Column By: SHANE CARLSON / RPW – FORT WORTH, TX – The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is back racing this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway after NASCAR enjoyed the Easter weekend last weekend. Clint Bowyer is coming off his first win in 190 races, and continuing the success for Stewart-Haas Racing this season. SHR has claimed four wins in the season’s first six races.
Ford’s performance is off the charts this year, with both SHR and Team Penske competing for wins at the end of races and Team Penske at 3-4-5 in the standings. The intermediate race tracks proved to be Martin Truex Jr.’s personal playground last year as he used them to vault himself to his first title. So far, Truex seems to be keeping pace with where he was last year, as he won at Auto Club Speedway last month.
Another one of the storylines to watch this weekend will be Kyle Busch, and whether he can get a win to break into Victory Lane. Busch has finished second four times already this season, and has gotten outfoxed on a couple occasions. So far, he hasn’t ripped his team or let frustration get the better of him, but a man can only finish second so many times before he starts to question whether he can actually get it done again. There’s no question in my mind Busch will find the winner’s circle again, it’s just a matter of time.
Texas Motor Speedway
O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
501 miles, 334 laps
Sunday, April 8 2018
2:00 PM ET
TV: FOX SPORTS 1
Radio: Performance Racing Network
My Pick to Win is…
No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion
Over the course of the last 10 races at Texas Motor Speedway, Keselowski has seven top-10s with four top-five finishes. Winless so far in the 2018 campaign, it’s only a matter of time until he breaks through to Victory Lane. Sixth-place in the standings to date, Keselowski has produced four top-10s in six starts so far this season in a great start for Team Penske. Tough he is yet to win at Texas, Keselowski has led 480 laps in the last 10 races at the aforementioned Texas Motor Speedway, third highest behind only Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings
- Kevin Harvick: Harvick was fifth two weeks ago in Martinsville, and collected his fourth top-five in six starts. Last Race: 1
- Martin Truex Jr.: Edged Harvick by one position at Martinsville to finish fourth, and is riding a streak of five consecutive top-five finishes. Last Race: 2
- Kyle Busch: The good news: Busch leads the standings. The bad news: Busch is yet to win, but has four runner-up finishes in six starts this season. There’s a point where that starts to get under your skin. Last Race: 3
- Joey Logano: Two straight top-10s has Logano fourth in the standings. He should run well in Texas, as his average finish over the last 10 races is 8.0, second best among active drivers during that span, trailing only Brad Keselowski.
- Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finally broke the 190-race winless streak at Martinsville, and did so in commanding fashion. He was able to close the deal and continue a dominant season for the Stewart-Haas Racing stable. Don’t be surprised if he can add to the win total by the end of the season. Last Race: 9
- Brad Keselowski: Keselowski finished 10th in Martinsville, a little disappointing as the defending winner of the race. He holds the highest average finish among active drivers over the last ten races at Texas Motor Speedway, with an average of 7.7. Last Race: 5
- Ryan Blaney: One of the season’s early surprises is the performance of Blaney and the 12 team. For a new team, the transition has been seamless, as evidenced by a third-place run at Martinsville. Last Race: 6
- Denny Hamlin: A 12th-place run at one of Hamlin’s best tracks is not what the No. 11 team was looking for. Last Race: 9
- Aric Almirola: With the success of SHR teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer finding Victory Lane and Kurt Busch competing up front, all eyes turn to Almirola to get the No. 10 car’s performance on par. I don’t think he’s too far away. Last Race: 10
- Kyle Larson: Larson struggled at Martinsville, a track he’s never quite gotten a hang of as he was 16th. He’s happy to get to Texas. Last Race: 7