Jimmie Johnson got his first win of the season, going from the back of the field to Victory Lane on Sunday at a Texas track that has changed since his first six wins there.
The newly repaved, reconfigured 1.5-mile track, where the banking was reduced and the track widened in Turns 1 and 2 received overwhelming response from the drivers.
This was the first Cup race in Texas since the 1½-mile facility was completely repaved and changes made to Turns 1 and 2 earlier this year. It was Johnson’s seventh victory at Texas, six in the last 10 races there.
“I think the racing was better than it could have been,” said Kevin Harvick, who started from the pole and finished fourth in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. “The track did a great job getting the racetrack ready. It could have been like it was all day Friday, but we were able to get that second groove coming in.”
Martin Truex Jr., who finished eighth in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, seemed a bit less impressed.
“The track was really, really difficult and the tires were definitely a challenge,” Truex said. “It seemed like every time we put a set on, the car was a little different.”
But Chase Elliott, who finished ninth in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy, said he had expected far more trouble than he and the rest of the drivers encountered.
“It actually became pretty racy as the day went on,” Elliott said. “I was surprised. Hopefully, that’s a good sign.”
Overall, the track impresses NASCAR drivers. Johnson was elated with the track’s new feel and look after notching his record seventh career win at the facility. And he said it’s only going to get better over time.