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