The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the second race of the year at the fast, mile-and-a-half oval. Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 is also the 10th race of 2018 that will be held at a 1.5-mile track, and it is the second race in the Round of 8 of the playoffs.
The first race of the round was last weekend at Martinsville, and as is often the case at short tracks, there was some excitement and some controversy by the time the checkered flag waved. Joey Logano knocked Martin Truex Jr. out of the way to pick up the win and secure a spot in the title race at Homestead, and whether you think the move was fair or foul, I have to put the blame on Truex.
I get it. He’s ticked that he raced Logano clean for multiple laps to complete the pass, only to have Logano ram him out of the way in the next corner. Most drivers expect to be raced the same way the race others, but Logano doesn’t abide by this code. He never has, and he never will, but Truex should already know this.
There is a reason that about half the garage has wanted to strangle this guy at some point over the years. He’s going to run you over, and he doesn’t care. Heck, he once moved Mark Martin out of the way for a win. He’s had tons of money backing him for his whole career, so he doesn’t need to worry about what other people think of him. I just don’t understand why every driver doesn’t return the favor.
In Truex’s case, he should have knocked Logano up and out of the way as soon as he got to his back bumper. If more drivers had the guts to do what Matt Kenseth did to Logano, he might actually change his style. Until then, he’s going to keep dumping guys whenever it benefits him and not think twice about it.
Back to this weekend’s race at Texas. The 1.5-mile tracks aren’t known to produce many surprises, and if you at the top scorers at the mile-and-a-half tracks this year, you will see one big name after the next. Needless to say, this is another week when you will want to load up your lineups with studs if you have the starts to spare in the Driver Group Game, and you will want plenty of exposure to the Big 3 at Fantasy Live.
1. Kyle Busch, M&M’s
Busch led 116 laps and won at Texas in the spring, and he is the only driver to finish in the Top 10 in all nine races at 1.5-mile tracks this season. His 3.9 average finish in those races is the best in the series, and he has scored 51 more points than any other driver.
2. Kevin Harvick, Jimmy Johns / Busch Beer
A couple of crashes and a pit road penalty at Kansas bring down his average finish a bit at the 1.5-mile tracks this year, but Harvick has won three of the nine races while leading a series-best 690 laps. He also has eight straight Top 10s at Texas, winning the fall race last year and leading 87 laps and finishing second here in the spring.
3. Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row
Truex has been a consistent force at the mile-and-a-half tracks this season, and he leads all drivers with eight Top 5s in the nine races. He did crash out early at Texas back in the spring, but he had led 40-plus laps in his previous four starts at the track, leading 107 laps and finishing second last fall.
4. Kyle Larson, CreditOne / DC Solar
He has been solid at the 1.5-mile ovals all year, and Larson seems to be getting better. He has eight Top 10s in the nine races at mile-and-a-half tracks, and he has finished in the Top 3 in three of the last four. Larson also led 74 laps at Texas last fall before crashing out late in the race.
5. Joey Logano, Shell-Pennzoil
The pressure is off after his win at Martinsville, and Logano should keep the momentum going this weekend. He has eight Top 10s in his last 10 starts at Texas, and he has eight Top 10s in the nine races at 1.5-mile ovals this season. Logano should be one of the safest picks this weekend.