Driver Group Game Picks Texas

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The Cup Series will travel to Texas Motor Speedway this week for another intermediate track race. The teams will only compete on the 1.5-mile tracks six times this year (not counting the Superspeedway at Atlanta). That is a shame, because some of the best racing has come on these tracks. Texas used to be one of the worst tracks on the schedule, but the Gen-7 car has put on a pretty good show in the Lone Star State. I expect the same this weekend. The AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 can be seen Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

 

STRATEGY FOR TEXAS

The cream rises to the top at the 1.5 mile tracks. I want to play the drivers from Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing in my Driver Group Game lineups. The last seven drivers to win on the intermediate tracks are Kyle Larson (Las Vegas 2024), Christopher Bell (Homestead 2023), Kyle Larson (Las Vegas 2023), William Byron (Texas 2023), Tyler Reddick (Kansas 2023), Ryan Blaney (Charlotte 2023), Denny Hamlin (Kansas 2023) and Denny Hamlin (Las Vegas (2023). That is three wins for Hendrick Motorsports and four wins by Joe Gibbs Racing alliance cars. I plan to stick to the Hendrick Motorsports and the Toyota’s this week for my lineup.

Here are the picks for the Cook Out 400

 

GROUP A DRIVERS

KYLE LARSON (7): Should I play it safe and use one driver from Hendrick Motorsports and pair him with Denny Hamlin, or should I put all of my eggs in the HMS basket? I trust HMS to bring fast cars to the track this week, so I will play two drivers from their team and it will start with the No. 5 car. Larson destroyed the field last month at Las Vegas. Larson led 181 of the 267 laps, won both Stages, had an average running position of 1.7 (that is insane) and he won the race. Larson also won two of the last five races at Texas. The No. 5 car has a great chance to win Sunday.

WILLIAM BYRON (8): Byron is off to a hot start in 2024. He already has three wins on three completely different tracks. Byron did not have a chance in the 1.5-mile race at Las Vegas because a HUGE trash bag was stuck on the front of his car. Willy-B has been the best at Texas Motor Speedway though. He won the last race at this track, has the best average running position, the average finishing position and the second-best driver rating (behind Kyle Larson). I would not be surprised to see the No. 5 and No. 24 cars fighting for the lead at the end of the race Sunday.

(OTHER PICK) DENNY HAMLIN (8): Hamlin is the driver you should use if you do not want to play two drivers from Hendrick Motorsports (I would replace William Byron with Denny Hamlin). The Toyota’s looked fast at Las Vegas in their new Toyota Camry XSE car. Hamlin started 28th, scored Stage Points in both Stages and finished 8th in the race. Hamlin also finished 5th and 10th in the two races at Texas Motor Speedway using the Gen-7 car. Hamlin should have another good race this week at Texas.

GROUP A DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Kyle Larson 2) William Byron 3) Denny Hamlin 4) Martin Truex Jr. 5) Ryan Blaney 6) Chase Elliott 7) Christopher Bell 8) Kyle Busch

 

GROUP B DRIVERS

TYLER REDDICK (7): There is a lot to like about Reddick this week. He had the second-best car at Las Vegas earlier this season. Reddick started 18th and quickly made his way to the front. He finished 2nd in both Stages and 2nd in the race. Reddick won at Texas in 2022 in the Gen-7 car. This will be a good race to use an allocation with the No. 45 car.

BUBBA WALLACE (8): Wallace has been running in the top-10 in the last two races and I expect the No. 23 car to run in the top-10 again Sunday. Wallace was really good at Texas last year. He won the pole, led 111 laps, scored Stage Points in both Stages and finished 3rd in the race. I will take a chance with Wallace at Texas.

TY GIBBS (8): Do not look at the stats for Gibbs at Texas because they are ugly. The No. 54 team is much better this year. Gibbs qualified 8th and finished 5th at Las Vegas last month. We can expect similar results from Gibbs this week. I am not sure if I will use Gibbs in my starting lineup, but I at least want the No. 54 car in my lineup.

ROSS CHASTAIN (9): The last choice in Group B was tough. Should I use another Hendrick Motorsports driver (Alex Bowman), or use Ross Chastain? I decided to go with the “Watermelon Man.” Chastain ran well at Las Vegas last month. He started 20th and finished 4th. Chastain also ran well in the last race at Texas. He started 5th and finished 2nd. Chastain is at his best on the 1.5-mile tracks, so I will have the No. 1 car in my lineup at Texas.

(OTHER PICK) ALEX BOWMAN (8): The 2024 season has been a battle between Hendrick Motorsports and the Toyotas. I would have no problem with replacing Ross Chastain with Alex Bowman so that you have all HMS and Toyotas in Group A and in Group B. Bowman is on a bit of a hot streak right now. He finished 4th at Bristol, 4th at COTA and 8th last week at Martinsville. I would not be surprised if the hot streak continued at Texas this weekend.

GROUP B DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Tyler Reddick 2) Ty Gibbs 3) Bubba Wallace 4) Ross Chastain 5) Alex Bowman 6) Brad Keselowski 7) Chris Buescher 8) Joey Logano

 

GROUP C DRIVERS

NOAH GRAGSON (8): Group C is going to be tough this year at the 1.5-mile tracks. There really isn’t any driver who stands out over the rest. I will take a chance with Gragson Sunday. He started 30th and quickly went to the front at Las Vegas last month. Gragson finished 6th in the race. He also won his last Xfinity Series race at Texas in 2022. Gragson will be the driver I will likely play on the 1.5-mile tracks this year.

CHASE BRISCOE (7): I would hate to use another allocation with Briscoe this week, but the No. 14 car seems to be the most consistent in Group C. Briscoe was only “OK” at Las Vegas last month. He qualified 6th and finished 21st (mostly because of his pit crew). Texas Motor Speedway has been a much better track for Briscoe. He finished 10th and 5th in the two races using the Gen-7 car at Texas. Briscoe should be one of the top picks in Group C this weekend.

(OTHER CHOICE) CARSON HOCEVAR (9): Jimmie Johnson could be a choice in Group C this week, but he has been horrible in the Gen-7 car. Johnson has an average finishing position of 33.5 in the Gen-7. Carson Hocevar is the driver you need to play if you do not want to use two drivers from Stewart-Haas Racing. Hocevar started 14th and finished 15th at Las Vegas last month. He also started 19th and finished 16th at Texas last year. Hocevar should be a safe pick to finish somewhere around the 15th position Sunday.

GROUP C DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Noah Gragson 2) Chase Briscoe 3) Carson Hocevar 4) John H. Nemechek 5) Todd Gilliland

* Be sure to check back Sunday morning for my starting lineup.

 

 

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