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AAA Texas 500

Race: AAA Texas 500 Preview and Picks to Win
Date: Sunday November 5, 2017
Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Time: 2 pm ET
TV: NBCSN

by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com

As predicted…again…Kyle Busch took the checkers at Martinsville Speedway, checking his box to Homestead. It was definitely an interesting race, with a major wreck messing up most of the field as the drivers were headed into the final turns and down the backstretch. The chaos created some serious issues for the Chase contenders, just when they thought that they had made it through the carnage. Eventually, NASCAR got the finishing positions straightened out, although I'm still not too sure about the placing of Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney. Regardless, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five spots.

The race ended up getting intense at the end compared to a relatively ho-hum type of Martinsville race. There was the typical bumping from drivers, but nothing compares to the issues Denny Hamlin gave to other drivers in the closing laps. Joey Logano ended up causing a late caution due to a tire rub that was caused by some pretty hard racing. After his spin-out, the restart was fiery. Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski were just a few of the drivers at the front of the pack fighting for position. Elliott and Keselowski got into each other, and Elliott moved Keselowski up the track in a typical short track move. Apparently, Denny Hamlin does not have that type of finesse. He decided to just take Elliott out and pushed him straight into the wall. Seriously. Hamlin literally just ran into the bumper of Elliott and pushed him into the wall. Now, there's a very fine line between moving a driver and wrecking a driver. Elliott showed the skill of moving a driver. Hamlin, well, he showed how to wreck someone. He played dirty pool if you ask me. In the closing laps, Hamlin ended up losing it anyway, causing a major pileup on the last lap after Kyle Busch took the win. Denny really showed a lack of class not only by wrecking Elliott but by his lack of remorse and the major wreck he caused at the end. He could use a few lessons in etiquette or at least accountability.

Heading into Texas this weekend, Hamlin will likely need to keep his bumper clear of Chase Elliott. Alan Gustafson made it clear that Hamlin's bumper has the ability to really come off the ground at this track. Do I think Elliott will do it? Naw. He's got too much class for that and too much respect for the sport. Elliott is a clean driver and will likely keep it that way this weekend at Texas. This place is vastly different than Martinsville. It's another intermediate track, so drivers have that going for them. There are no shortage of those tracks on the circuit. This track is about 20 years old. It a 1.5-mile asphalt oval with 20 degree banking through turns 1 and 2 and 24 degree banking in turns 3 and 4. The track itself has not had much modification with the exception of a couple of repaves, with the most recent happening between 2016 and 2017 seasons. This provided an extra layer of asphalt and a new drainage system. As far as this track goes, track position is everything. Drivers will have to figure out how to gain that track position and keep it here. This is a track where starting position is important as well. Starting from the front and staying there will win this race. Tires are important and will likely play a role, especially if NASCAR limits the sets like they have in the past. That has created a sense of challenge to the teams, trying to figure out how many to keep in reserves for the last restarts.

It should come as no surprise as to who could potentially win this race. Although Jimmie Johnson is the best statistical active driver coming into this weekend, his current finishes leave something to be desired. Whether it be not so great equipment or simple bad luck, Johnson hasn't found much of a leg to stand on. I'm sure that this is a place where he will absolutely be competitive, but I am banking on another driver to actually pull off the win. In fact, I think that drivers will be hard pressed to beat Martin Truex Jr. this weekend. He's been on fire on the intermediate tracks this year. He's been pretty phenomenal in the Chase as well. Nothing seems to be getting in his way, and he has some tunnel vision for that ride to Homestead. I think that he's going to do it this weekend going into Texas. Let's take a look at your potential winners heading into Sunday's race:

My Pick to Win: Martin Truex Jr.
Middle of the Road Pick: Chase Elliott
Dark Horse Prediction: Ryan Blaney. Bet YOUR pick using your credit card and get a generous 50% bonus up to $250 FREE at Bovada Sportsbook!

Blaney is nothing to sneeze at. He's proven this year that he's got quite the potential and quietly stays inside the top 15, if not the top 10, for a good portion of each of these races. He led 148 laps here at Texas this year already and should really be looking forward to this weekend. Chase Elliott has established himself as also one of the best intermediate track drivers. Although he's also had a string of bad luck, he's looking to capitalize this weekend and not only punch a ticket to Homestead but also get his first Cup Series win. They will all be chasing the almighty Truex, though. With six wins in nine races at intermediate tracks, can you really bet against him? If you do, and you happen to be right, you'll likely win a pretty penny. But chances are, Truex will spoil your hopes this weekend.

Here are your current top 8 after last week's race:

1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Kyle Busch
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Ryan Blaney
7. Denny Hamlin
8. Chase Elliott

Elliott is really in a must-win position. He's 90 points behind the leader, but more importantly, he's 34 points behind 4th place. That's not going to bode well for his championship hopes. He's only got 2 races left to get that win. This is a big weekend for him. Everyone from Johnson back really has to win one of these races. It's getting desperate now. To be honest, this is probably Johnson's biggest opportunity to secure his spot. Either way, after what we saw at Martinsville, I'm sure that we will see some seriously good racing at Texas. Stay tuned for an exciting afternoon of racing as these guys chase their ticket to Homestead this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway! Bet the AAA Texas 500 for FREE by taking advantage of HUGE 100% bonus up to $1000 FREE at MyBookie.

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