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Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Weekend Update: AAA Texas 500

Saturday, November 3, 2018


“Not so fast,” say Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. We’ve been questioning their dominance since they gave up all but one playoff race, but it would seem they were bidding their time waiting for the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.  Both drivers rolled fast cars off their haulers and qualified near the front.

Texas is a track on which it pays to roll off the hauler fast and the drivers who topped the speed chart are the ones who are going to be this week’s favorites.

Practice

In Saturday morning’s practice, Harvick posted the quickest 10-lap average at 192.022 mph. He qualified third and is close enough to the front to use that average speed to separate from the field and earn stage points. No one quite knows what the points picture will look like at the end of the AAA Texas 500 and he might need all he can get. That is just the kind of motivation Harvick needs to dominate Stage 1 and 2. If the team avoids mistakes – which has been difficult all season – they will challenge for the win. Harvick also had the quickest 10-lap average in Happy Hour.

Kyle Busch had the second-quickest time on the average speed chart in both sessions and backed it up with a great track record that includes a victory this spring. He struggled last year and failed to crack the top 10 in either race, but before that he had a perfect record of top-fives from 2014 through 2016. Given Harvick’s propensity to make late-race mistakes, Busch should be the favorite to win.

Chase Elliott struggled badly in the morning session at Texas. He was in the mid- to high-teens on both the single lap speed chart and average speed chart with the 19th-fastest top speed (192.226) and the 11th 10-lap average (189.849) of only 18 drivers to go that far. He picked up some time in Happy Hour with the eighth-best average speed among 25 drivers. He did not pick up much speed in regard to single laps, however, with the 17th-place spot on that chart.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. posted the fastest single lap in Happy Hour and was reported on NBCSN to have the quickest average speed during the entire session. His runs apparently came in shorter than 10-lap bursts, however, because he does not show up on the 10-lap averages recorded by NASCAR Statistical Services.

Click here for the Saturday morning practice report from NBC 
Click here for the Happy Hour practice report from NBC 

Qualification

Ryan Blaney blistered the track on Friday to score the first Texas pole of his career. With a speed of 200.505 mph, he recorded the second-fastest pole on a 1.5-mile track in history. Last year’s 200.915 mph lap by Kurt Busch in this same race still holds the record. A single fast lap is not enough to recommend a driver on Sunday, but Team Penske has been solid on this track for a long time. Blaney also has a three-race streak of top-10s on 1.5-mile tracks to recommend him.

Clint Bowyer was the only other driver to break the 200 mph mark in the final round of qualification with a speed of 200.230 mph. He led the playoff contenders, but was followed closely by his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Harvick (199.941) and Aric Almirola (199.778). Bowyer does not feel that he is in a must-win situation and that could be a double-edged sword. If he does not win on Sunday but one of the other drivers outside the top four do, the cutline changes drastically. It is best to win, but Bowyer’s attitude might just earn major stage and race points for fantasy owners even if he fails to do so.

Joey Logano botched his first lap in the final round and qualified only eighth, but he had a much faster car. While his official time was 199.086 mph in Round 3, he topped the second session with a 200.267 mph lap that would have put him on the outside pole. The good news is that he should earn positive place-differential points.

Click here for the qualification report from NBC 



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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