

Track type: 1.5-mile trioval with 24 degrees of banking in the turns.

Race distance: 500 miles (334 miles).

When: 2 p.m. Sunday.

Weather: Sunny and in the mid-70s.

TV: Fox Sports.

Radio: Performance Racing Network.

Observer Pick

DAVID POOLE

There were two great battles for victory at Texas last year and Matt Kenseth came up second in both of them. Kenseth, in fact, has finished second three times in the past four races here. It’s his turn to go that one spot better and get his first win of 2008

Winner: Matt Kenseth

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