The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cowboys-up to Texas Motor Speedway for the 34th race of the 2012 season, The AAA Texas 500. Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and spoke with NASCAR contacts to predict how the field should finish on Sunday.
When: Sunday, November 4, 2012; 3:16 p.m./et.
Weather: Scattered showers with a high around 71; wind out of the NWN at 9 mph. There is a 30% chance of precipitation.
The Track: Texas MotorSpeedway
Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.5 quad-oval. It has intermediate 24 degree banking on the turns. Roush-Fenway cars dominate 1.5 mile tracks and they will be tough to beat on Sunday.
Key to Race: ARACE FOR THE BIG BOYS
Anytime the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits a 1.5 mile track Roush-Fenway Racing is expected to be fast. The lack of success the Roush Boys have on short-tracks is the exact opposite of the continued success they show on the 1.5 mile tracks. The surface atTexashas great grip and thus cars can run wide-open the entire way around. The multi-car teams like Roush-Fenway and Hendrick Motorsports have a huge advantage in the funding of their engine programs. If a Roush-Fenway car doesn't find victory lane a Hendrick car likely will.
46 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. If the first practice is run, but qualifying is unable to take place, the starting lineup will be based on speeds from the car's fastest lap from the first practice, with top-35 cars in owner points no longer segregated from the non-top 35 cars. Previously, the top 35 cars lined up in front of all other eligible car owners.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson led 156 laps at Texas this spring and in 15 career starts at the track he has 13 top 10 finishes. He is so close he can smell another championship, combine that with his past success at TMS and he is a great pick on Sunday.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle won the spring race at Texas and he has been great in the past seven races at the track. He is worth using in all leagues this weekend.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth brought one of the fastest cars to Texas the past three races. He won last year’s spring race, led 87 laps during the fall and finished fifth this spring. He is one of our top picks to return to victory lane Sunday.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon dominated Texas by leading the most laps during the 2010 and 2011 April races. He again will be fast in the Lone Star State.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Smoke dominated the fall race at Texas last year. He is a solid pick this weekend.
6 to 10
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has been great in 10 of the last 14 races in the Lone Star State. He won’t struggle to crack the top 10.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin won both races at Texas in 2010 and has finished in the top 10 in all but six of his career starts at Texas. We like his chances this weekend.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne has finished inside the top seven the past two races. He is worth rolling the dice on this weekend.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards proved his love for 1.5 mile ovals by sweeping both races at Texas in 2008. He should notch another top 10 this weekend.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Rowdy has finished inside the top six in four of the last 10 races at Texas. He is a fine pick.
11 to 20
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior has led laps in seven of the last 11 races at Texas, but we doubt he will get his second win at the track this weekend. A top 15 finish is expected.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has had one solid race and five average races at Texas. He should be much better this weekend’s visit to the track.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Texas isn't one of Bowyer's favorite tracks to race at, but he has found some recent success at the track. He should finish just outside the top 10.
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burton has finished in the top nine in six of the past 12 races at Texas Motor Speedway. He is a solid pick.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. has finished in the top 15 in 10 of his last 14 starts at Texas. Use the No. 56 driver in all leagues.
No. 55 Mark Martin: Martin has a win and nine top six finishes atTMS in his career. He will cruise around in the top 20 and could sneak into the top 15 by the time the race is over.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: Jamie Mac has six top 10 finishes in 16 career starts at TMS. This is a good weekend to get him active on your roster.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard was good at Texas the past five races. He is a fine option.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola has driven fantastic lately. Texas isn’t one of his better tracks, but we still recommend him.
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman has averaged just a 19th place finish the past 14 races at Texas. He is just an okay pick.
21 to 30
No. 51 A.J. Allmendinger: Allmendinger has cracked the top 20 the past five races at Texas. He is a fine buy-low pick.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has averaged a top 20 finish at TMS during his career. He is a decent third driver this weekend.
No. 20 Joey Logano: "Sliced Bread” has been terrible at Texas during his career. Like my doctor says we also recommend passing on the bread.
No. 22 Sam Hornish Jr.: Hornish has averaged just a 28th place finish at Texas in his career. There are better options this weekend.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has been hit-or-miss atTMSduring his career. We expect he will miss the top 20 this weekend.
No. 78 Kurt Busch: Busch has 11 top 10 finishes in 19 career starts at Texas during his career, but we still recommend avoiding him. He is too unpredictable in his new ride.
No. 34 David Ragan: Ragan has been fast at Texas in his career. He could crack the top 25 this weekend with a little luck.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte: Texas native, Labonte looks forward to this race at all season. He could surprise some people with where he finishes on Sunday.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears drove decent at Texas last year. There are worse choices.
No. 10 Danica Patrick: Don’t even think about using her.
No. 21 Trevor Bayne
No. 32 Ken Schrader
No. 33 Stephen Leicht
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 83 Landon Cassill
No. 91 Reed Sorenson
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 95 Scott Speed
No. 37 J.J. Yeley
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 79 Kelly Bires
No. 19 Mike Bliss
No. 26 Josh Wise
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Greg Biffle
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Jeff Gordon
1. Aric Almirola
2. A.J. Allmendinger
Bust of the Week: