Monsters? Dragons? Next-level track prep hits Texas – Nascar
FORT WORTH, Texas – To help prepare its fresh new pavement, Texas Motor Speedway will continue employing the highly specialized “Tire Monster” and “Tire Dragon” again Saturday night and Sunday morning to get the racing surface ready for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
Two months ago, the track unveiled its newly paved 1.5-mile racing surface — altering Turns 1 and 2 by decreasing the banking from 24 to 20 degrees and adding 20 feet of width.
Goodyear did not feel a tire test was necessary coming into the race weekend and the track offered an extra hour of opening practice to help the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series prepare for the race.
Four drivers — Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, Trevor Bayne and Kasey Kahne — have gone to backup cars following incidents on Friday (Jones, Elliott) and Saturday (Bayne, Kahne).
But the XFINITY Series race Saturday afternoon was uneventful in terms of track issues and Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage was optimistic about Sunday’s race — especially considering the extra efforts of the “Monster” and the “Dragon” devices to work the track surface in. Both will make laps around the track Saturday from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. and then begin again Sunday morning at 6 a.m. until pre-race activities begin in an effort to apply more rubber to widen the racing grooves.
The vehicles drag tires and move at a constant rate to work the new asphalt in. The Dragon from Kentucky Speedway goes slowly, the Monster from Texas goes fast. And Gossage reminded that the track has been running the devices for two months in preparation.
Gossage said he was encouraged by the surface heading into Sunday’s race, but careful and cautious to give a two thumbs-up verdict yet.
“The first half of the race was full of cautions but the second half of the race was race-y,” Gossage said of the XFINITY Series’ 200-lapper Saturday.
“All the drivers I’ve talked to say [Turns] 1 and 2 are coming in and getting wider, [Turns] 3 and 4 are treacherous. They say it’s unbelievably narrow. I explained that’s because turns 1 and 2 are wider now. Perspective is different for them now. It’s behaving like new asphalt. We’ve done all sorts of things to prep it but at the end of day you can’t simulate it. Nothing will totally simulate race cars at speed.
“Ask me tomorrow about this time. There’s some anxiety to it all, but I was encouraged by the way it got better as the race went on today.”