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Sarah’s Weekly Picks: Texas Edition

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is headed to Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 and our Sarah Handy breaks down her picks and who you may want to pay attention to this weekend.

Top Picks:

Kyle Busch: With no finishes outside the top three since a seventh-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing is bound to find victory lane sooner rather than later.

Busch has shown speed and the fact he can run up front early on this season having led 233 laps over six events.

With only two Cup wins at Texas I still am leaving Rowdy in my top picks because I feel he will be a real threat for the victory on Sunday.

Busch has plenty of success at the track and this includes the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Busch has an astounding 8 NXS wins including five in a row from April 2008 to April 2010 (includes spring and fall races).

However, Busch’s last MENCS win at 1.5-mile track came in April of 2016 where he led 34 laps and swept the weekend after winning the NXS race the previous day.

While his average finish is 14.8, I’m not putting much thought into this statistic because he’s been very consistent in 2018 thus far. Look for Busch to spend most of his day in the top-5 or leading the race.

Jimmie Johnson: The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is a driver you can never count out at Texas. Johnson leads all active drivers with 7 wins at the 1.5-mile track.

Johnson has won six of his last eleven starts at the track including the Spring race last April after leading only 18 laps for his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of 2017.

The 7-time Champion is no stranger to success at Texas and that’s why he should be a serious contender come Sunday. Even though he has struggled to start the 2018 season he has improved over the last few events.

Johnson has 7 wins to go along with 15 top-5’s, 21 top-10’s, and 1, 041 laps led with only one DNF at TMS. Sunday is the perfect time for Johnson to secure his spot in the playoffs and capture his eight win at the track.

I look for Johnson to be very strong at Texas because of experience and past success there. If he doesn’t win, I at least see him leaving with a top-10 finish, but many are wondering if this will be the week that the 48 team gets their winning mojo back.

Dark Horses:

Ryan Blaney: With only six starts at Texas, Blaney has seemed to improve each time the MENCS has come to the 1.5-mile track.

Last Spring Blaney finished in the 12th position after starting 2nd but would improve his finish by six positions to finish 6th in the November race.

While his average finish at TMS is 24.00, the 24-year old could surprise the field and walk away with a decent finish.

In 2018 through six events the driver of the No. 12 Ford Fusion for Penske Racing has 2 top-5’s, 4 top-10’s, 1 pole and has led for 264 laps.

Brad Keselowski: The No. 2 Ford Fusion driver for Penske Racing has finished in the top-10 in five of his last seven starts at TMS including finishes of 6th and 5th in both events held at the 1.5-mile track last season.

While Keselowski is still searching for his first win at Texas he has been running very consistently. In six events in 2018 so far he has two top-5’s and four top-10 finishes.

It will only be a matter of time before the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion finds victory lane and while TMS could be a long shot having never won there before we all know in racing anything can happen.

Who to Watch:

Kevin Harvick: With 3 wins already this season look for Harvick to be in contention to win even more this season. The only thing that broke his chance of winning four in a row was an accident at California, but he’s looked fast each week.

In 30 starts at TMS, Harvick has one win (November 2017), but in his last seven starts he has finished no worse than tenth.

Martin Truex Jr: Truex Jr was the king of the 1.5-mile tracks last season and won at California, a two-mile track a few weeks ago. Truex Jr is someone I would keep my eye on this weekend because he has been nothing short of consistent.

The 2017 MENCS Champion is already locked into the playoffs and will be looking to rack up the win totals just like he did last season when he won eight times.

In his last six starts at Texas, Truex hasn’t finished worse ninth with finishes of eighth and second in the events held their last season.

Who do you think will win Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway? Let us know in the comments below.

The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 is set for 2pm EST on FS1 or you can listen too it on PRN.

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About Sarah Handy

Sarah Handy is a NASCAR writer. You can find her on Twitter at @SarahHandy85. A college student studying Communications/Public Relations Field and an Electronics Associate at Walmart. Sarah enjoys tweeting about racing, running, reading, puzzles, video games, and photography. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Sarah avidly follows all major New England Teams (Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins & Celtics) as well as a huge fan of what she considers her “home track” New Hampshire Motor Speedway which she attends each year.

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