NRA 500 Picks

Race: NRA 500 Picks
Date: Saturday April 13, 2013
Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Time: 7:30 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Racing Handicapper

And as predicted, Jimmie Johnson takes the win at Martinsville! It was definitely a great race, with quite a few cautions. We also got a taste of just how important tires are at this short track! There were several drivers who suffered from tire troubles. Some of the drivers fared well, though. Johnson had a solid run throughout the day, earning his win. Teammate Jeff Gordon also had a much-needed solid day. Also, I’m going to throw an honorable mention out to Danica Patrick. She came back from an early race spin to finish in 12th spot. Not only did she finish 12th, but she finished 12th while competing for a top 10 spot. For someone who has struggled since Daytona, she did great for her first time at Martinsville.

This weekend, we are heading to Texas Motor Speedway. This is going to be an exciting night race at a very fast track. This track is a 1.5 mile oval with 24 degree banking in the turns. The frontstretch is 2250 feet and the backstretch is 1330 feet, with both straightaways boasting 5 degree banking. This track is similar to Charlotte and Atlanta.
When it comes to issues with this particular track, we have to talk about track position. It is extremely important to get up front early and stay there. Because of the speed along with the length of the track, getting lapped is easier, but getting back that lap is much harder. Pit strategy is going to play a large role here, with guys working against fuel mileage too. It’s going to be pretty interesting to see how strategy plays into the day, but I think there are going to be several different strategies going throughout the race.

There are quite a few notable drivers here. Jimmie Johnson won the last Texas race. Shocking, I know. Prior to Johnson, Greg Biffle won last spring’s race here. If we take an overall look at records here, though, there’s one driver who seems to have this place figured out more than the rest. Matt Kenseth has the most top 5 finishes, the most top 10 finishes, the best average finish (8.7), and has led the most laps (756). That is pretty impressive. Although he doesn’t have the most wins here, he is going to be the one to watch this weekend. Kenseth is my pick to win. I do believe that we are going to see some strong runs from Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson, but I think that this is the place for Kenseth to shine again this year. Here’s the rundown for my picks for Texas:

Winner: Matt Kenseth
Middle of the Road Pick: Carl Edwards
Dark Horse: Jeff Burton

Edwards had a far from stellar season in 2012, but he’s hoping to still turn that around this year. He holds the record for most wins here (3), so don’t count him out if he can keep his act together. Jeff Burton is usually strong at this track, but he seems to have faded over the last few years along with some of the other “veteran” drivers on the track these days.
If you are wondering about the points situation following Martinsville, you should keep reading. There were definitely some huge changes after the short track wreaked its havoc on Sunday. Here’s the rundown for your current top 12 in the points after Martinsville:

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Kyle Busch
5. Kasey Kahne
6. Greg Biffle
7. Carl Edwards
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Paul Menard
10. Matt Kenseth
11. Joey Logano
12. Jeff Gordon

The biggest mover was Gordon, moving up 6 spots into the top 12. Jr. noticeably fell 2 spots out of the lead, relinquishing it to none other than Jimmie Johnson. I think that there will still be some big adjustments after the race this weekend at Texas. Stay tuned for another great race, this time under the lights!