The Cup Series will head back to Texas Motor Speedway this week to take the green flag on the Round of 12 in their 2022 playoffs. The Cup Series competed at Texas in their All-Star race in May. Now they get to go back to the track with a lot on the line for the drivers still competing for a championship. Will we see a playoff driver in Victory Lane Sunday? It has not happened yet this season in the playoff. Will we have another first time winner in Victory Lane? Ryan Blaney won the All-Star Race at Texas this year and Martin Truex Jr. has a history of running well at this track. Neither driver has won in 2022. Expect the unexpected in one of the longest races of the season.
Here are my picks for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500…
JOEY LOGANO (4): I wasn’t planning on using Logano this week because he has not been good on the 1.5-mile tracks this season. Logano did have one of his best races on an intermediate track at Texas when the No. 22 car finished fourth in the All-Star Race. Logano looks fast again this weekend. Logano posted the fourth-fastest speed in practice and qualified second for the race. Logano should run up front, score a lot of Stage Points and have a good chance to win Sunday.
WILLIAM BYRON (5): Byron got off to a hot start in the 2022 playoffs. Byron finished 8th at Darlington, 6th at Kansas and 3rd last week at Bristol. He had the fourth-best car at Texas in the All-Star Race. The No. 24 car qualified 3rd and ran most of the race up front. Byron finished 2nd in this race last year. I will have the No. 24 car in my lineup and hope he can finish in the top-five again Sunday.
TYLER REDDICK (4): Reddick has been the best on the road courses and races where a driver can run the wall, but he has been decent on the intermediate tracks too. An argument can be made that Reddick had the best car at Kansas two weeks ago. The No. 8 car looks fast again this week. Reddick posted the second-fastest speed in practice and qualified fourth for the race. He should score well Sunday in your Fantasy Live lineup.
DENNY HAMLIN (3): I am quickly running out of allocations with Hamlin, but I am not worried about it. I will fade him at the Charlotte Roval and Talladega and consider him for Homestead and Martinsville. The No. 11 car is running too well to fade. Hamlin finished second in both intermediate tracks in the first round of the plays (Darlington and Kansas) and he finished second at Texas in the All-Star Race. Hamlin should have a great chance to finish in the top-five Sunday.
KYLE LARSON (3): Larson was a beast at Texas last year. He won the All-Star Race and then won the playoff race at Texas too. So how fast will Larson be in Sunday’s race? The No. 5 car posted the 10th-fastest speed in practice and qualified ninth for the race. Larson should run up front, score a lot of Stage Points and be one of the best picks for your Fantasy Live lineup.
GARAGE DRIVER ALEX BWOMAN (5): Can Bowman continue his hot run in the 2022 playoffs at Texas? Bowman finished 10th at Darlington and then he dominated the race at Kansas by leading 107 laps and finishing 4th. The No. 48 car posted the third-fastest speed in practice and qualified 17th for the race. Bowman should have the speed to finish in the top-10 Sunday.
Fantasy Live has a new Bonus Picks section this year. Instead of selecting the winning team or manufacturer, we will earn 10 bonus points for selecting the driver who finishes the best in a Head-to-Head matchup. Here are my picks for the matchups…
CHRIS BUESCHER vs. RYAN BLANEY (My Pick: RYAN BLANEY)
CHASE ELLIOTT vs. JOEY LOGANO (My pick is JOEY LOGANO)
KYLE LARSON vs. ROSS CHASTAIN (My pick is KYLE LARSON)
DENNY HAMLIN vs. CHRISTOPHER BELL (My pick is DENNY HAMLIN)
Good luck and be sure to follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR. I will send out a Tweet during the race to let you know if I plan to swap out one of my drivers for my Garage pick.
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