Texas Weekend Preview: Elliott poised for first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Texas

(Getty Images)

After making the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as a rookie in 2016, talented 21-year-old Chase Elliott has raised his performance in his sophomore season.

He’s produced three top-five finishes in six starts this year and ranks second in the series standings, a mere four points behind fellow young star Kyle Larson.

All Elliott needs to truly “arrive” is his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win. He’ll get the chance to accomplish the feat in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on FOX) – the site of his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to Texas – what a fun place,” Elliott said. “I think Texas will always be special to me after getting my first Xfinity Series win there.”

The No. 24 Chevrolet driver finished fifth (spring) and fourth (fall) in his two Texas starts last season. On Sunday, he’ll have to contend with defending winner Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson, who boasts a track-record six victories.

“Texas is a place I enjoy going to and after the good runs we had there last season, I’m definitely looking forward to returning,” Elliott said.

Byron sets sights on first win

William Byron has always been a quick study. He won four races as a rookie on his way to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship in 2015. Last year, he set the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie record with seven victories. The 19-year-old Charlotte native was also a straight-A student in high school and is finishing up his sophomore year at Liberty University.

William Byron (Getty Images)

Byron’s rookie season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series has been no different. He sits second in the series standings – 17 points behind Elliott Sadler – on the strength of two top-five and four top-10 finishes in five starts.

He’ll attempt to get his first win in Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on FOX) – a track where he won in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last year.

“I have a good history at Texas Motor Speedway with winning the Truck race in June last year,” Byron said. “Hopefully I can carry some of that confidence into this weekend’s race. We have had some good runs lately, a few top fives that we can continue to build on this weekend.”

Texas Race Weekend Guide
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Race: O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
Place: Texas Motor Speedway
Date and Time: Sunday, April 9 at 1:30 p.m. ET
Tune-in: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 501 miles (334 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 85), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 170), Final Stage (Ends on lap 334)
What To Watch For: Brad Keselowski goes for his second consecutive win and third victory of the season at Texas. … Jimmie Johnson tries to add to his track-record six wins. … Erik Jones – a winner at Texas in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series – searches for his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series checkered flag. … Kyle Busch attempts to defend his spring Lone Star State victory.

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Race: My Bariatric Solutions 300
Place: Texas Motor Speedway
Date and Time: Saturday, April 8 at 1:30 p.m. ET
Tune-in: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)
What To Watch For: Elliott Sadler tries to increase his 17-point standings lead over teammate William Byron. … Darrell Wallace Jr., who’s placed sixth in his last four starts, looks for his fifth straight top-10 finish. … There have been five different winners in the first five races.

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