Technically, Joey Logano is the only Playoff driver guaranteed a spot at Homestead in a couple of weeks, but that should change this weekend. Now the question is, will the next one be Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch? Not only are those two the most recent winners here at Texas Motor Speedway, but the #4 Ford and #18 Toyota were clearly the class of the field during both practice sessions here on Saturday. Of course, anything can happen on race day, and we’re set to run 500 miles this Sunday before a winner is crowned.
NASCAR went back to the “normal” weekend schedule for race #34, as there was a practice session followed by qualifying on Friday, and then two more practice sessions on Saturday. Ryan Blaney won the pole on Friday and the full starting lineup for the AAA Texas 500 can be found by clicking here. As far as the two post-qualifying practice sessions, you can find those speeds here: Practice #2 Speeds – Happy Hour Speeds. I’d also recommend reading our in-depth notes for each session: Practice #2 Notes – Happy Hour Notes.
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Final Top 25 Rankings for Texas 2
1. Kevin Harvick – Starts 3rd – DraftKings Price: $11,700 – FanDuel Price: $13,500
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Kevin Harvick is going to be a contender this weekend. He only has a 25-point cushion with two races to go in this Playoff Round, and although that is a pretty good amount to have, it’s hard to imagine the #4 team letting their foot off the gas and points racing on Sunday. As far as Harvick’s history here at Texas Motor Speedway, he’s the defending winner of this race (also started 3rd), and he has ended up 6th or better in seven of the last eight races here. The exception? A 10th-place finish in 2016, after starting back in 22nd. Additionally, since this track was repaved, Harvick has the best average finish (2.3) with along the with most laps led (67.3 per race) and the most fastest laps (52 per race). If that wasn’t enough to convince you, Harvick has the best average driver rating on 1.5-mile tracks this season (125.4) and has led over a third of all laps ran on this track type in 2018. The #4 Ford was 8th-fastest in Practice #2 on Saturday and 7th-fastest in Happy Hour. Harvick ranked P1 when it came to ten-lap average in those sessions. He definitely has the car to beat for Sunday.
2. Kyle Busch – Starts 10th – DraftKings Price: $12,200 – FanDuel Price: $13,000
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
I’m interested to see how Kyle Busch and the #18 team handle this race on Sunday. They’ve already said that they want to be #1 in points when this Playoff Round ends, and currently they have a 21-point advantage over Truex and Harvick. So as far as using this as a points race, I could definitely see this team employing that strategy. Does that mean Kyle Busch is going to be a bad Fantasy NASCAR pick on Sunday? Absolutely not. It just means I don’t see Rowdy doing anything crazy to get a win. Overall, Kyle Busch has been amazing on the 1.5-mile tracks this season, with an average finish of 3.9–over three positions better than Martin Truex, Jr., who is 2nd-best with 7.0. If you take out Busch’s worst finish, his average goes down to 3.1. Here at Texas, Kyle went to victory lane here in April and has finished inside the top 5 in six of the last eight races at this track. He was 2nd-fastest in Practice #2 on Saturday with the 2nd-best ten-lap average, and then ranked 8th and 2nd on those two charts (respectively) in Happy Hour later that day. Kyle is a great all-around Fantasy NASCAR play this weekend.
3. Ryan Blaney – Starts 1st – DraftKings Price: $8,700 – FanDuel Price: $10,800
**Risk Factor: Low-to-Medium Risk**
Texas is a great track for Ryan Blaney, and I don’t think it would surprise anybody if we saw him get the win on Sunday. Remember, Blaney started on the outsidepole and led 148 laps in the first race here last season, which is significant because he was still in Wood Brothers Racing equipment. Overall, Ryan has finished 12th or better in each of his last four starts at this track, and that includes a 6th-place finish in this race last season, and a 5th-place finish here back in April–his first start here for Team Penske. Singling out 1.5-mile tracks this season, Blaney has an average finish of 14.1 on them this season (which is 10th-best in the series) with an average driver rating of 101.6–which is 6th-best in the garage. Pole sitters on this track type are averaging a finish of 9.2, but when you take out Menard at Chicagoland and Erik Jones at Las Vegas 2 (he wrecked), that average jumps up to 4.3. With Blaney’s track history here as well as how much of an advantage the pole provides at this track type, I see no reason why he isn’t a legitimate top 5 threat heading into Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. The #12 Ford ranked 13th-fastest in Practice #2 on Saturday and 5th-fastest in Happy Hour. Blaney ranked 4th in ten-lap average during that final session.