Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Mid-Pack: Texas AAA 500

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Track history: NASCAR speedway owner Bruton Smith announced plans to build a multi-million dollar superspeedway in the Fort Worth/Dallas market late in 1994. Construction started in August 1995 on the 1.5-mile dual-banked Texas Motor Speedway. Dual-banked turns angled at 8 and 24 degrees allow NASCAR and Indy-style racing.
On the first lap of the inaugural Cup race in 1997, as the field entered Turn One, 13 of the 43 car starting field were involved in a massive wreck. Darrell Waltrip's car was the only one to be retired after the accident. TMS did some reconstruction work in 1998, eliminating the 8-degree dual-banking, resurfaced the track, all to the tune of $4 million. They also added 4,800 seats in 1998.
In 1999, TMS spent $2.5 million on the 4/10-mile clay-surfaced dirt track to host the World of Outlaws sprint cars. 10,000 more seats were added in 1999, bringing the total capacity to 154,861. The sold-out 1999 PRIMESTAR 500 was the largest attended sporting event in Texas history. In 2000, TMS had to fix some track flaws, a dip, caused by erosion, under Turn Four and other problem areas in Turns One and Two.
Late in 2001, TMS was in the resurfacing mode again. This time, the entire 1.5-mile speedway was repaved with a granite-based asphalt compound over a concrete base. The track had been extremely fast since it opened and after that resurfacing, the straightaway speeds approached 200 mph.

April 6, 1997: The 1997 Interstate Batteries 500 was the inaugural Cup race at TMS. Qualifying was rained-out, so the current point leader at the time, Dale Jarrett, lined up in front of the field with his No. 88 Quality Care Ford. Jarrett led 42 of the 334 lap event and finished second.  Jeff Burton drove the No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford from fifth in the lineup, led 60 laps, and scored the victory. With an average race speed of 125.111 mph, due to several wrecks, it was the slowest Fort Worth Cup race on record.

November 6, 2011: Tony Stewart won the AAA Texas 500 from a fifth place start. It was the No. 14 Chevrolet driver’s fourth victory of 2011 putting him only three points behind Chase leader Carl Edwards. It was Stewart’s second victory in 20 starts at Fort Worth. Drivers leading 10 or more laps: No. 99 Carl Edwards 14 laps, finished second;  Pole-sitter No. 16 Greg Biffle 23 laps, finished fifth; No. 31 Jeff Burton 24 laps, finished 27th; No. 17 Matt Kenseth 87 laps, finished fourth and winner Stewart led the most (173 laps).

April 14, 2012: Greg Biffle won the Samsung Mobile 500 from a fourth place start. It was the No. 16 Ford driver’s first victory of 2012, breaking his 49-race winless streak. It was Biffle’s second victory at Texas Motor Speedway. Drivers leading 10 or more laps: No. 17 Matt Kenseth 15 laps, finished fifth; pole-sitter No. 56 Martin Truex Jr. 69 laps, finished sixth; winner Biffle 90 laps and No. 48 Jimmie Johnson led the most laps (156 of 334) and finished second.

Track Quick Facts (courtesy NASCAR Media):
Last five winners:
Denny Hamlin 4/19/10, Denny Hamlin 11/07/10, Matt Kenseth 4/9/11, Tony Stewart 11/06/11 and Greg Biffle 4/14/12.
First Cup start here (Active drivers): Brad Keselowski 11/2/08, Trevor Bayne 11/7/10 and David Starr 4/9/11.
First Cup pole: Martin Truex Jr. 11/4/07 and David Ragan 4/9/11.
First Cup win: Jeff Burton 4/6/97 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4/2/00.

Fantasy games won’t allow you to pick all track favorites so Mid-Pack Attack is here to help. A mid-packer may not win the race but has as good a shot at a top 20 finish as track favorites Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.  There were 46 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s Cup race. Here are our picks for Sunday’s Texas AAA 500 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mid-Pack picks
Mark Martin’s 13.3 average finish is the best of drivers who have started all 23 Fort Worth Cup races. It is also sixth best of all drivers entered this weekend (the top five are all in the Chase). He scored top 10’s in five of his last seven starts here, including a third in the April 2012 race. Besides his one Cup victory (1998), Martin picked up three victories in his nine Nationwide Series races at TMS. He also earned the fourth-most driver points in the last six Cup races at the Texas 1.5 mile track. Give the No. 55 Toyota some serious consideration this week.

Marcos Ambrose said this week: “Texas is one of my favorite tracks. I had success earlier in the spring until we ran into fuel mileage issues at the end.” He was running in the top-10 most of race but ran out of gas on the last lap (finished 20th). His previous five races here resulted in 15th, 17th, 12th, 6th and 11th place finishes. NASCAR Statistics ranks him No. 1 in Quality Passes. Ambrose passed 354 cars while running in the top-15 during the last eight TMS races. He scored a 10th place finish in a 2006 Camping World Truck Series start at TMS. He also finished 18th and ninth in the two Texas Nationwide Series races in 2008. Find a spot for the No. 9 Ford this week.

Kurt Busch is another driver who favors the Fort Worth track. The 2009 fall race winner said: "Over the years Texas has treated me well and I always get up on the wheel there.”  In addition to his win, Busch has 11 top-10’s in 19 Cup starts. Earlier in his career, he averaged a 4.5 finish in his two Truck Series races at TMS. He has a Nationwide Series winner’s trophy from this track as well. Busch and his new team are using the final six races as a head-start on 2013. We could be looking at top 15 or better this week from the Denver-based No. 78 Chevrolet.

Our deepest pick this week wouldn’t be so deep if he was still driving a Penske Racing Dodge. AJ Allmendinger’s worst finish in his last six Cup starts at Fort Worth was a 19th place. He spent more than half (about 53%) of the time running in the top-15 in those six races. In this race last season, he started deep in the field (26th) made it to 14th by mid-race and finished 10th. We don’t expect that kind of performance from Allmendinger and his Phoenix Racing team but a top 20 or better might be in the works for the No. 51 Chevrolet.

 

 



Tony Ballantoni runs the NASCAR coverage at RotoWorld.com.
Email :Anthony Ballantoni



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