The second race of the Round of Eight will take the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway this week. Joey Logano secured his spot in the championship race at Phoenix. Who will be the next driver to join him? The AutoTrader Automotive 500 can be seen Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Last Week’s Results
The picks performed well again last week. The drivers scored 76 Stage points and finished No. 2, No. 4, No. 6, No. 7 and No. 15. It would have been a lot better if Denny Hamlin would have avoided the wall and kept his track position in the top five. The picks beat 99.6% of the competition in the regular season and they are beating 98.6% of the entries in the playoffs. Not too bad.
Here are my picks for Texas…
Kevin Harvick is the best pick at Texas. I have one allocation left with Harvick and I will use it Sunday. The final four drivers do not earn Stage points at Phoenix so I am not worried about leaving them off my team at that race. Harvick has won the last three October races at Texas. He has also led 334 laps and finished 1st, 6th, 1st, 1st, 1st and 2nd in the 6 Stages. Harvick starts on the pole and will have the No. 1 pit stall. He should dominate this race Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr is that he is much better at Texas in October then he is in the spring or summer. Truex has a 5.6 average finishing position in October at Texas in the 550 HP aero package. He will start 6th Sunday so he will have the track position he needs if his team can pass pre-race inspection. Truex is 31 points below the transfer position so he will need as many Stage points as possible. The No. 19 team will likely gamble in the pits to keep Truex up front.
Denny Hamlin won the race at Texas last year and he had one of the fastest cars at the track in July. Hamlin started 7th, led 11 laps, scored 8 Stage points and finished 20th. His poor finish was the result of being sent into the wall by Alex Bowman with 13 laps left in the race. Hamlin was running 4th at the time. The No. 11 team is only 20 points above the cutoff line so Hamlin will try to score as many Stage points as possible Sunday.
Ryan Blaney completely dominated the first half of the race at Texas. That should not surprise anyone because that is what he does on the 1.5-mile tracks. Blaney started 2nd, led a race-high 150 laps, won both Stages and finished 7th. He was battling for the lead on a late race restart when he got loose. The No. 12 car was the best in the field at Texas in July. He should be one of the favorites to win again Sunday.
Joey Logano is the first driver to secure a spot in the championship race at Phoenix. So how focused will the No. 22 team be on this race and will they sacrifice track position if it will help Brad Keselowski in the race? All of these questions are legitimate. Logano has a 5th place average finishing position at Texas since 2015 (that is the best in the series). Logano starts on the front row so he has the track position to score a lot of Stage points and finish up front. If for some reason he punts this race because he is focused on Phoenix, I will put him in the Garage.
Garage Driver: Alex Bowman finished 30th in the last race at Texas because he got loose and ran into Denny Hamlin with 13 laps left in the race. Bowman was running 8th at the time of the accident. I would not worry too much about his finishing position at Texas in July. Bowman is on fire right now with his 3rd place finish last week at Kansas and his 5th place finish at Las Vegas earlier in the playoffs. Bowman started 5th and finished 5th in this race last year. He will roll off from the 5th position again Sunday. I will use Bowman as my insurance policy Sunday.
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