2018 NASCAR Preview: Week 7 – Texas

Come sit for a spell and cool your heels..

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A week off for Easter and we’re back to racing action in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.  With the most recent race at Martinsville, and next week at NASCAR’s version of a bull ring, we’ve got one of those intermediates sandwiched right between two short tracks.  To Fort Worth we go and the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, taking place on a 1.5-mile quad-oval, similar in layout to Atlanta.  The Series returns to this track late in the season, Week 34 (of 36), so a good run here tomorrow could mean “Championship Possibilities” in November.

Here’s what to look for:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 - Qualifying

FORT WORTH, TX – APRIL 06: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, poses with the Busch Pole Award after qualifying on the pole for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 6, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

-With a lightning strike in close proximity to the track, rather than wait the appropriate length of safety time (per protocol), Qualifying was called after one round.  Kurt Busch was awarded the Pole after laying down the quickest lap.  He was also fastest in Practice, and chances are he would’ve been on the front row anyways.  The Elder Busch finished 10th and 9th here last year, respectively.  (And I still don’t know how Kurt Busch hasn’t been directly sponsored by Busch Beer.)

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Kevin Harvick enters pit road as he comes out of Turn 4 during a practice session for a NASCAR cup series auto race in Fort Worth, Texas, Friday, April 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Larry Papke)

-Kevin Harvick was quick in Practice, too, and will be slotted Outside Pole.  He’s been on a tear all year (one of those victories was Atlanta), but this is one of the tracks to really watch him at.  Happy did a “little” better than his Stewart-Haas teammate in 2017; finished 4th and 1st in the Spring-Fall combo, and netted himself 103 points between them, wow!

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Ryan Blaney (and his since-shaved mustache) in the media center at Texas Motor Speedway during a recent test session. 01/10/2018

-Ryan Blaney piled on the points last year as well, 87 for him and 3rd best on the circuit.  Things were looking great for him in this race last year, leading 148 laps to Stages 1 and Stage 2 victories.  He’d ultimately end up 12th, and then 6th in the Fall.  Getting closer..  He starts 4th on Sunday, looking to finish just a little bit better.  

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April 09, 2017 – Ft. Worth, Texas, USA: Jimmie Johnson (48) wins the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas. (Logan T Arce ASP Inc)

-Jimmie Johnson sports 7 Wins in 29 attempts, and an 8.8 average finish.  He is the defending champion of this race, and if there’s ever one to win, Texas is it.

Not pictured: A HAT AND GUNS FOR THE WINNER.  Everything’s Bigger in Texas!

NASCAR Tire Testing Auto Racing

Chase Elliott talks about NASCAR tire tests at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (Brad Loper/Star-Telegram via AP)

-Chase Elliott has only been in NASCAR’s top series for 2 years, but he has the best average finish of any driver in Texas: 6.5 with 4 Top 10s in 4 attempts.  He’s got an average start of 20.5, and what do you know, he starts 20th on Sunday.  Despite that, look for another Top 10 from the young driver of the #9 Chevy.

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Start of the 2017 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500

Coverage of the race starts on FS1 at 2:00pm, green flag scheduled for 2:10pm.

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