Race: O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Preview and Predictions to Win
Date: Sunday April 9, 2017
Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Time: 1:30 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Brad Keselowksi came away with the win this weekend, leaving many in the dust at Martinsville after a disappointing weekend for several drivers, including Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray. This is Keselowski's second win of the season, following a win at Atlanta a few weeks back. The Penske cars have something going right for them. Teammate Joey Logano has solid finishes as well, and these guys are poised to go into Texas this weekend with quite the advantage simply with the Penske horsepower that seems to come out of their garage.
Martinsville was the first race that, perhaps, showed any value to stage racing. There was a good deal of racing going on throughout the duration. The drivers in the back of the pack were fighting it out hard too. Danica Patrick and Chris Buescher managed to stay under each other's skin for most of the race, with a little AJ Allmendinger thrown in the mix. One of the better parts was when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fighting to get his lap back and raced Kyle Busch, causing Busch to lose the segment, valuable points to a driver fighting for the championship. It's never too early in the season to really grab all the points. Who knows? This might be the few extra points that Busch needs at the end of the season to pull off the big trophy and they just managed to slip him by. It's interesting to see drivers fighting so hard and competing with other drivers who are fighting for totally different reasons. I mean, Stenhouse managed to pull off a top 10 finish. That's pretty unheard of. Maybe that pressure of the stage ending helped put some fire under his *ahem* tail, just enough to push him to push Kyle Busch. Regardless, it was fun to watch.
The drivers are leaving Martinsville for a totally different configuration this weekend. We are headed back to the intermediate tracks with Texas being this weekend's challenge. The big story behind Texas this year is the repave that occurred. Unfortunately, drivers lost another nicely weathered track with quite a bit of character to it. That being said, the track is completely new to the drivers, short of practices and qualifying. The banking has changed from 24 degrees to 20 degrees in turns 3 and 4 to mirror turns 1 and 2, and the width through the turns was also expanded from 60 to 80 foot. The drivers had quite a few options of racing grooves when coming here, which now may change with no rubber and no experience on this new surface. The high line was often preferred for many, so we'll have to see what the drivers think of this newly repaved 1.5-mile asphalt track.
The history of winners here doesn't play much into effect with the implementation of the new surface. As with many of the tracks on this circuit, Jimmie Johnson holds the most wins at Texas. That being said, his performance is simply not up to par so far this year. As I said last weekend, that team has some work to do. He came home with a 15th place finish at Martinsville, a track that he's historically very good at. Coincidentally, he also holds the record for most top 5 and top 10 finishes at this track. Regardless, I'm not putting much on him again this weekend. The drivers to watch out for are primarily those Penske guys. Keselowski and Logano both have the horsepower needed at a track like this, and Keselowski has momentum coming off his win at Martinsville. I think that his teammate could edge him out, though. Logano seems to have a better handle on the intermediates at times, and I think that Texas may be his to win. He had a strong 4th place finish at Martinsville as well, so it's clear that the teams both have their acts together. One thing you can count on is that previous winner Carl Edwards is not an option as is the same with Jeff Gordon, who holds quite a bit of experience and wins at this track. Let's take a look at the predictions for this weekend:
My Pick to Win: Joey Logano
Middle of the Road Pick: Chase Elliott
Dark Horse Prediction: Erik Jones. Bet your pick using your credit card at Bovada Sportsbook and receive a 50% bonus up to $250 in FREE cash for doing so!
Erik Jones has been solid. He came away with a 12th place finish at Martinsville, which is very hard to do for the rookies on a short track. He's on point to be quite a contender in the upcoming seasons. Look for him to have a solid run this weekend at Texas. Chase Elliott is another name to watch. With overall an impressive record for his rookie season, this guy has got a win coming his way. He thrives on intermediates and will do just fine this weekend. They will both be chasing Logano, though, as Logano looks to add to his one win and six top five finishes in eight races here. His record is great. He should have no problem being a contender throughout the day. He will likely have some competition from his teammate and a few other drivers looking for those points, but Logano should be the one to beat. Let's see how his points compare to the rest of the field so far.
Here are your current top 16 after last week's race:
1. Kyle Larson
2. Chase Elliott
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Brad Keselowski
5. Joey Logano
6. Kyle Busch
7. Ryan Blaney
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Jamie McMurray
10. Kevin Harvick
11. Ryan Newman
12. Kasey Kahne
13. Erik Jones
14. Jimmie Johnson
15. Trevor Bayne
16. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin is hanging on after a poor finish at Martinsville. He's got his work cut out for him, but I think that Texas can help him redeem some much needed points. There will be plenty of other guys out for blood on Sunday, like Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Both of those guys will be giving the Penske cars a run for their money. If horsepower has any so-say, however, then Logano and Keselowski will be just fine. Stay tuned for a great afternoon of racing at Texas Motor Speedway! Bet your O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 picks for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 50% sign-up bonus at MyBookie!
O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Betting Odds to Win the Race (Odds courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook)
Martin Truex Jr
Dale Earnhardt Jr
Virginia Vroom's Picks - Most people think Danica Patrick is auto racing's most popular female. We have something to say about that! She can flat out pick'em!
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