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O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Predictions

Race: OíReilly Auto Parts 500
Date: Sunday April 8, 2018
Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Time: 2 pm ET

by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper,

Well, if Spring decides to come and stay, Iíll let you know. As someone who grew up in Southeastern Virginia, Iím well versed in the craziness that is the weather around here. Drivers not from around the area were probably pretty confused. Martinsville ended up being snow delayed. Now, itís been cold there before for the spring races, but snow is ridiculous. Iíve had about enough. That being said, thereís sleet predicted for my area this weekend. At least Texas is looking better.

Iím not going to brag. Well, yes I am. My middle of the road pick, Clint Bowyer, took the win, with my A list pick coming in second place, just over a second behind Bowyer. Bowyer led 215 laps with Ryan Blaney leading 145. Denny Hamlin, another Martinsville favorite, led a total of 111 laps. Both Blaney and Hamlin also won a stage, clenching an all coveted point for those wins. AJ Allmendinger, my dark horse, had a top 10 finish. Thatís not a shabby group of drivers that were picked if I do say so myself. Kevin Harvick, one of the clear favorites, finished 5th followed by Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, AJ Allmendiner, Chase Elliott, and Brad Keselowski to round out the top 10 spots.

This weekend, we are heading to a much different track. Virtually any track is different from Martinsville. Being that itís the smallest track on the circuit, drivers will be using much different strategies this weekend at a Texas. This is a big fast track. Itís a conventional 1.5-mile asphalt track with a wide groove that allows for a lot of passing throughout the race. Last year was the first year of running the race on a resurfaced Texas Motor Speedway. Banking throughout the turns is universal at 20 degrees, which was one of the changes that occurred with the repave. Also, that racing groove was widened from 60 to 80 feet. We saw some of the drivers trying to utilize the lower groove, which was never preferred here at Texas, but some were able to make it work. Overall, the high line still seemed to give the drivers the best momentum and speed across the board.

Picking a winner at Texas is not as challenging as some of the tracks, but as a lot of folks are realizing, past stats donít mean a whole lot anymore. Thereís been so many changes with teams and equipment that all drivers are being forced to find new and innovative strategies to make races work in their favor. This weekend, I saw roles are reversed from Martinsville for Kyle Busch. I know heís tired of second place, and I think Texas is going to be good to him. While this hasnít been the case recently, circumstances are the same surrounding Busch, and he wants to get that win right now. He will have a lot of contention to deal with the likes of the Penske boys, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. Hereís the full breakdown of your potential winners:

My Pick to Win: Kyle Busch. Bet YOUR pick for FREE by taking advantage of a 50% sign-up bonus up to $250 FREE at Bovada Sportsbook! (Your credit card will work there!)
Middle of the Road Pick: Clint Bowyer
Longshot Prediction: Ryan Blaney

Blaney has led laps at Texas and started on the front row. Clint Bowyer is coming off a nice celebratory week off. Martinsville is a very different track, but Bowyer has success at Texas as well. Heís showing strength with SHR and will likely continue that trend this weekend. They will both have a hard time shrugging off Kyle Busch, though. As long as Buschís team gives him something to work with and doesnít have major pit road issues, I think that Kyleís perseverance will see him through this race. Heís coming off a long streak of runner-up or third place finishes, and Iím certain he wants that to stop. Heís doing a solid job of maintaining points, sitting atop the leader board currently as a matter of fact.

Here are your current top 16 after last week's race:

1. Kyle Busch
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Ryan Blaney
4. Joey Logano
5. Brad Keselowski
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Kyle Larson
10. Kurt Busch
11. Aric Almirola
12. Erik Jones
13. Austin Dillon
14. Alex Bowman
15. Paul Menard
16. Ryan Newman

One name we arenít seeing in that top 16, which is rare form, is Jimmie Johnson. Heís currently sitting in 17th spot, followed by teammate Chase Elliott. The Hendrick garage seems to be having a hard time with the switch in cars this year. Iím not sure what it is, but those Toyotas sure have their package down to an art. Itíll be interesting through the rest of this season to see if the Chevy drivers can work with the change and create some noticeable improvements moving forward. As of right now, thereís a tremendous struggle. This weekend should be a good showcase to see if Johnson and team have anything going for them being that he is, with little exception, an excellent driver at Texas. Stay tuned this weekend as the drivers head to Texas Motor Speedway for some good fast racing! Looking for more than just standard driver to win NASCAR bets? Check out 5Dimes!

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