Race: Duck Commander 500
Date: Saturday April 11, 2015
Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Time: 7:30 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
It was a nice little break for the drivers and their teams for Easter weekend, but it’s time to get back to the grind! We are coming from the short track of Martinsville to the intermediate track of Texas Motor Speedway. Denny Hamlin took the checkers in his home state of Virginia with the Penske drivers rounding out the top three spots. The Hendrick garage had a very surprisingly disappointing weekend at a track where they usually excel. The best finish from the 4 teams was Jeff Gordon in 9th place.
There will be drivers looking for redemption after Martinsville. Ryan Newman will also be one of them as his team was cited with a huge points and monetary infraction for putting pinholes in the tires to manipulate air pressures. This caused a drop for him from 6th to 26th in the points. He may have kicked himself out of contention for the Chase with that move. There are a ton of major players who are really struggling this season. We will have to see if they can make up any ground this weekend at Texas.
This track is big compared to the half-mile of Martinsville. It also has the biggest LED screen in the world, positioned in the middle of the backstretch. Although it’s a large track, it’s hard to miss the action with the kind of equipment around! This place is a 1.5 quad-oval with 24 degree banking in the turns and 5 degree banking on the straights. The frontstretch comes in at 2250 feet while the backstretch is shorter at 1330 feet. This track lends itself to the typical spread of the field that we see on the larger surfaces. Considerations of this track tend to be limited to track position simply because of that spread I mentioned. Drivers need to get up front and stay up front. Tires aren’t going to be as much of an issue like we saw at Atlanta because the surface is not nearly as worn.
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When we think about our potential winners this weekend, it’s easy to look back and say that Jimmie Johnson will win because he’s won3 of the last 6 races here; however, as I mentioned previously, the Hendrick garage isn’t performing necessarily as expected. Because of this, I’d be hard-pressed to pick him this week. That’s not to say that he won’t be competitive, but I think that we need to focus on who has been the strongest team this year. There are a lot of drivers who have performed historically well but have failed this year to live up to those standards. When it comes down to it, I’m looking hard at that Penske garage. In particular, I’m thinking that Brad Keselowski will edge out his teammate, Joey Logano, for the win. Here’s the complete rundown of your potential winners this weekend as we head into Texas:
My Pick to Win: Brad Keselowski
Middle of the Road Pick: Ryan Newman
Longshot Prediction: Ryan Blaney
Blaney could ultimately have the best finish of his season thus far because of the teamwork between Penske and the Wood Brothers team. Penske thrives at tracks like this, so the expertise altogether from that group will aid in a solid run for this kid. Ryan Newman, barring anymore penalties, should run well here. His intermediate track runs this season have been nothing short of a very solid effort. As long as the team maintains their composure despite the issues they suffered with NASCAR officials, I’d look for Newman to be in the front pack. He will need a solid finish to redeem the devastating points loss from Martinsville. Newman isn’t the only driver and team suffering this season. Let’s take a look at how the points are shaping up so far.
Here are your current top 12 after last week’s race:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Joey Logano
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Brad Keselowski
5. Kasey Kahne
6. Paul Menard
7. Denny Hamlin
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. Aric Almirola
10. Jimmie Johnson
11. Matt Kenseth
12. David Ragan
There is already a substantial points deficit between the first and twelfth positions. There is a lot of make-up that these guys are going to have to do. An interesting note is that Danica Patrick is ahead of Jeff Gordon as it stands. She rounds out the top 15 positions, while Gordon remains behind in 16th place. Let’s see how the dice roll this weekend as we head to Texas Motor Speedway. For the widest array of auto racing prop bets, check out the web’s best sportsbook: 5Dimes.