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CONCORD, N.C. – As the NASCAR Cup Series heads south this week for a showdown in Texas, drivers are making preparations to race on an unfamiliar track.

Texas Motor Speedway has repaved and reconfigured its surface. The banking in the first two turns have been reduced to 20 degrees and the groove in that section of the track has been widened to 80 feet. It marks the first time the venue has been repaved since 2001.

And the Hendrick Motorsports teammates aren’t exactly sure what to expect.

“They reconfigured Turns 1 and 2, so it will be fun to have something a little bit new to try out,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “As a driver, you’re always excited by what might be better, so I’m looking forward to getting on the track and getting some laps.”

But the track won’t be completely different to the drivers. There have been no changes to Turns 3 and 4. Still, there is some mystery going into the race weekend.

“I don’t think anybody’s had an opportunity to really test there,” Earnhardt explained. “So all of us will be learning that racetrack together.”

Jimmie Johnson leads the series at Texas Motor Speedway with six victories – including five in the last nine races – 14 top-fives and 20 top-10s. He thinks racing with the changes will bring a different type of energy to the event.

“I think this brings some fun and excitement to that track,” Johnson said. “Obviously, with our success there I hate to see it repaved and hate to see all the bumps gone and all that went with it, it worked so well for us, but I’m excited to get there and see what it kind of provides to us.”

The first practice of the weekend is scheduled for today at 12 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.