AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 Race Preview: Texas Motor Speedway Showdown

by | Last updated Apr 12, 2024 | nascar

Race: AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

Date: Sunday, April 14, 2024

Track: Texas Motor Speedway

Time: 3:30pm ET

Channel: FS1

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What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?

Well, we all knew that Hendrick Motorsports has amazing success at Martinsville, but I William Byron took it to the next level for the organization this past weekend by taking the win and giving HMS its 29th victory at the track. This is a NASCAR record for the most wins at any single track by an organization. For Byron, this was his 2nd win at Martinsville, 3rd win of the season, and 13th Cup career win. I’d say that he’s on to something this season. For his team, pit strategy won the race. It didn’t hurt that there was a late race caution for John H. Nemechek on lap 398 of 400. That was precisely what the team needed in order to surge ahead in overtime. Denny Hamlin had to lead prior to this situation, but after pitting, he could never get back to a position better than fourth. Kyle Larson was very complimentary of his teammate, despite not winning after leading the first 80 laps and first stage. He came home a very respectable third place. Chase Elliott, another HMS driver, bumped Byron on the overtime restart, but Byron overcame the bump, and Elliott slipped to third when all was said and done.

The results were unprecedented, as this was also the first time that an organization had swept the podium at Martinsville. With Byron, Larson, and Elliott sweeping 1-2-3, it was certainly a memorable moment for the entire HMS team, which is celebrating 40 years this year. It’s really a tremendous feat when you think about it and truly shows the strength of the entire organization. Alex Bowman, the fourth Hendrick driver, came home a very respectable 8th place. They represented Chevy well in the top 10, especially since they were the only Chevy drivers in the top 13 spots. Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top 5 spots. Logano came home 6th, with Reddick, Bowman, Preece, and Briscoe finishing out the top 10 spots. Denny Hamlin ended up a disappointing 11th after being at the front of the pack, but again, pit strategy was key here. Erik Jones brought home a 12th place finish followed by Todd Gilliland in 13th. Those are some great finishes for both of those teams. Gilliland is quietly coming around. Keep your eyes on that guy.

Where Are We Headed This Weekend?

This weekend, we are moving away from the short tracks and out of Virginia to head to the great state of Texas! These guys are going to battle it out on an intermediate track This place is a very traditional intermediate track. It’s a 1.5-mile asphalt oval with 20 degrees of banking in turns 1 and 2 and 24 degrees of banking in 3 and 4. The frontstretch and backstretch have a minimal 5 degrees of banking. Texas is all about track position and speed. It’s very easy for these drivers to get out front and stay out front. Long green flag runs are common, and as we saw, pit stops are going to play a role. Primarily, it will be important for drivers to make zero mistakes. Speeding or anything else that will cause a drive through penalty will cost these drivers significant time that is entirely too hard to make up on a track this large. It’s unlikely a driver can make up a lap and even less likely due to long green flag runs. Texas can be challenging for the sheer fact that you really can’t make up much track position throughout the race. Drivers really need to qualify well, get up front, and stay there. Clean air is everything here.

Odds and Value Picks

If history proves us right, we are likely to have another HMS driver in victory lane this weekend. That’s right! Although William Byron is never a bad choice, I think that this weekend is going to belong to Kyle Larson. He’s been up front almost every race this year. It doesn’t hurt that he’s the defending winner here either. There’s something about this track that he just gets. Larson is the king of intermediates as well. He has found a niche for running high and *almost* grazing the wall but somehow managing to maintain momentum and keep his speed through the entire racetrack in the process. I will that say both Byron and Larson have wins here recently, but I just have a gut feeling that Larson is going to own this weekend. Byron won Daytona, COTA, and Martinsville, but he hasn’t won on an intermediate yet this year. Larson won Vegas, so I think that’s going to give him the edge. It’s going to be a hard-fought battle. That’s for sure. Let’s take a look at your potential winners and their odds provided by Bovada heading into this weekend’s race:

  • Winner: Kyle Larson +400
  • Mid-Range Pick: Erik Jones +7500
  • Dark Horse: Chase Briscoe +8000


Jones is proving that he’s still someone to watch. His finish this weekend at Martinsville was strong, and he came home with a 14th-place finish at Vegas a few weeks ago. Erik averages a 16th-place finish here, but with a little luck and some more perseverance, this team will see victory lane this year. Chase Briscoe is actually another driver that’s having a good run lately. He’s got an average 10th-place finish at Texas and also has good showings on these intermediate tracks. He has a top 5 finish in his last 3 races, and I don’t put it past him to surprise us. Everyone is going to have to watch out for the Kyle Larson show, though. With HMS overall performing at the top of their game, all of these guys are going to be contenders if we’re being honest. There will be plenty chasing them, as there are many still vying for that coveted win to secure their playoff spot. Byron has plenty of wins to go around, but you bet your bottom dollar he isn’t going to slow down for anyone. Let’s see where these guys are standing in the points after Martinsville:

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Martin Truex Jr.
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. William Byron
  5. Ryan Blaney
  6. Chase Elliott
  7. Ty Gibbs
  8. Ross Chastain
  9. Tyler Reddick
  10. Alex Bowman
  11. Christopher Bell
  12. Bubba Wallace
  13. Chris Buescher
  14. Joey Logano
  15. Kyle Busch
  16. Chase Briscoe

Briscoe and Logano climbed back into the top 16 in the points after both Daniel Suarez and Brad Keselowski fell out. Kyle Busch lost a couple of spots, but Larson regained the top spot. Byron moved up several with another win, and Chase Elliott also saw a little bit of a gain this weekend. Texas really won’t give us too many surprises. I think that this is an opportunity for Keselowski to rejoin the top 16, as he performs very well at this track as well. He’s going to be someone to watch. The points likely won’t shift a whole lot, but I’ll be interested to see if HMS keeps up their streak. Stay tuned for a great Sunday afternoon of racing, Texas-style!