Coming off last weekend’s antics at Martinsville Speedway, will drivers change how they race after Matt Kenseth’s two-race suspension? Only time will tell, but despite the headlines surrounding Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth, we have a race that will happen at Texas Motor Speedway.
Brad Keselowski paced the first practice of the afternoon and also dominated qualifying, winning all three rounds and the pole for Sunday afternoon’s AAA Texas 500.
“I’m pumped about this race,” Keselowski said. “Track position is important everywhere, and here isn’t as much as maybe a few others, because the track wears out, and you see some comers and goers with the way the track wears out — but we will still take it.” (NASCAR.com)
The tire wear was prevalent in the Truck Series race on Friday evening. Erik Jones won the race, extending his championship lead. After about 20 laps, the grip on tires fell off significantly, and drivers were begging for grip.
Kevin Harvick was second-fastest in practice and qualified second in his No. 4. Kyle Busch and Joey Logano will roll off third and fourth, respectively, with other Chasers starting seventh (Kurt Busch), 13th (Carl Edwards), 18th (Jeff Gordon) and 23rd (Martin Truex Jr.).
Keselowski, Logano, Busch and Edwards all sit below the cutline for the next round coming into this race. With the Chase drivers putting up consistent results as they have throughout the playoffs, those four drivers will most likely have to win a race at Texas or Phoenix (next weekend) to vault themselves into the championship round. However, with Kevin Harvick’s track record at Phoenix, everybody wants to get a win this weekend to not worry about anything next weekend.
A driver to watch will be the young Jones. The teenager, who is on the verge of winning his first career championship in the Truck Series, is pulling triple duty this weekend at Trucks, Xfinity and Cup. He is subbing for the suspended Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Jones is off to a pretty good start, winning the WinStar 350 and qualifying sixth for Sunday’s Cup race.
Now that Gordon has already advanced himself into the championship round, he can relax, but also go for wins with nothing to worry about. Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, has five career wins at this track, including a win over Harvick last season. Johnson is well overdue for a win, and this weekend could very well be his sixth win in the Lone-Star State for the No. 48 car.
Danica Patrick was also penalized for last weekend’s shenanigans involving David Gilliland at Martinsville. She will be a driver to keep an eye out for on the track this weekend.
I think Keselowski and Team Penske have the cars to beat this weekend. But the question is, will bad luck hit them at the wrong time, will they make a mistake or will somebody else get their car dialed in as the track changes? I think Keselowski gets the win this weekend, vaulting himself into the final four at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The AAA Texas 500 will be at 1:30 p.m. on NBCSN and PRN radio.