Kevin Harvick – Kevin Harvick will be the driver to beat at Texas. He won here last fall, and this year at 1.5 mile tracks he’s won both races in dominant fashion. There’s no reason why anyone should be favored over him. Las Vegas is the most similar 1.5 mile track visited this year and at that venue in addition to winning the race he won the first two Stages, earned a perfect driver rating and led 214 laps. Last year at Texas, Harvick was a great and was the only driver who swept the top five. Last fall he raced his way to victory lane after making a late pass on Truex Jr. In addition to wining he earned the best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position, led 38 laps, won Stage #1 and finished 2nd in Stage #2. Last spring he had a great car. He earned the best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position, finished 4th and led 77 laps. On Sunday look for Harvick to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Martin Truex Jr. – Martin Treux Jr. will be a favorite at Texas. He’s a super elite performer at 1.5 mile tracks and he ran extremely well in both Texas races last year. Currently at 1.5 mile tracks he has eight straight top 5 finishes and thirteen straight top 8’s. This year at 1.5 mile tracks he’s run well and has results of 4th and 5th. Additionally in those events he’s one of just two drivers who have swept the top five and his average running position is 6.5. Last year at Texas, Truex Jr. had a great season. Between the combined events he had the 2nd best driver rating, a 5th place average running position, and led the most laps (156). Last fall Truex Jr. had an extremely strong car. He finished 2nd, earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position and led a race high 107 laps. Late in the race it looked like he would win but Kevin Harvick reeled him in. Additionally he finished 2nd in Stage #1 and 4th in Stage #2. Last spring Truex Jr. had a great car that ranked as one of the best. When the checkered flag waved he earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 6th place average running position, finished 8th and led 49 laps. I will note he was better than his result but some late pit strategy hurt him. Also in that race he finished 2nd in Stage #1 and 10th in Stage #2. Over the last five races this season Truex Jr. has finished in the top five every race and has a 3.8 average finish. On Sunday look for Truex Jr. to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Kyle Busch – Kyle Busch will be a factor at Texas. This year at 1.5 mile tracks he’s been a strong competitor. Outside of Kevin Harvick he belongs in the conversation of who’s been the next best driver at tracks of this length. Over the combined races at 1.5 mile tracks he has the 3rd best driver rating, is tied for the third best average finish (4.5) and has a 6th place average running position. Las Vegas is the more similar of the two tracks visited and at that venue he finished 2nd, earned the 5th best driver rating and had a 7th place average running position. Last fall at Texas Busch had a tough race and finished 19th. I wouldn’t read into it at all. At the very start of the race he damaged his car and was missing a good amount of sheet metal after contact with Keselowski. That caused him to make an immediate pit stop that dropped him two laps down. Last spring Joe Gibbs Racing was in a performance lull and he was just OK. He finished 15th, had a 14th place average running position and earned the 14th best driver rating. Over the last five races this season Busch has a series best 3.2 average finish. On Sunday I would look for Busch to compete for a top five.