Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Mid-Pack: AAA Texas 500

Thursday, October 31, 2013


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 4, 2012: Jimmie Johnson (48 Chevrolet) won the AAA Texas 500 from the pole. It was his fifth victory in 2012 and his second victory and 14th top-10 finish in 19 races at Fort Worth. This was Chevrolet's 700th Sprint Cup Series victory. Drivers leading five or more of the 335 laps: No. 39 Ryan Newman six laps, finished 12th; No. 2 Brad Keselowski 75 laps, finished second; No. 18 Kyle Busch 80 laps, finished third and Race-winner Johnson led the most laps (168).
April 13, 2013: Kyle Busch (18 Toyota) won the NRA 500 from the pole. It was his second victory in 2013 and his first victory and seventh top-10 finish in 16 races at Texas. Busch also won the Nationwide Series race at TMS on the previous night. Drivers leading 10 or more of the 334 laps: No. 24 Jeff Gordon 15 laps, had suspension problems (credited with a 38th place), No. 56 Martin Truex Jr. 152 laps, finished second and Race-winner Busch led the most laps (171).

Track Quick Facts courtesy NASCAR Media:
Last five winners: Kyle Busch 4/13/13, Jimmie Johnson 11/4/12, Greg Biffle 4/14/12, Tony Stewart 11/6/11 and Matt Kenseth 4/9/11.
First Cup start here (Active drivers): Brad Keselowski 11/2/08, Trevor Bayne 11/7/10 and David Starr 4/9/11. (Parker Kligerman will debut in Cup this week)
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, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.  There were 43 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s Cup race. Here are our picks for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mid-Pack picks
Martin Truex Jr. feels he has some 'unfinished business' at Texas Motor Speedway. In the April 2013 race at the Fort Worth track, he started in fifth position, led 142 laps, but came up short by only 0.508 seconds to finish runner-up to Kyle Busch. He tested at Texas early last week and hopes it will get him one spot better this Sunday. In 16 Cup starts here, Truex holds a 16.4 average starting position coupled with a 15.1 average finish. He improved those numbers to a 3.7 average start (including a pole April 2012) and a 7.0 average finish for his last three starts at the 1.5-mile oval. Keep an eye on the No. 56 Toyota team this weekend.

Marcos Ambrose has said: "Texas is one of my favorite tracks." In 10 starts at the track, he has a 19.4 average finish. Six of the last eight starts resulted in top-20 finishes. NASCAR Statistics ranks him second-best in Quality Passes. Ambrose passed 416 cars while running in the top-15 during the last 10 TMS races. He posted his best finish of sixth in the 2011 spring race. Ambrose was on his way to topping that finish in this race last season. He ran in the top-15 for most of the first 310 laps. While running around eighth or ninth, he got turned into the wall and was done for the day (credited with a 32nd place). Find a spot for the No. 9 Ford Fusion on your roster for another possible top-20 this week.

Ambrose's teammate is another potential top-20 performer at the Fort Worth track. Aric Almirola has some success in all three NASCAR premier series at this venue. All three starts here in the Nationwide Series ended in 19th or better finishes. Seven of his nine Camping World Truck Series Texas races were top-20s (best was a seventh in 2010). Back to the Sprint Cup.. Almirola matched his track best of seventh place in the April 2013 NRA 500 (from third in the lineup). The No. 43 team has unloaded that same top-10 Ford Fusion chassis to be used as his primary car this weekend. Give Almirola some consideration as a possible sleeper pick for Sunday's event.

Our final pick this week is Nationwide Series regular Trevor Bayne in the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford Fusion. The part-time Sprint Cup team plans on running here in Texas and in the season finale at Homestead-Miami. In six Sprint Cup starts at Fort Worth, Bayne and the team scored four top-20 finishes (17th, 17th, 17th and 18th). Driving his 'regular' Nationwide Series ride, he has five top-15 finishes, including a win in 2011, in six visits to the Lone Star state. At this point in the season, most of you have run out of options for your fantasy teams. This is a good week to fill a slot with a driver who already knows how to find victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway.



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



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