Nearly every driver that raced in Sunday’s Samsung 500 complained about the handling of his racecar.
Everyone but race winner Carl Edwards.
Edwards held a commanding lead for much of the race, and beat Jimmie Johnson in a green-white-checker overtime restart to collect his second Sprint Cup Series win at Texas Motor Speedway, and his third of the 2008 season.
“There were a lot of cars that were virtually the same speed, so it was really difficult to get track position,” Edwards said. “But once we got it, the car was really good in clean air.”
Third place finisher Kyle Busch, who won Saturday’s Nationwide Series race and led 50 laps of Sunday’s event, said he was constantly battling his racecar throughout the day.
“It would go from tight to loose to tight/loose to loose to everything, you name it, I mean it was just all over the place,” he said.
Busch was significantly stronger than Edwards on restarts, so much faster that on multiple occasions, he was able to use his No. 18 Toyota to literally push Edwards’ No. 99 Ford down the front straightaway.
Busch said despite his prowess on the restarts and the times he was leading the race, Edwards was just too fast for the rest of the field to challenge him.
“I knew the 99 [Edwards] was just holding back and waiting and not showing everything he had. He probably could have led 334 of however many laps there were today,” Busch said.
Carl Edwards led 123 of 339 laps to take the checkered flag in Sunday's Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Edwards said the cars are difficult to drive, but that’s the point of racing.
“The fact is that these are the 43 best drivers in the world. The cars have 900 horsepower and go 200 miles an hour, and the track is slippery and the tires are slippery, and that’s a spectacle - and that’s what it’s supposed to be,” Edwards said. “It’s not supposed to be easy for everyone; it’s not supposed to be driving down the Interstate.”
The TMS debut of NASCAR’s new car, formerly called the Car of Tomorrow, did not produce the type of nail biting finish fans have come to expect at the Fort Worth track, but for the drivers, the race was anything but boring.
“I didn’t see a lot of side-by-side racing, [but] my hands were full man, I was driving my ass off,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who followed his win at TMS last fall with a second place finish Sunday, said the new car needs more front downforce. That is to say the front of the cars need to react to the aerodynamics differently to produce better handling and enable the drivers to catch the cars in front of them and create more exciting racing.
“Once you get up to speed, the cars are so dependent on the aerodynamics that the guy in front has a major, major advantage, more than we’ve ever had,” he said.
Johnson’s teammate, Jeff Gordon, continued his streak of no wins at TMS. It is only one of two tracks the four time champion hasn’t won at in his career, and after spinning out and hitting the wall on lap 110, used the rest of the race as a test session, trying different setup combinations to learn more about the new car.
“There are some crazy setups in going on in these cars right now and I guess when you don’t hit it right, it’s not much fun,” Gordon said. “I can’t remember the last time we struggled this bad...it’s just a bad day gone worse for our team.”
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will go to Phoenix International Raceway next Saturday for a night race, but North Texas race fans will have to wait until June for the next race at TMS, when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the newly unified Indy Racing League open wheel series hit the track.