Cole's Corner

“What’s Trending?” at Texas Motor Speedway

By Cole Cusumano

They say everything’s bigger in Texas including the collective exhale presumably being emitted by the NASCAR Cup Series field. Kyle Larson and Hendrick Motorsports have won the last four races and the driver of the No. 5 has either placed first or second the past five weeks. The good news for everyone else is this stop in the Lone Star State will be an exhibition event in the form of the All-Star Race, hopefully giving teams time to collect themselves before the next points-paying contest at Nashville Superspeedway.

As for the developmental series, it will be business as usual at Texas Motor Speedway after a wild race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and a week off for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Something each series will have to deal with at the 1.5-mile track is the PJ1 traction compound. Designed to produce more grip at a place where passing has become increasingly difficult over the years, the hope is the substance will actually improve the competition level at Texas. As seen at the Great American Speedway dating back to 2019, the manufactured rubber has had more of a negative effect on the racing and produced some nasty wrecks. 

NASCAR Cup Series 

This will be the second-straight year the All-Star Race moves to a different venue and the first in Texas. As if the event hadn’t lost its allure over the past decade enough, holding it at a place where captivation is hard to come by took many by surprise.

In an effort to replicate lightning in a bottle from NASCAR’s glory days, the sanctioning body is imposing a new set of profound rules to spice things up. These include six stages in a span of 70 laps, and a variety of confusing formulas and inverts that make even the most intellectual fans scratch their heads.

“I can’t keep up with it,” Ross Chastain, who will be racing for a spot in the All-Star Open, said. “I will not lie, I do not know what the All-Star format is. All I can do is drive the race car.”

Another controversial ruling being implemented is the addition of a tapered spacer, which will  reduce horsepower between 500 and 510, designed to condense the racing around the 1.5-mile track. The one silver lining being well received by fans and those involved in the sport is the new $100,000 reward for the fastest pit crew in the event.

In recent years the All-Star Race has become an experiment for potential future endeavors in NASCAR. While it’s easy to scoff at the changes made for 2021, it’s important to witness the product before judging.

Trending on Twitter: Kyle Busch has some fun with his son, Brexton.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

It was Kaulig Racing who put on a show in Mid-Ohio after claiming the top-two spots with A.J. Allmendinger winning his second race of the season in impressive fashion. Contrasted to 2020, the Xfinity Series will only be making one stop in Texas, and with 13 races until the postseason, it’s starting to look like Austin Cindric’s title to lose. 

Last year, it was the reigning champion and Harrison Burton who won the two races in Fort Worth. As the playoff bubble expands each week there are drivers who were deemed serious contenders going into the season that are in dire need of a quality points day.

Noah Gragson led a race-high 43 laps and finished runner-up in the most recent race at Texas and he’ll need to replicate that success in order to get back on track. The JR Motorsports driver failed to finish the last three events and has a total of six DNFs on the season — which is a stark contrast to the three he tallied all of last season. He sits 11th in the standings only three points above the cutoff. 

Trending on Twitter: Brandon Brown has a very important message for YOU!

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 

John Hunter Nemechek solidified his status as the championship favorite when he scored his third win of 2021 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With just five races remaining in the regular season, there’s no denying the Truck Series has seen the most parity it has in about a decade. While there aren’t many surprises as to who’s on the outside looking in, there are inclinations of an unsuspecting budding star in the making.

Driving for Niece Motorsports, Carson Hocevar has captured the attention of the racing world. The 18-year-old’s season hit a peak in North Carolina after finishing a career-best runner-up en route to his third consecutive top-10. As a result, he is the final driver to the good in the standings 43 points to the good over former champion, Johnny Sauter.

Trending on Twitter: Nemechek gets the opportunity to run the No. 54 in the Xfinity Series for three races later this year.

Satisfy your points-paying action needs with developmental series double-header on Saturday, June 12 with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 220 at 1 p.m. ET, followed by the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 250 at 4 p.m. ET. Finally, witness the latest changes to All-Star weekend beginning with the All-Star Open at 6 p.m. ET on June 13, with the main event debuting at 8 p.m. ET. You can catch all the madness from Texas Motor Speedway on FS1.

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