1) Joey Logano (Starting – 2nd)
Texas Bottom Line – Joey Logano will be one of the drivers to beat at Texas. He’s a recent champion and has continually performed at an elite level. In 5 of the last 7 races in the “Lone Star State” he’s finished in the top five. On Sunday I think he’ll finish in the top five and compete for the win. In his two incident free races at 1.5 mile tracks in the Chase he’s finished in the top five (3rd and 5th).
Texas Track History – Joey Logano has run very well at Texas. As stated earlier in 5 of the last 7 races he’s finished in the top five. Over those events minus last fall he has a 4.7 average finish and a 7.5 average running position. This spring Logano was a consistent front runner. In the race he finished 3rd and had a 6th place average running position. Last fall he had a “catastrophic” flat tire early in the race that sent him to the garage for many laps which led to his 40th place finish. In spring 2015 he was strong. He finished 4th, earned the 5th best driver rating and had a 6th place average running position. In fall 2014 Joey Logano was top five good but finished 12th after having some late adversity. In spring 2014 Logano was extremely strong and raced his way to victory lane. In the event he earned the best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position and led 108 laps. In the two Texas races prior to that he had results of 3rd and 5th.
Recent Similar Track Success – Joey Logano has been very strong in his incident free races at 1.5 mile tracks in the Chase. In those races he finished 2nd (Chicagoland) and 3rd (Kansas).
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $9,400
2) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 3rd)
Texas Bottom Line – Kevin Harvick will be tough to beat at Texas. After his 20th place finish at Martinsville you know he’ll be going all out for the win. On Sunday I think he has a very real chance to get his first win at Texas. Kansas is the last 1.5 mile track visited and at that venue in a “must win situation” he raced his way to victory lane. In practice Kevin Harvick didn’t have good short run speed but over long runs he ranked as one of the best. I think he’s approaching this race a lot like he did Atlanta in the spring. I think he’s worked on comfort over speed.
Texas Track History – Kevin Harvick has been a very strong performer at Texas in the #4. In 3 of the last 4 Texas races he’s finished in the top 3. Also over these four events he has the 2nd best driver rating, a 4.3 average finish and a 5.3 average running position. This spring he was probably a 5th to 8th place driver but finished 10th after getting a pit penalty in the final third of the race. Last fall he had a great car and finished 3rd. That’s remarkable when you consider he had to overcome two flat tires (second with 54 laps to go) and transmissions issues late. In spring 2015 he had a great car. He started 2nd, finished 2nd, had a 2nd place average running position, earned the 2nd best driver rating and led 96 laps. In fall 2014 he also finished 2nd. In spring 2014 he had an early engine failure while running in the top five which led to his 42nd place finish.
Recent Similar Track Success – Kansas is the most recent 1.5 mile track visited and at that venue he raced his way to victory lane and led 74 laps. In the other two Chase races at 1.5 mile tracks he was strong but those events weren’t incident free. Over the course of the season he belongs in the conversation of being one of the best drivers on this track type.
Yahoo A Driver / DraftKings $10,900
Further Recommended Reading – Post Practice Predictions (another fantasy take), Practice Notes / Practice Speeds Center, Speed Cheat Sheet, PROS Rankings, Asterisk Mark Report, Yahoo Start Page, DraftKings Start Page
3) Chase Elliott (Starting – 11th)
Texas Bottom Line – Chase Elliott might be able to notch his first win on Sunday at Texas. In spring 2014 in the “Lone Star State” he got his first win the Xfinity Series here, so history could easily repeat itself. In recent races at similar tracks he’s been one of the strongest performers. If he has an incident free race then you can count on him being a contender. On Sunday look for him to compete for a top five finish. In Happy Hour his car was very fast over long runs. His ten lap average ranked as the second best.
Texas Track History – Chase Elliott only has one Sprint Cup start under his belt at Texas, and it was a good one. This spring he started in the rear of the field but had no trouble advancing in the running order. He raced as far forward as 2nd. When the race reached its conclusion he finished 5th.
Recent Similar Track Success – His results don’t show it but in recent races at high-speed intermediate tracks he’s been one of the strongest performers. Over the last four events he has the second best driver rating, has led the second most laps and has run the most-fastest laps. He’s been good enough to win 3 of those 4 races. If it wasn’t for late cautions he clearly would’ve won at Chicagoland and Michigan #2.
Yahoo C Driver / DraftKings $9,200