Race: Samsung 500
Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Date: Sunday April 6, 2008
Time: 1:30 pm E.T.
Two weekends of absolutely spectacular short-track racing leads us back to the intermediate tracks. This weekend, we’re heading to the 1.5 mile quad-oval known as Texas Motor Speedway. If history has anything to say about this type of track, we would expect a Roush driver to take the checkers here. BUT, and that’s a big BUT, Jeff Burton has been consistently strong this season and quite impressive with all of his runs. He won the spring race here last year and is the current points leader for the Sprint Cup Series. In fact, his third place finish last weekend at Martinsville probably should have been a win, but rookie Michael McDowell was basically in Burton’s way as well as several other drivers’ ways. Burton said that McDowell would learn some manners some way or another after last weekend’s performance. If Burton has anything to say about it this weekend, I dare to say that McDowell will not be an issue.
As far as Texas is concerned, it’s a great intermediate track with 24 degree banking in the turns and five degree banking on the stretches. The other winners here have been the Roush crowd of Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and Greg Biffle. Tony Stewart has taken a win as have Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne.
With everyone’s performance thus far this year, it’s difficult to say who can pull out a win, but this track is SO favorable towards those Roush drivers that it’s a safe bet to go with any of them. They’ve all been great this year and are within the top twelve in points. Jeff Burton is someone I would watch for also because of the reasons that I previously stated. I think that he has the drive this year to prove something so long as he can manage to get around the track without incident. Burton is a gentleman of a driver, but sometimes, like last weekend, he lets a win slip out of his hands because of this fact. Had Tony Stewart been behind McDowell, it would not be hard to predict that Stewart would not have had a problem getting around. He MAKES room where Burton LOOKS for room. While I applaud that kind of driving, sometimes more aggressive tactics are in order to get that win, especially when a lap down car of a rookie is the one making it difficult for you. I have to say that Burton is MUCH more patient than I am.
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As far as the Hendrick garage is concerned, although they proved last weekend that they are all still a force to be reckoned with, I would not pick one of them to win. There is still a lack of cohesion among the teammates that was there last year. As far as Jr. is concerned, he will be the first to admit that Texas has never been and most likely never will be a great track for him. He always has some sort of misfortune here although I would love to see him perform better. Gordon and Johnson are strong drivers, but they are not strong enough to take this race. Jimmie Johnson may have won it last fall, but he is nowhere near the caliber that he was this time last year. They may all pull out top fives and top tens, but I would not put money on any of them to take a win.
My final decision is Burton. That’s it. He’s got the car, the team, and the experience to push an RCR car in front of the freight train that is Jack Roush racing. Look for Burton to win. If he does not, it will most likely be any one of the three Roush drivers. I’d put Edwards over Kenseth and Biffle last in that pack if I had to choose, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see any of them in victory lane.