Who among the red-blooded chaps residing along the Texas frontier don’t like both a nap and a casual drive on lazy Sunday afternoons?It’s a rare find.Texas Motor Speedway officials, along with the help of a skilled mechanical mind brought in from the outside, has designed a device — for display purposes only — that does both.As spectators file in Gate 4 Friday they’ll find a recliner fit for any prince that has been transformed into a motor vehicle.We ain’t lyin’. You got to see this. It looks like a very comfy ride.A recliner with a motor on it. It moves up to 20-30 mph, said Casey Cummins, a Glen Rose native turned University of North Texas student who is a part-time quasi-curator of this mobile TMS “museum.”Also on display is a remodeled bumper car, which travels at a much slower pace.Cummins has played navigator in a transformed bathtub, which is almost up to freeway speed. It travels up to 50 mph.Sauter on the poleJohnny Sauter, who won both trucks races at TMS last season, captured the pole during qualifying Thursday for Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series WinStar 400.Sauter, driver of the No. 98, turned a lap in 29 seconds at 180 mph.He’ll start in the front with Ty Dillon.“I love coming here,” said Sauter, who swept the opening races of this season, winning at Daytona and Martinsville. “This has been a great racetrack for us.”Conway still shakenOne of last week’s Detroit winners, Mike Conway, is not racing this weekend in Fort Worth. He said last year after a difficult test at Fontana that he would not race ovals anymore, shaken by the memory of his accident at Indianapolis in 2010 and the death of Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas in 2011.Last year’s Texas winner, Justin Wilson, does not blame him. The fellow Englishmen are both road- and street-trained European drivers who had to learn to navigate the high-speed ovals like Texas Motor Speedway.“I get what Mike did,” Wilson said. “I saw a couple of comments, people were calling him a coward — whatever. Well, kind of the opposite. He’s pretty brave to do what he did, have that confidence in himself to say, ‘No, this is just not for me.’ That’s something I totally respect. I know he’s not afraid of driving a race car at the limit because he showed that again last weekend.”Some IndyCar Series drivers grumbled about Texas Motor Speedway and other ovals last spring and how they lead to “pack” racing, considered dangerous because the open-wheel cars travel too closely together for too long at high speeds. But changes to the “downforce” of the cars for the Fort Worth race last year produced what the drivers said was a safer and more enjoyable race.Japanese driver Takuma Sato acknowledged fear is sometimes part of the event.“Usually when you feel fear, it’s that time when you cannot see the future,” he said. “Now, it sounds strange, but what I’m trying to say is that people feel fear because they don’t know what’s going on. If you know the future, you’re not scared because you can prepare. If you have the car under control, and you are controlling the car really well, you don’t feel fear even if you’re sliding at over 200 mph because you know you can control it or catch it.”Mann inPippa Mann is driving Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 18 car, vacated by Mike Conway, who has elected not to race ovals.“It’s exciting to be in the No. 18 car that finished 15th in the Indianapolis 500 and first and third this past weekend in Detroit,” the 29-year-old Londoner said.It will be her first start at TMS.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @calexmendez