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Rain-delayed Texas NASCAR Race draws solid crowd
The work week in the state of Texas got off to a sluggish start Monday as NASCAR fans showed their passion in support of the rain-delayed Samsung Mobile 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Despite being run on a Monday – which traditionally leads to spotty and disappointing race crowds – the TMS Nation came out in full-force as media and NASCAR estimated the crowd at 92,200 for the Samsung Mobile 500. Although Texas Motor Speedway annually attracts a crowd in excess of 170,000 for this April event, the attendance for Monday’s race was tremendous considering it being run on a weekday and starting at 11 a.m. CT. How impressive? The Monday crowd would have been a sellout or near sellout in terms of seating capacity at nine speedways (Auto Club Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Pocono Raceway) that play host to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. The total also would have been approximately 10,200 more than capacity at the new, and venerable, Cowboys Stadium.

“I have to thank the whole (number) 11 team, everyone at FedEx -- all the employees, Sprint and the fans,” Samsung Mobile 500 race winner Denny Hamlin said after climbing out of his car in Victory Lane. “I’ve never seen so many fans on a Monday race like this. I can’t thank them enough. It’s just a great day for us.”

Two days of persistent rain left Texas Motor Speedway playing host to only the second Monday doubleheader in NASCAR history, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung Mobile 500 and Nationwide Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 were run on the same day. The only other time this racing twinbill occurred was Feb. 25, 2008, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Carl Edwards won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and Tony Stewart won the Nationwide Series event.

The previous time that Texas Motor Speedway was forced to run a NASCAR race on a Monday due to weather was in 2002. The Samsung/RadioShack 500 was scheduled to run on Sunday, April 7, but heavy rains forced a postponement until the next day. Matt Kenseth won by .888 of a second over Jeff Gordon.

Texas Motor Speedway nearly found itself staring at a doubleheader that weekend, barely getting in the O’Reilly 300 Nationwide Series race Saturday, April 6. Rain shortened the length of the race from 200 laps to 116 before it was called with the victory going to Jeff Purvis.

Denny Hamlin’s 0.152 of a second margin-of-victory over runner-up Jimmie Johnson in the Samsung Mobile 500 was the second-closest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish in the 14-year history of Texas Motor Speedway. The finish trails only the 0.028 margin when Elliott Sadler edged Kasey Kahne in the 2004 Samsung/RadioShack 500.

The Samsung Mobile 500 also tied the track record for most lead changes in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with 29. Twelve drivers exchanged the lead 29 times, equaling the mark set in the 2000 DIRECTV 500 won by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Kyle Busch won his fifth consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway with Monday’s victory in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. Busch’s win tied the mark for most consecutive NNS wins at a single track held by Dale Earnhardt and Jack Ingram. Earnhardt achieved the feat at Daytona while Ingram accomplished his at South Boston.
During his five-race winning streak at Texas Motor Speedway, Busch has led an amazing 810 of a possible 1,000 laps (81%). He led 153 laps Monday, and has led 126 or more in each of those five starts.

Kyle Busch became the 12th consecutive driver whose first or last name begins with a “K” to win a Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The run began in 2004 with Matt Kenseth. Kasey Kahne (once), Kevin Harvick (three times), Kurt Busch (once), Kyle Busch (five times) and Kenseth again have since been victorious. 

During the Samsung Mobile 500 weekend, Texas Motor Speedway Operations Department carpenter/fabricator John Ridenour became the first recipient of the ServiceMaster Clean ‘Extra Mile’ Award.

Ridenour, or ‘Big John’ as he is affectionately known as by coworkers and friends, was the third TMS Operations employee hired at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997. Prior to arriving at TMS, he spent 18 years in stadium operations for the Dallas Cowboys. During race weekends, Ridenour is stationed in his service vehicle in Turn 3 standing by to make any repairs to the track surface, SAFER Barrier or catch fence. 

The ‘Extra Mile Award’ winner is selected by track management personnel and recognizes the efforts of track service personnel whose contributions often go unnoticed, but are vital to the success of an event. The recipient can be any member of the track staff that works in a service-oriented position. 

Following Monday’s Samsung Mobile 500, the Fort Worth area will get a little bit greener as 160 adult trees will be planted in conjunction with NASCAR’s “Green Flag Tree Planting Program.”

The program is based on the number of times the green flag is waved during a Sprint Cup event, with 20 trees being donated for each wave. The Samsung Mobile 500 featured eight such occurrences (race start and seven more following caution periods), resulting in the donation of 160 trees to REAL School Gardens. 

REAL School Gardens, of Fort Worth, will use the donation in its initiative to work with urban schools and communities in the design, installation and sustainability of school gardens that are used for hands-on learning and to cultivate a deeper connection to nature.

The “Green Flag Tree Planting Program” is in its second year and is designed to neutralize 100 percent of carbon emissions produced by race cars competing in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events in the markets the series competes in across the country. 

Jeff Gordon led a race-high 124 laps in the Samsung Mobile 500 to jump from fourth to the all-time leader for laps led at Texas Motor Speedway in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. Gordon moved past Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart, respectively, pushing his career laps-led total to 581. Stewart, who led 74 laps in the Samsung Mobile 500, moved from third to second with 542. … Samsung Mobile 500 winner Denny Hamlin became the 16th different winner in 19 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at TMS. The only multiple winners are Carl Edwards (3) and Jeff Burton (2). Hamlin came from the second-furthest starting position in speedway history to capture a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Hamlin started 29th, two positions shy of equaling the record (31st) held by Matt Kenseth in the 2002 Samsung/RadioShack 500. … The Samsung Mobile 500 was the 400th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start for two-time series champion Tony Stewart, who won the pole but finished 31st. … The O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 tied the track record for fewest cautions (four) in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition. … Matt Kenseth, who entered the Samsung Mobile 500 weekend with the best career finishing average for Sprint Cup Series drivers at TMS (9.26), had his run of six consecutive top-10 finishes come to an end when he finished 20th. He had not finished 20th or worse at Texas Motor Speedway since taking 20th in 2001. … Up next at Texas Motor Speedway will be the IZOD IndyCar Series/NASCAR Camping World Truck Series doubleheader June 3-5. The race week will feature the WinStar World Casino 400 on Friday, June 4, and the Firestone 550k on Saturday, June 5, both of which are evening events.
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