Rain Sets Up Doubleheader
By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
Fort Worth, Texas – NASCAR intends to play two at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Day-long rain in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex forced NASCAR officials to postpone Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Nationwide Series race. The event has been rescheduled for 8 p.m. (CDT) Sunday, following conclusion of the Samsung Mobile 500 Sprint Cup race. The 334-lap Cup race is scheduled to take the green flag at 2:16 p.m. (CDT).
“NASCAR has decided to postpone the race until (Sunday), and we’re going to have a rare opportunity which I think is cool…to play two,” TMS president Eddie Gossage said. “It’s a rare opportunity to see 800 miles of racing all in one place. I don’t know anybody’s that’s run a Cup race and a Nationwide race both on the same day.”
The Nationwide race will be telecast live on ESPN2 beginning at 8 p.m. Fox is broadcasting the Cup race.
Gossage said fans with Cup tickets will have priority to seating at both events. Fans holding O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 tickets will not be admitted through the gates until after the checkered flag flies for the Cup race. Although not officially announced last night, Gossage said he hoped that any two fans having a ticket for the same seat would be able to work out an arrangement via empty nearby seats.
Gossage said the decision was made following day-long discussions among NASCAR officials, TMS staff, The National Weather Service and Fort Worth Police Department. “It’s a group decision, and we have to include the TV network to make it fit their programming times,” Gossage said. “We’re all in this together and we all lose because the fans lose. Nobody likes that. But it’s going to be a full day.”
Gossage said the principals “never talked” about running the Nationwide race on Monday. “We all liked the idea of running both of them on Sunday and I think it’s best for the fans,” Gossage said. “So many of them have to be at work on Monday, and if they can stick around a little later they’ll be able to see both races. We think this is probably the best possible plan we can come up with our fans.”
Gossage said NWS officials are predicting that the rain should stop around noontime on Sunday.
Meanwhile, a total of 15 drivers are scheduled to compete in both events, including the top four in Nationwide points _ Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Fifth-place Justin Allgaier is the first fulltime Nationwide driver in the points standings.
Keselowski, who has a four-point lead (974-970) over Edwards, said he was anxious for the challenge. “Those are tough days that really test you as more than just a competitor but as an athlete,” said Keselowski, who will start 12th in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger. “It’s kind of cool. I think I’ve got two good cars. I did a bad job of qualifying my Cup car (37th) but my Nationwide car is really fast.”
Keselowski said drivers running both races will quickly need to adapt to the different cars. “You’ve got to be able to show a certain skill-set,” Keselowski said. “It’s like if you’re in football, it’s like taking a snap as a wide receiver and then moving over and taking it as a running back. You got to do it right away. It’s the next play. It makes it interesting to see who’s got the talent to do that, and the mental strength.
“I’m a little nervous about it. I’m very fortunate to be leading the (Nationwide) points and I have no room to make a mental error if I want to win the championship all year. It’s going to be very draining to run the Cup race. It gives you the opportunity to make a mental mistake, just from being worn down. I’m going to have to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Joey Logano also will run both races, including a start from the pole in the Nationwide event.
“It really stinks that we weren’t able to race (Saturday), because I’m pretty excited about our car,” said Logano, who qualified the No. 20 GameStop Toyota Camry first at 185.663 mph on Friday. “We were really good in race trim during practice and putting it on the pole was just icing on the cake. So I feel like whenever we get this race in, we’re going to be really good.”
Meanwhile, the twinbill will present a huge and unanticipated obstacle to Busch’s bid to win his fifth consecutive Nationwide race at TMS. Jason Ratcliff, crew chief on Busch’s No. 18 Z-Lines Design Toyota, flinched at the possibility of Busch logging 800 miles in one day.
“I just don’t want him to have to do that,” Ratcliff said. “I don’t wish that on anybody. Of course for me, if he’s going to do that, I’d rather him run our (Nationwide) race first. I’m sure on the other side, Dave Rogers (Cup crew chief) would rather him run that race first. He’ll probably get his 500 in over there before he gets his 300 in over here. That’s tough, that’s a lot of laps and that can wear on anybody, but he won’t be the only one.”
Ratcliff said he is more concerned with how Goodyear’s tires will wear on what will be a very green racetrack. “Typically NASCAR gives us a yellow around Lap 20 or 25 under these circumstances just so we can check our tires,” Ratcliff said. “Other than that, I think the time of day we practiced in, we have a pretty good idea of how the car is going to react whether it’s day time or whether it’s cool, cloudy conditions.
“That’s going to change a lot because the track when it cools off and the sun goes down, the track picks up a lot of speed. The things that you didn’t see in practice, like when you pick up speed, your car travels more and bottoms things out. Those little things that you may not be prepared for because you thought you were racing under the same conditions that you practiced can pop up and bite you, so you have to think about that a little bit. Other than that, the track just gains some grip. I wouldn’t expect to see a big balance shift, just the speeds will pick up and be faster.”
– John Sturbin can be reached at email@example.com Comments