After returning back east, Brad Keselowski beat the heck out of The Paperclip at Martinsville. He led 446 laps, won each Stage, and took the checkers for max points. That’s two straight races in which a driver has swept each Stage en route to Victory Lane, will we see the same happen in Fort Worth today?
Here’s what to look for:
–Jimmie Johnson is back on the Pole, first time since 2016. That achievement took place at New Hampshire, but at Texas from 2012 to 2017, Johnson won six races in ten attempts. He’s currently riding a career long winless drought of 65 races; could today be his day? And we’ve gotten used to seeing a bunch of Fords up front, but this time we’ve got a Bowtie contingent. Johnson is the first of seven Chevrolets in the Top 10.
–William Byron will line up 2nd here, and he doesn’t really go with this group of proven competitors (yet), but you’ve gotta start somewhere. A rookie last season, he drove to a 10th and a 16th, outpaced by teammate Chase Elliott. Elliott (who starts 3rd) is actually the best of all drivers here with a 7.2 average finish back through 2016. Information gets shared though, and with advice / setups / strategies from that guy — and multi-time Texas winner Jimmie Johnson — Byron is in line for a solid run today.
–Kevin Harvick is the defending champion of each of the last two Fall races at Texas, but here we are in the Spring. He didn’t do so bad in this race last year either as he finished 2nd. That’s a 1.3 average finish over his last three attempts here. Nice!
–Kyle Busch was the guy that finished ahead of the #4 last Spring, already making waves early in 2019. The three races surrounding that win (the Fall, and 2017), however, are 15th or worse. Pretty uncharacteristic (his average here back through 2014 is 7.7), but that’s why they run the races. Today he’ll be up on the wheel more than usual; he’s looking to become the first driver to sweep all three events at Texas in the same weekend. Two in the bag so far, the stage is set for today.
–Erik Jones averaged a 4.0 here last year, he’ll start 11th today. Some drama early this weekend as he failed to pass pre-Qualifying inspection a number of times. That resulted in the ejection of his car chief and cost him 15 minutes of Happy Hour. Watch for That Jones Boy to be up front early and often.
Coverage of the race starts on FOX at 3:00pm, green flag scheduled for 3:16pm.