It’s not much of a secret, the top drivers to beat in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 (2 p.m. ET/FS1/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is going to be Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and the Team Penske trio of drivers. That’s six drivers that could honestly finish in spots 1-6. With how the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is shaping up so far, I really can’t see anyone other than these six drivers winning the acutal race this weekend.
The favorite has to be Harvick though right?
Texas is layed out similar to Atlanta. Both are 1.5-mile tracks with doglegs and similar banking and shape. Well, Harvick led 181 laps and won there earlier this season. But, Texas is also similar now to that of Las Vegas too. Texas and Vegas are recent tracks that have been repaved and both are 1.5-miles in length. Well, Harvick led 214 of the 267 laps a month ago at Vegas and swept all three stages in the Pennzoil 400.
The two closest tracks that Texas resembles, Harvick won at each of them in dominating fashion this season.
On top of that, Harvick won the last time the Cup drivers were even at Texas. Plus, since he joined Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, he has seven top 10 finishes at Texas in eight tries, all consecutively, including five of those finishes inside of the top four. He’s also a really good qualifier on the 1.5-mile track earning seven top five starts in his last eight races there, including five of his last six resulting in a top three starting position.
We’d be foolish not to pick Harvick and his No. 4 Ford right?
Well, Truex and Busch may have something to say for it too. Lets start with Truex.
He has six straight top 10 finishes at Texas including a runner up finish to Harvick last November. He’s led 141, 66, 49 and 107 laps respectively over his last four starts there. Plus, if not for a late race crash at Daytona, Truex would have finished inside of the top five in every race this season. He brings a five race streak of consecutive top five finishes in his No. 78 Toyota with him to the Lonestar State and is actually statistically better in 2018 than he was at this point in his championship winning season of a year ago.
But, Busch is there too. He has three runner-up finishes over his last four starts on the season. His other result since the west coast swing started was a third place run in Fontana. He too has been strong at Texas lately, with seven top five finishes there in his No. 18 Toyota over his last 10 starts.
Also, if Team Penske can find the right amount of speed, they’ll contend too.
Ryan Blaney has led the second most laps all season and has four top 10 finishes this year already. He’s third in points. Joey Logano has five top seven finishes in six starts to the season in his No. 22 Ford and sits one spot behind his teammate in fourth in the standings. He’s been really strong at Texas since joining Penske too. He has eight top 10 finishes over his last 10 Texas starts. Seven of those eight top 10’s were actually top five finishes as well, including a win in 2014 and a runner-up after leading 178 laps in 2016.
Don’t count out Brad Keselowski though. He has started inside of the top 10 in 11 of his last 13 Texas starts and has eight top 10 finishes in his last 12 Texas starts. He led 312 laps and finished second in 2015.
Who’s your choice to win on Sunday?
Give me one of these six.