Nascar Exclusive Race Report

Stewart-Haas Race Report:
Texas Motor Speedway | 4/9/2017

Greg Zipadelli|Vice President of Competition, Stewart-Haas Racing

Friday: Practice and Qualifying

“With the new surface we had a little extra practice than we normally do on a qualifying day and our cars showed really good speed. Between the No. 4 car getting the pole, the No. 14 in third, the No. 41 in the top-10 and the No. 10 car in top-20, we had a pretty strong day. It looks like the Fords are pretty good at Texas and looks like the new package works really well with the new repave. It keeps getting faster and faster and you’ve just got to keep adjusting your car.

“I think the guys did a very good job unloading for a new track configuration. The banking was different than what we had here in the past. The surface was similar to Kentucky’s repave last year, so we kind of looked at the things we did there. The biggest thing is being patient and letting the track rubber up and kind of come to your setup. You don’t want to be the first one out there and start chasing the racetrack. It was pretty slick to start.

“Obviously, we want to go as fast as we can, but we try to run as few laps as we have to. There was a little bit of strategy with tires. Some teams like to go with scuffs and some with stickers. Sometimes, stickers take a lap or two to come in at a place like this and sometimes scuffs are faster, but they tend to be a little bit tighter on your second or third run. So, the strategy was to pick the tires that complimented your car or your balance.

“The inspection process was tough on templates and they’re trying to keep everyone in a much tighter box than they used to be, so all our cars had to go around once. It was all very little things, nothing that hindered us.”

Saturday: Practice

“We had a couple of practices. The one early in the morning didn’t really do anybody any good. It was a lot cooler. Both of them were actually a lot earlier than we race, so the track temp was quite a bit different. The second practice warmed up a bit and the handling was a little more of an issue. When the car gets up on top of the racetrack it makes a real hard tire on the new surface. It’s pretty finicky.”

Sunday: Race

“During the race, it felt like you were always on a knife’s edge. You were either too tight or too loose. It was really hard to adjust and keep our cars where they needed to be. Track position was key. You couldn’t pass much and you had to do everything you could to keep your cars up front. Solid pit stops and fuel strategy were a big key, too. Overall, our cars did a decent job at that.

“It sounded like the track rubbered in throughout the race really well in turns three and four. A lot of drivers said when they would get up on the rubber it would slide around a bit and the track would get tight. The wind gusts were quite unusual, so it kind of makes you loose on one end and tight in the other. It’s pretty hard to adjust to that.

“It’s tough because you have a strategy of two tires and unless it’s a green flag or you’re further in the back, you just don’t want to give up track position, but since our cars didn’t run very well on two tires, we had to change that up and ended up putting on four tires a lot more than we thought.

“We were a little disappointed that we had that late caution. I felt like we had a shot at a win until that happened. For some reason, our cars didn’t like two tires, but with such little time to go you couldn’t put four on because you would lose too much track position. All of our guys put right-side tires on. It was a decent day, but it wasn’t a great one for us.”