Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. said he knew Danica Patrick hit the wall hard on Sunday at Phoenix, but that he couldn’t stop to worry about his girlfriend.“I didn’t once ask how she was doing,” Stenhouse said Monday during Media Day at Texas Motor Speedway, where he and other drivers made an appearance to promote the track’s season schedule and the upcoming April 13 Sprint Cup race.“I was focused on my race car. I was focused under that caution on talking to my crew chief, talking about making our race car better,” he said. “I felt like they would have told me if she had been hurt.”Patrick was fine, but the hit in the wall was just the capper on a bad week that left her to qualify on owner points and then come out with a 39th-place finish.“I’ve taken those big hits in race cars before,” Stenhouse said. “She and I have talked about it. I said, you can flip down the race track, and I still feel like you’ll be OK. You know, really, the only thing that really concerns us is probably fires in the race car.”Truck urgencyJames Buescher said one of the reasons he likes the Camping World Truck series is the urgency of the races.“We have less time to get it done,” the defending series champion said. “There’s the same amount, or more, action packed into a tighter time frame because they’re shorter. That creates a lot of excitement.”The season is also shorter — 22 races compared with 36 in Sprint Cup and 33 in Nationwide — and Buescher said the competition is becoming deeper.“The competition level is up there, and I think it’s going to be stronger this year,” he said. “There’s more talent in the garage and more teams that are strong teams.”Tougher than expectedAction sports star Travis Pastrana said NASCAR driving is a lot tougher than he thought it would be.“I always looked at a NASCAR track and said, ‘OK, it’s two turns,’ and yet I’ve found it to be more challenging and difficult to get fast on those turns because you can’t be just ‘good,’” he said. “You have to be perfect. It’s the best in the world with the most knowledge in the world, and all of a sudden you’re fighting for tenths of a second.”Pastrana is in his first full season in the Nationwide series. He finished 10th at Daytona two weeks ago and 28th at Phoenix last week.“In motocross, I won’t even walk the track, and by the end of lap one, I’d know 25 corners, the whoops, the lines — I’ve got it memorized because that’s what I do. That’s what I’m used to,” he said. “And in rally car, you never hit the same corner twice, so you better be spot on the first time.“Now, in NASCAR you have all this practice, these hours and hours of practice. ... It’s no longer, I gave up two seconds in that corner, but I made up three seconds in that one. You might lose two seconds, but you’re not going to make it up.”Cool nightIndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe likes racing in Texas.When the sun goes down.“One of the best parts of racing here at night is that it’s not 112 degrees,” he said with a laugh. The Firestone 550 on June 8 is a prime-time race and will be televised nationally by ABC.Hinchcliffe had been asked about the IndyCar race in Houston in October, and he was comparing the two events.“Racing in Texas, in the middle of the day, that’s going to be a very difficult race for us,” he said.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez