Although it feels like we still have confetti in our hair from Daytona, the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is winding down. With just 3 races left, it appears to be a two-man battle for the championship as a consistent Carl Edwards leads a momentum-filled Tony Stewart by just 8 points. One slip by either of these competitor may not only cost them a race win, but also the championship.
The next event in this thrilling showdown is at Texas Motor Speedway. Modeled after the blueprint of Charlotte Motor Speedway, this 1.5 mile quad-oval has 24 degrees of banking in the turns and 5 degrees on the backstretch and dogleg. The racing surface is a minimum of 58 feet wide, which makes for exciting 2-and-3-wide racing. Pit road speed limit is 45mph on one of the series' narrowest pit roads. With a total estimated capacity of 191,122, TMS accommodates more fans than any other track except Indianapolis.
Here at NN, this is the home track for many of our members, such as Coviluvs24, Benracin88, Bootsy, 14Smoke, and many more.
The key for drivers in this race is equipment. The front straightaway here is over 2,200 feet long, which will be complete torment on the cars as they thunder down into Turn 1. Drivers must not only keep their engine/brakes/etc. good until the end, but still have enough power left to challenge for position in the closing laps. It makes Texas a lot like Martinsville in that way. Drivers have to conserve and be consistent.
The Fantasy favorites for this race are Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and Denny Hamlin. Biffle has been very consistent at TMS, with six consecutive top 10s, including four top 5s. Kenseth may just be the best bang for your Fantasy buck, with ten top 10s in his last 12 races, including seven top 3 finishes. Hamlin has won 2 of the past 3 Texas races, and has finished in the top two in 3 of the past 4.
Stay away from Joey Logano, David Reutimann, and Brad Keselowski. Logano has finished worse than 19th in five of his six career starts here, with two finishes outside the top 30. Reutimann isn't much better, finishing 15th or worse in six of his eight career starts. Keselowski hasn't finished better than 14th in his entire career, and has an average finish of 23rd.
BTW, here's a link to one of my favorite NASCAR statistic sites. I use it all the time, especially when making my Fantasy picks. It comes in handy when pointing out stats.
There will be only 1 practice session on Friday for the Cup sere is, which takes place at 1:00pm on ESPN2. Qualifying is a few hours later, at 4:30pm on Speed Channel. Saturday holds two more practices, at 9:30am and 11:00am, both on Speed Channel. ESPN's broadcast of the the AAA Texas 500 (334 laps/501 miles) begins at 2:00pm Sunday, with the green flag scheduled to drop at 3:16pm.
My top 5 picks: