1) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 2nd) (Odds To Win – 9/2)
Texas Fantasy Outlook – Kevin Harvick has had tremendous speed all season long at 1.5 mile tracks. Performance wise for the year I would argue he’s been the best. Unfortunately in the Chase at these venues he’s had some problems. If he can have an incident free race he’ll be very competitive and be a lock for a top five. Recently at Texas Kevin Harvick has been extremely strong and if it wasn’t for Johnson he would have back to back wins. Tire wear will be a big deal at Texas and that plays to his strength. Perhaps the most similar track to Texas in the Chase from a tire wear perspective is Chicagoland. He had a winning car there until Johnson cut his tire. On Sunday NASCAR will be using that very tire again.
Texas Track History – Kevin Harvick has never won at Texas but he’s been pretty strong recently. He has back to back runner-up results and has finished in the top ten 52% percent. This spring he had a great car. He finished 2nd, earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position and led the 2nd most laps (96). Last fall he ran very well but didn’t have anything for Johnson or Gordon. When that race reached its conclusion he finished 2nd and had a 4th place average running position. In spring 2014 he had a short afternoon. While he was running in 2nd on lap 28 his engine blew up. In the 9 Texas races prior to that he was extremely consistent and finished between 5th and 13th in every race but one.
Recent Similar Track Trends – Kevin Harvick has been extremely strong at 1.5 mile tracks this year. In the 9 races held at tracks of this length he has the best driver rating. At these venues minus Chicagoland (problems while leading) and Kansas #2 (late speeding penalty while in the top five) he has a 3.7 average finish and a 4.4 average running position.
Momentum – Kevin Harvick has been very strong in the Chase but he’s had a ton of misleading results (Chicagoland – wreck, New Hampshire – ran out of gas, Kansas – speeding penalty, Talladega – engine problems).
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2) Joey Logano (Starting – 4th) (Odds To Win – 5/1)
Texas Fantasy Outlook – The 22 team will be in “Hail Mary” mode at Texas because of what transpired on the track last week. If he doesn’t win this weekend he’s in huge trouble at Phoenix. The good news for him is that he’s dominated the competition in the last two races at 1.5 mile tracks. One other attribute I like about him is that it’s said his team is more fired up than ever. If that’s the case I think a determined Joey Logano will be very tough to keep out of victory lane.
Texas Track History – Joey Logano has been very strong at Texas since joining Penske Racing. Over the last five races he has the best average finish (5.0), best average running position (7.8) and has led 129 laps. This spring he had a strong car and finished 4th. Also in the race he earned the 5th best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position and led 19 laps. Last fall he finished 12th but he was better than his result. Late in the race he had some issues. With 38 laps to go while he was running in 4th he had a long stop that dropped him to 23rd. Shortly after that with 31 laps to go he had a flat tire and spun by himself. When you consider those two issues I think his 12th place finish is looking pretty good. In spring 2014 he had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. His strength in the race was being good over long runs. In that race he earned the best driver rating and led 108 laps. In 2013 he swept the top ten with results of 3rd and 5th.
Recent Similar Track Trends – This year at 1.5 mile tracks Joey Logano has scored the most points, has the best average finish (5.1), best average running position (5.2) and has led the most laps (489).
Momentum – Heading into Martinsville Joey Logano had three straight wins and a 3.7 average finish in the Chase.
Further Recommended Reading – Practice #1 Notes, Practice #1 Speeds, Texas Asterisk Mark Report, Texas PROS Rankings, Texas Scouting Report, Texas Qualifying Results, DraftKings Points From The Last Race At Texas, (Week Day Content For Additional Information On Nearly Every Driver – Top Tier Elite Picks> Front Runner Rankings> Mid Pack Predictions > Yahoo C List Preview)
3) Kyle Busch (Starting – 3rd) (Odds To Win – 6/1)
Texas Fantasy Outlook – Kyle Busch will be one of the drivers to beat at Texas. The grip level is low and that plays to his strength. In terms of tire wear Chicagoland is likely the most similar track visited recently and at that venue he had a strong car and was a serious threat to win. At Texas Kyle Busch is a fantasy ace. He should easily have 5 straight top four finishes but you’ll find out why that’s not the case below. Kyle Busch will be starting 3rd on Sunday. In the three races where he’s started in the top 3 at Texas he’s finished in the top 3 every race.
Texas Track History – Kyle Busch has been a very strong performer at Texas. He’s a former champion and has finished in the top four in 4 of the last 5 races. Over his last five Texas races he has a 4.8 average finish, 8.0 average running position and has led 263 laps. This spring he missed the race due to injury. Last fall he didn’t run well but he did finish 4th (had an 18th place average running position). His good result is the product of how the end of the race played out. In spring 2014 he had a strong showing. He finished 3rd, earned the 4th best driver rating, had an 8th place average running position and led 10 laps. In fall 2013 he had a fast car but finished 13th. In that race while he was running in 2nd on lap 57 he got into the wall hard. Later in the race with 35 laps to go while he was running in 4th he got a pit stop penalty. He couldn’t overcome that problem with the limited laps remaining. In spring 2013 he had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. Also in that race he earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position and led 171 laps. In fall 2012 he finished 2nd.
Recent Similar Track Trends – Kyle Busch has been very strong in the Chase at 1.5 mile tracks but he has some misleading results. At Chicagoland he potentially had the best car (finished 9th), he was top 3 good at Charlotte (finished 20th) and at Kansas he finished 5th.
Momentum – In the Chase minus New Hampshire where he got into the wall hard and Charlotte where he had his pit road incident Kyle Busch has a 6.4 average finish.