Martin Truex Jr flat out dominated the Paperclip of Martinsville Speedway, max points for him and a ticket to Homestead-Miami at season’s end. Seven other drivers are still eligible for the Championship, though none of them are a certainty. Can one of them pack their bags later today?
Here’s what to look for:
–Kevin Harvick — last year’s winner — is our polesitter today. That is horrific news for the rest of the field (though we said the same thing about Hamlin last week, and he didn’t win..) as he sports a 3.9 average finish over the last ten races here. Would you believe that in that stretch his worst finish..is 10th! Ten Top 10s since the Fall 2014 race, and he’s the most recent victor at the AAA Texas 500 — two in a row, looking for three.
–Erik Jones will start outside pole, and currently riding a streak of three straight 4th places finishes at Texas. Keeping with the theme, he is 4th among active drivers over the last ten races with a 9.3 average finish. A #20 JGR car won the Xfinity race last night, could today be the day that Jones breaks into Victory Lane in Texas?
–Chase Elliott is our 2nd best driver over the last ten races, an 8.0 for NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver. He finished 13th in this Spring’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, but his last three attempts in the Fall race are 6th, 8th, and 4th. Not a bad sample set for Chase.
–Denny Hamlin won that previously mentioned race earlier this year. He had quite the tussle with Joey Logano after the race, saying that the driver of the #22 would chalk it up to “that’s Martinsville racing!” I kinda wish Logano played along and said that immediately, but he had a pretty good canned answer. Ah well. In any event, all eyes will be on those two today, which would make Hamlin’s mission at Texas tougher. He has a 17.3 average finish over the last ten races here, and will start 3rd.
–Kyle Busch is another driver who ruffled some feathers. Losing spotlight (oh no!) to the other altercation, Rowdy left Aric Almirola feeling miffed. He has more or less vowed to make the next three weeks of Kyle Busch’s season no fun. What form will that take today, if at all? Busch is our 3rd best driver over the last ten with an 8.4 average finish, and he starts 12th today.
Coverage of the race starts on NBCSN at 3:00pm, green flag scheduled for 3:18pm.