Since 1969, NASCAR has made frequent stops to the Lone Star State. Whether it was Houston's half-mile Meyer Speedway, College Station's mammoth Texas World Speedway or the Metroplex's sleek Texas Motor Speedway, the Union's 28th state has been a racing hotbed.
The nation's second-largest state has also had its share of memorable moments:
10. NASCAR's top series made its first trip to Texas on Dec. 7, 1969. The site was Texas World Speedway in College Station, just nine miles from the A&M campus. Bobby Isaac scored his first superspeedway win in the '69 season finale. But the driver who dominated the race was not Isaac, but rather Buddy Baker. He led a race-high 150 laps in his Dodge Daytona. With the race under caution with 23 laps to go, Baker flicked a "V" sign to his pit crew. While his concentration was taking a nap, he smacked the rear of James Hylton's car. The radiator was ruptured, and his day ended one lap later. Crew chief and car owner Cotton Owens tossed his pit board in disgust. Needless to say, Dodge officials were not pleased.
9. Jump ahead three years to Nov. 12, 1972. Richard Petty won the first championship of NASCAR's modern era at Texas World Speedway. He finished third in the Texas 500 as Baker took the checkered flag. This was Petty's fourth title overall, setting a NASCAR record. "The King" would capture three more championships, giving him seven for his career -- a record that still stands.
8. On June 23, 1971, Alabama Gang member Bobby Allison won the only NASCAR Cup Series race held at Houston's Meyer Speedway, the 1971 Space City 300. Allison dominated the 14-car field, leading 253 of the race's 300 laps. The win marked Allison fifth straight in Cup Series competition, which is tied for the second-longest win streak in series history.
7. NASCAR held its final race at Texas World Speedway in 1981. Between that day and our next moment, NASCAR did not have a presence in the Lone Star State. On Nov. 28, 1994, Speedway Motorsports chairman Bruton Smith announced plans for a new, multimillion-dollar speedway to be built in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The result was the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.
6. Jeff Burton won the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in front of a sellout crowd in excess of 200,000 fans on April 6, 1997. The win marked the first for Burton in the NASCAR Cup Series. Of course, everyone remembers his wife, Kim, showing her emotions on the pit box as the laps wound down. "It wasn't because I knew we were going to win; it was because I knew we were going to lose," Kim said. Jeff didn't lose that day, and he's added 20 more wins to his résumé, with Kim at his side for all of them.
5. Two years after Burton's breakthrough win, a native son of Texas drove his car into Victory Lane. Corpus Christi's Terry Labonte had won races in his Cup Series career. He's also a two-time series champion. On March 28, 1999, Labonte would achieve what he called "the biggest race I've ever won." He took the lead from eventual series champ Dale Jarrett with 12 laps to go and won the Primestar 500. The win turned out to be the second-to-last win of his career. Labonte's younger brother Bobby would finish third that day.
4. The two most famous families in racing would share the spotlight on April 2, 2000. Dale Earnhardt Jr., son of the legendary Intimidator, scored his first career Cup Series win in only his 12th start. Little E would leave the 43-car field in his wake, cruising to a five-second victory. After the race, his proud papa came over to his son's window for some words. "He told me he loved me and how happy he was," Junior said. It was also a proud day for the Petty family. Adam Petty, the first fourth-generation driver in NASCAR history, made his only Cup start. Hard to believe that just 40 days later, Petty was gone.
3. On June 6, 2003, NASCAR history was made in the Camping World Truck Series. The Aaron's Dream Team, the first all-female pit crew to compete in a NASCAR event, makes its debut at the O'Reilly 400k. Shawna Robinson, the only woman to compete in all three of NASCAR's national touring series, finished 18th out of 36 trucks with her all-female crew.
2. On April 4, 2004, Elliott Sadler held off Kasey Kahne in the Samsung/RadioShack 500 by 0.028 of a second, making it the closest finish in the history of Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It was a heartbreaking defeat for Kahne, who led a race-high 148 laps. He was still searching for his first Cup Series win. Earlier in the year at Rockingham, Kahne finished second to Matt Kenseth by just .01 of a second. Kahne would get his first win and eventually conquer Texas: He won from the pole there in April 2006.
1. Entering the 2009 spring race at Texas, Jeff Gordon had been mired in a career-long 47-race winless streak. He was also winless at Texas Motor Speedway -- 0-for-16 to be exact. That changed on April 5. Gordon led a race-high 105 laps, including the final 28, to score his 82nd career victory. There are 22 tracks on the current Sprint Cup schedule, and Gordon has wins at 21 of them. (He remains winless at Homestead-Miami.)
Things to watch for this weekend:
• Kyle Busch will attempt to become the third driver in Nationwide Series history to win five straight races at a single track. He'll look to join Jack Ingram (five straight at South Boston from July 1985 to July 1986) and Dale Earnhardt (five straight at Daytona from February 1990 to February 1994).
• Carl Edwards seeks to become the most successful Cup Series driver in the state of Texas. He's won three times at Texas Motor Speedway, matching Richard Petty's three wins at Texas World Speedway.