NASCAR heads out west this week for the second race in the Round of 8 at Texas Motor Speedway. The track provides its own challenges unique to no other 1.5-mile track.
“The more comfortable I am, the faster we go,” Tony Stewart, who will be making his last start here Sunday said. “This track – the grooves have moved around, especially in the last couple of years. We’ve seen the track get wider and it’s made it to where you can move around on the racetrack and where you can run the top side or the bottom side. It’s nice from a driver’s perspective to be able to have that flexibility behind the steering wheel, knowing that if your car’s not driving exactly the way you want it to, you can move around the racetrack and find a spot the car likes better.”
Here are my favorites for Sunday’s 34th race of the year for your betting or fantasy racing leagues. Driver Ratings are compiled from 2005-2016 races (23 total) among active drivers at Texas . The Driver Rating is a number based on a formula developed by NASCAR which combines “loop data” elements such as average running position, average speed under green, number of fastest laps, and other stats. There is a maximum of 150 points that a driver can earn for each race. The odds are current as of Wednesday.
1. Jimmie Johnson (4-1). Johnson was the favorite last week at Martinsville, and he delivered. Johnson won last week and is in a very good position to do so again this week. Johnson has won three of the last four races, is the defending winner of this race and was fourth here in the spring. He has the highest driver rating in the field,107.8, leads all active drivers with wins (6) and would surprise no one by adding another Sunday.
2. Matt Kenseth (8-1). Kenseth will be the first to tell you that Texas isn’t among his favorite tracks. Yet, he has two wins here, the second highest driver rating in the field, 104.9, and led 20 laps here in the spring. With the way the entire Joe Gibbs Racing stable has been running, Kenseth could add a third win Sunday.
3. Kyle Busch (6-1). Speaking of Joe Gibbs Racing, JGR driver Kyle Busch won this race in the spring. That was his second win at Texas. He has the third highest driver rating in the field 102.9, and was fourth in this race last year.
4. Brad Keselowski (12-1). Keselowski is somewhat of a long shot, but he was second at Martinsville, and was second in this race last year. He is out of the Chase, and has a pretty low driver rating, 86.4, but wants nothing more than to steal the spotlight from those in the Chase. With the way he’s been running lately Keselowski could score his first career Texas win Sunday.
5. Carl Edwards (12-1). Edwards has three wins here, the last coming in 2008. That’s been awhile, but he still maintains the fourth best driver rating in the field, 97.6, and is a JGR driver. Edwards could easily score a win Sunday and put himself right back in Chase contention.
OTHERS: Kevin Harvick (4-1). Harvick is backed up against the wall and he knows it. He needs a win to advance, he has the ninth best driver rating,89.1, and has never won at Texas. That could change Sunday. Martin Truex Jr. (4-1) has also never won at Texas and was knocked out the Chase at Talladega. However, he led a race high 141 laps here in the spring, had the 7th best driver rating in the field, 91.7 and could be a non-Chase driver that could visit victory lane Sunday.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup AAA Texas 500 will be run on Sunday, November 6. Live coverage will be on NBC starting at 1:30 p.m. ET with the green flag coming just after 2:00 p.m. ET.