Coming off a short-track battle won by Kyle Busch last weekend at Martinsville Speedway, the NASCAR circuit heads to the lone-star state and Texas Motor Speedway for a 500-mile Texas-style showdown on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. (FOX). This isthe first night race of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Jimmie Johnson is the defending winner of the Duck Commander 500, and is the king at Texas. He not only won this race last season, but also won the fall race, sweeping the season series. He has six wins at the track in his career, most all-time in the NSCS. And guess who finished second in that race last season? You guessed it – Kevin Harvick.
The 2014 champion has zero Cup wins at Texas, but a handful of second place finishes. Coming off his first finish outside the top ten this season (17th at Martinsville after getting caught on the outside on a restart), will look to rebound this weekend.
Carl Edwards won the pole for Saturday night’s race with a speed of 194.609 MPH, his first pole of the season.
“Our car is very fast,” Edwards said in an interview with Fox Sports 1 after his qualifying run. “I really enjoy Texas. I have a lot of friends here. This is a fun place to race. I don’t know what the other guys feel, [but] the tire and downforce package for me lets me feel like I can go into the corner and move around and feel the tire underneath me. Even in qualifying, there were times when I got a little sideways, and it slid a little bit, and I could recover, and that’s really fun as a race car driver. Hopefully the race goes well.”
Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, and Austin Dillon round out the top ten starting spots. Some other notables include the aforementioned Johnson in 11th, Harvick in 22nd, Kyle Busch in 15th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 16th, and Kurt Busch in 21st spot.
Kenseth is also looking to rebound after a disappointing finish last weekend.He has been a top notch car and has led laps in almost all races this season, but bad luck has followed the No. 20 bunch wherever they go. From leading on the final lap of the Daytona 500, to the infamous miscommunication at Atlanta, to the late-race restart last weekend. Kenseth’s luck is bound to change sooner rather than later, and if he were to win this weekend, I don’t think anybody would be shocked.
His teammate, Kyle Busch is on a roll. After winning the Cup and Truck Series races last weekend, he won the Xfinity race Friday evening, to nobody’s surprise. But it’s his other teammate (kind of), Martin Truex Jr., who has been the car to beat this weekend.
Furniture Row Racing, a satellite team that has an alliance with the powerhouse that is Joe Gibbs Racing, runs a one-car operation driven by Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 78 car. He was fastest in both practice sessions at Texas this weekend and is one of the cars to beat.
The smart pick to win would be Jimmie Johnson, but I’ve picked him three times already this season. So I’ll go with Martin Truex Jr. to get another win for Toyota this weekend. Enjoy the race!