FORT WORTH, TX – The favorites for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the Texas Motor Speedway could struggle. Kyle Busch has just two top five finishes all season and hasn’t won since June 2. He wasn’t in the top 10 in any metric in practice on Friday. His teammate Martin Truex Jr. has already won in this round and may forego speed in Texas to work on a Homestead setup. Joey Logano has two top five finishes in his last 18 starts on the season and didn’t show much speed in terms of long run or short run pace in Friday’s practice sessions. Chase Elliott hasn’t scored a top five in any of his last five Texas starts and like Logano didn’t show much speed in practice. Kyle Larson doesn’t have good short run speed but has decent long run pace as showed in practice on Friday. But, he finished last at Texas back in March and has six finishes of 23rd or worse on the 1.5-mile track.
15 of the 17 race winners at Texas have come from a top 10 starting spot. None of those drivers will roll off inside of the top 5 Rows on Sunday.
Those are most of the favorites. So, who other than Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick can win? It opens up a door for a sleeper winner.
Ryan Blaney finished second in this race last year and has three top six finishes in his last four Texas starts. He has good long run speed in his No. 12 Ford.
Erik Jones has finished fourth at Texas in each of his last three Cup starts and was in the top four in all five of his XFINITY Series races at Texas. He was fifth and ninth respectively on single lap speed, fourth and eight on the five lap chart and seventh on 10 lap averages. He rolls off second.
Kurt Busch was second and fifth on single lap speeds, ninth and seventh on five lap, fourth and fifth on 10 lap and 15 lap respectively. He also has two straight top six finishes on the season and five straight top 10’s at Texas. He starts fourth.
Clint Bowyer was second back in March and ninth last Fall but was first and third on short run speed, second and third on five laps, first in both 10 lap charts and third and first on the 15 lap averages. He has the best car.
Aric Almirola was seventh in the spring race, eighth in last year’s race and was sixth and first respectively on single lap speeds. He also was fifth and second (5 lap), sixth and fifth ( 10 lap) and second and third (15 lap) respectively too. He starts sixth.
William Byron may not have had a ton of speed on Friday but he does have four top seven finishes in his last seven starts on the season including a runner-up last Sunday in Martinsville. He also has two top 10 finishes in his last three Texas Cup starts as well.