By Toby Christie, NASCAR Writer
Many people have argued for years that 1.5-mile tracks are too cookie cutter. Well, they can’t claim that about Texas Motor Speedway anymore. This offseason, the track underwent a massive repaving and re-profiling which flattened the banking four degrees on one end of the track, which now gives crew chiefs a dilemma of what end of the speedway to adjust their cars for.
In opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, the new track layout bit several of the sport’s top drivers. In all three drivers sustained huge damage in the session.
Proving how treacherous the new track is, Cup Series champion Kyle Busch slapped the wall with about 40 minutes remaining in the practice, but his team is expected to repair their primary car before qualifying later Friday.
Rookie of the year contender Erik Jones and Chase Elliott weren’t as fortunate.
Jones was scored fourth fastest in the session, when he admittedly got over confident in what his car could do. Jones lost control of his car in the middle of turns three and four and made hard contact on the exit of turn four.
Despite the crash, Jones was in good spirits as he even signed autographs for fans on his way to the Xfinity Series garage after the Cup Series session concluded.
Elliott found troubles a little while later on the opposite end of the speedway. Elliott absolutely obliterated his No. 24 Chevrolet SS on the exit of turn two. After slamming the outside wall, Elliott spun and slammed head-on into the inside wall.
Elliott said he just misjudged the turn.
“Just got out of the groove there off (Turn) 2 and got too high and got the wall. Then had too much wheel in it going the other way, so just a mistake on my end,” Elliott admitted. “I hate it. I thought our car was pretty good, so hopefully this one will be just as good if not better.”
When asked if he would lay it all on the line in qualifying later Friday, Elliott didn’t sound like it would be a great idea.
“I’m not sure. I literally just walked up. We will talk about it and see what we think is best. It is obviously going to be a… just need to be mindful of the rest of the weekend. This is our last car. We just need to keep that in mind,” Elliott explained. “It’s definitely edgy so that is something to think about… good question.”
Expect more calamity as the race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway unfolds.