1) Ryan Blaney/ Starting 2nd / DraftKings $ / FanDuel $11,200
Ryan Blaney will be a driver to be reckoned with at Texas. He’s run extremely well here, and you have to love the speed he’s displayed at 1.5 mile tracks where tire wear is low to minimal. His Green Flag Average Speed Ranking at those venues is a series best 3.0 and he ranked as the best at both Las Vegas and Kentucky. Being fast at both of those venues is extremely notable because the same tire that was used at those tracks, is being used at Texas. Since NASCAR has returned, Blaney has finished between 3rd to 6th in all five races held at 1.5 mile tracks. At Texas, Blaney has been strong and in 4 of the last 5 races he’s finished in the top 8. Over those combined events minus a misleading result in spring 2019 he has a 5.3 average finish. Last fall, Blaney was strong. He finished 8th, had a 12.7 average running position and ranked as the 11th Fastest Driver Late In A Run. In spring 2019, Blaney had a great car and was a contender to win, but finished an asterisk mark 37th. While he was leading around lap 215 engine issues surfaced and that doomed him to his poor result. Prior to his demise he led 45 laps, finished 5th in Stage #1 and finished 2nd in Stage #2. In fall 2018, Blaney had a great car and was a serious threat to win. When the checkered flag waved he finished 2nd, earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position and led 40 laps. In spring 2018 he had a great car and finished 5th despite his race not being incident free. On lap 47 during pit stops while he was running in the top five he got penalized when his team had an uncontrolled tire on pit road. Later on lap 140 he made an unexpected pit stop because of a loose wheel which dropped him a lap down into the low-twenties. On Sunday, look for Blaney to be a top five contender who’ll be a factor to win.
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2) Kevin Harvick/ Starting 5th / DraftKings $ / FanDuel $14,500
Kevin Harvick is an elite performer at Texas who’ll be the favorite. He’s won 3 of the last 6 races in the Lone Star State on the new surface, but its important to note all of his wins have come in the fall. Over the last three spring races his average finish is a not to shabby 4.6. Over the last four combined races at Texas, Harvick has a 3.0 average finish, a 6.8 average running position and he’s averaged leading 95.8 laps per race. Last fall at Texas, Harvick easily raced his way to victory lane from the pole. It was a track position race, and his car was trimmed out for speed. In addition to finishing 1st he earned the best driver rating, had a 6.1 average running position, led 119 laps, won Stage #1 and finished 6th in Stage #2. His Green Flag Average Speed for the afternoon ranked as the 2nd best. In spring 2019, Harvick had a solid showing. He started mid-pack (23rd), finished 8th and had a 12th place average running position. In fall 2018, Harvick put on a display of domination. He won Stage #1, won Stage #2 and of course won the race. Additionally, he led 177 laps and earned a near perfect driver rating. In spring 2018, Harvick had a great car despite having to make an unexpected pit stop which dropped him off the lead lap. When the checkered flag waved he finished 2nd, earned the 2nd best driver rating, led 87 laps, ran the most fastest laps and won Stage #1. This year at 1.5 mile tracks, Harvick has been fast and minus Homestead where he had a misleading result his average finish is 5.8. Charlotte is arguably the most similar track and at that venue he had results of 5th and 10th. On Sunday, look for Harvick to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
3) Martin Truex Jr. / Starting 10th / DraftKings $ / FanDuel $13,000
Martin Truex Jr. should be on your short list of favorites at Texas. It’s been a great track for him, and you have to love how well he’s run at 1.5 mile tracks where tire wear is low to minimal. In 3 of those 4 races he’s had a car that was a contender to win (Las Vegas, Charlotte #1 and Kentucky). At Texas, Truex Jr. has run well and in 9 of the last 10 races he’s finished in the top 12. Last fall at Texas, Truex Jr. finished 6th. Overall though, he was a little off compared to his normal level of performance. His average running position was 12.5, he ranked as the 13th Fastest Driver Late In A run and his Green Flag Average Speed ranked as the 14th best. In spring 2019, Truex finished 12th and had an 11th place average running position. That race was early in the season with the new rules package, so I wouldn’t read into that too much. In fall 2018, Truex finished 9th despite making an unexpected pit stop on lap 245 while he was running in the top ten. From the race it should be noted he finished 5th in Stage #1 and 3rd in Stage #2. In spring 2018 he had a good car, but finished a misleading 37th. On lap 80 while he was running in 2nd he got into the wall hard which marked the end of his race. In the six Texas races prior to that he finished in the top 9. On Sunday, look for Truex Jr. to be a top five contender.