2018 NASCAR Preview: Week 34 – Texas

Fast times and high pressure..

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Joey Logano secured a berth into the Championship Race at Homestead in a few weeks, leaving room for three more drivers to get in.  The Big 3 haven’t won yet, and it looks as if one — if not more — will be left on the outside looking in.  The competition is fierce from the rest of the Round of 8 participants, and even so beyond those borders.  Speeds and tensions will be high, the last time this season before heading to Phoenix next week.

Here’s what to look for:

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Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Accelsla/Carlisle Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney put down one of the fastest Qualifying times we’ve ever witnessed, averaging over 200 mph.  Blaney was dislodged from the Playoffs after Kansas, but starts in front of everyone else looking to hoist the Cup.  His average finish is just 21.3 here, nothing to write home about, but he’s been trending upward since his 2nd race here.  His last four have been 12th, 12th, 6th, and 5th.  That’s the direction you want to be moving.

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Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil Delvac 1 Ford, talks to teammate Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Spirals Ford, in the garage during practice. (Photo Credit: Josh Hedges | Getty Images)

Clint Bowyer is the highest ranked Playoff contender on the starting grid, outside Pole for the Emporia, KS native.  He carries a 15.8 average at Texas, middle of the road for him.  Eleven Top 10s in 25 starts, Bowyer finished 9th here in the Spring.

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The No. 18 M&M’s Toyota sits in the garage during practice. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images)

Kyle Busch was Best in Texas back in April and starts 10th tomorrow.  He, unlike the previous two on this list, has multiple Wins here, and also had a streak of five straight Top 5s from 2014 to 2016.

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FORT WORTH, TX – NOVEMBER 05: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick is on a similar streak now, eight straight Top 10s including the 2017 Fall Win.  It seems like he’s won a bunch more here, but that is his sole Fort Worth victory.  Harvick launches from P3 on Sunday.

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Aric Almirola will start fourth in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford (Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Aric Almirola might very well slip under the radar again.  Don’t forget about the #10, fastest in Saturday’s early Practice, and starting in the Top 4 on Sunday among teammates.  His average is 20.6, but this season has been anything but ‘average’ for The Cuban Missile.  Looks for him to keep #Almirolling at Texas.

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FORT WORTH, TX – NOVEMBER 05: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, lead the field past the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Coverage of the race starts on NBCSN at 3:00pm, green flag scheduled for 3:16pm.  (Don’t forget to set your clocks back!)

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