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Texas Checkered and Black Flags

AAA Texas 500 Recap and Results

Pete Pistone distributes this week’s checkered and black flags following the weekend of racing at Texas Motor Speedway.

Checkered Flags

Kevin Harvick
May as well give him the checkered flag because he was going to take it anyway. Harvick was a man on a mission Sunday in Texas leading 177 laps and when the race went into overtime, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver was not going to be denied with his power move around Ryan Blaney for the lead and win No. 8 of the season.

Ryan Blaney
Rocketed to the pole at over 200 mph – maybe the last time we see that number for some time given the new rules for next year that will reduce horsepower – and went on to finish second. Blaney has been very strong down the stretch of the 2018 season.

Kyle Larson
It is still a mystery how Larson remains winless in 2018 but the Chip Ganassi Racing driver turned in a solid performance in Texas starting 23rd and coming home with a top-five finish.

Xfinity Series Race
Saturday’s middle race of the tripleheader weekend at Texas was the best of the bunch. Craziness ensured nearly from the start with championship contender Christopher Bell spinning out and it came to a crescendo with a last lap battle between Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick for the win. Custer prevailed to head to Miami in dramatic fashion. Race Story and Results

Todd Gilliland
Many veteran drivers can take a page out of the way Gilliland handled himself after his disappointing finish in Friday night’s Truck Series race. He ran out of fuel on the last lap opening the door for Justin Haley to speed by and take the win. But Gilliland didn’t run from the media and faced the music afterward showing incredible poise and maturity for such a young driver. Race Story and Results

Black Flags

NASCAR Mistake
Sending Jimmie Johnson to the rear of the field for not getting through inspection twice and not three times was an egregious error. It can’t happen at the top level of the sport and NASCAR admitted the mistake. Hopefully it will be a learning moment and addressed so that it doesn’t happen in the future. See Also: NASCAR Apologizes to Johnson

But the mistake just raised more concern over the ongoing struggle of how the inspection process continues to be a focal point of race weekends. Whether there are too many rules and tolerances or the fact teams need to stop monkeying around with the rulebook and simple present cars within the boundaries of the guidelines isn’t really the point. Something needs to be done to not usurp the energy out of a race weekend by spending so much time spotlighting inspection.

Aric Almirola
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver’s assertion Joey Logano should have not raced him hard down the stretch because he was already locked into the Championship 4 was ludicrous. The last thing any fans wants to hear from any drivers is one of their competitors was racing “too hard.” The circumstances surrounding Logano’s spot in Miami have nothing to do with competing for every position Sunday in Texas. See Also: Almirola Unhappy with Logano

Teammates Wrecking
Sunday it was Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and William Byron getting together. In Saturday’s Xfinity Series race Joe Gibbs Racing (Brandon Jones-Ryan Preece), Richard Childress Racing (Shane Lee –Daniel Hemric) and Roush Fenway Racing (Ty Majeski-Ryan Reed) all had to endure watching their own drivers run into one another.

Texas Layout
Texas Motor Speedway had to be repaved. Rather than simply putting a coat of asphalt down, track officials decided to try and do something different and also reconfigure the first and second turns hoping to create a more unique racing surface. However so far the results have been less than promising in terms of compelling racing. Like any track it will take time for the asphalt to cure and provide drivers more opportunities for grooves and lanes. But the fans and even some drivers are getting restless.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.