The AAA Texas 500 is the eighth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, one of the last three races on the chase to the championship. Tony Stewart turned victory in the AAA Texas 500 into the key point on the timeline to the 2011 Sprint Cup championship. Stewart set the pace for 173 tours of “The Great American Speedway!” and capitalized when leader Jeff Burton ran out of fuel with five laps remaining. Stewart edged title contender Carl Edwards by 1.092 seconds at the checkered flag for his second Texas Sprint Cup victory.
With four races left in the season Jimmie Johnson’s Sprint Cup Series championship is his to lose. His victory this past weekend at Martinsville placed him in the lead for the Sprint Cup. Johnson’s team just seems to put it all together, bringing consistent performance during varying track and weather conditions. Had Johnson not made mistakes earlier in the season, he’d be leading by a larger margin.
In second place for the chase is Brad Keselowski who has earned respect as a serious title contender. At least right now, he has only two less points than Johnson. Also worth considering, Keselowski has made more trips to victory lane this year than Johnson. The Penske Racing driver trails Johnson by two points heading into Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Keselowski is desperately trying to hang on as the year winds down.
EARNHARDT IS Back
Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series last weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway after being medically cleared for competition. Since being diagnosed with a concussion following the Oct. 7 race at Talladega, Ala., Earnhardt has participated in a rehabilitation program and has been cleared to return to the track.
Earnhardt currently ranks 12th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He did not compete in the Cup events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway after being diagnosed with a concussion. Regan Smith filled in for Earnhardt at both tracks. Past performance at Texas would suggest that Dale Jr. will not be a top finisher Sunday.
Who to Watch For:
Jimmie Johnson – Coming from a victory last week, see Johnson give his all to pull away from other chase contenders.
Brad Keselowski – The Chase contender has a the most victories of the season. He drove smart last weekend, preserving a small distance between himself and Johnson in the standings.
Tony Stewart – Stewart won last year’s Chase and would like to get another win this season. Sitting 71 points out of first place with only three races left makes winning Texas a “spiritual” victory.
Matt Kenseth – Matt won his second race of the Chase, but still remains way back in the standings. He is a very consistent driver at this track. He won here in April. Kenseth also won in Charlotte in October. Don’t be surprised if Kenseth wins again at Texas.
Truck and Nationwide Series
Home state native James Buescher, who started his racing career in Legends Cars at Texas Motor Speedway, secured The Dallas Morning News Qualifying Day pole position at the last WinStar World Casino 350k with a lap of 181.062 mph. The young talent in the Camping World Truck Series served notice as Austin Dillon and Blake Feese trailed Buescher.
Also last year, Trevor Bayne continued setting personal career highlights when he captured his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. Bayne nipped veteran Denny Hamlin by 0.142 seconds to earn the Victory Lane visit with Carl Edwards third in the 300-miler highlighted by 11 lead changes.
The Wild Asphalt Circus is coming to town. In addition to the wild race action on the asphalt, fans also will be treated to a wide range of entertainment associated with the theme that will range from the newly formed “No Limits” Thrill Riders to high divers to popular musical acts. This new theme has circus performers in wagons filled with various circus items, big-top concession food and t-shirts featuring the new look. A sneak preview of the “No Limits” Wild Asphalt Circus for fans will come at the upcoming AAA Texas 500 NASCAR triple-header weekend scheduled for Nov. 1-4. The Circus will be operational from 1-11pm on Friday and Saturday.
On Sunday, prior to the race, the Eli Young band, which is considered one of country music’s fastest-rising groups along with its hit single “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” will return to North Texas where the group’s popularity started several years ago. The Eli Young band will take center stage on the front stretch at 12:20 p.m. and will perform an hour-long concert that will precede the eighth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup AAA Texas 500 race that starts at 2 p.m.
Eric McClure, 10 a.m. – noon, Tom Thumb, 101 Trophy Lake Drive, Trophy Club
Eric McClure, 1-3 p.m., Walmart, 1601 W. State Highway 114, Grapevine
Elliott Sadler, 2 p.m., Walmart, 4104 State Highway 121, Bedford. Wristbands available at 10 a.m. at Coca-Cola Simulator in parking lot.
Bobby Labonte, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Tom Thumb, 101 Trophy Lake Drive
Elliott Sadler, 11 a.m., One Main Financial, 6548 Lake Worth Blvd., Lake Worth
Dale Earnhardt Jr., 7 p.m., Billy Bob’s, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth. Visit www.clickedin.com/dalejr to enter for a meet-and-greet. 15-minute Q&A follows.
Aric Almirola, 3:15-4:15 p.m., Brookshire’s Campground Store, TMS
Bobby Labonte, 9:15-10 a.m., Brookshire’s Campground Store, TMS