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Nine drivers to watch for the 2013 AAA Texas 500

Updated on August 31, 2014
Jimmie Johnson won this race a year ago while Harvick has only three races left before leaving RCR
Jimmie Johnson won this race a year ago while Harvick has only three races left before leaving RCR | Source
Hamlin is a two time winner in the last ten Texas races
Hamlin is a two time winner in the last ten Texas races | Source

The key number this week in NASCAR's Chase is 41. It's the number of points Brad Keselowski gained over the final three races last year; he entered Texas two points behind Jimmie Johnson. By the time the checkered flag flew at Homestead, he was 39 points ahead of second place finisher Clint Bowyer. So any of the drivers in the top five still have a realistic shot at a Sprint Cup title coming into the Lone Star State. However, it's going to take a major mistake for Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch to catch Johnson or Matt Kenseth (who are tied for the lead, 27 points ahead of Gordon). The bad news for them? Kenseth and Johnson are among the clear favorites this weekend.


Before going any further, a quick note. We'll be looking at the statistics over the past ten races, all courtesy of racing-reference.com. Going any further back takes us into fourth generation cars and a completely different race environment in terms of competition on the track. We're also in no way advocating gambling in any way shape or form. These odds are purely for informational purposes only. Will the Chase leaders effectively eliminate their competition this weekend or will circumstances draw the pack closer together? Let's take a look.

Will Kenseth be doing donuts for an eighth time this season after this week's race?
Will Kenseth be doing donuts for an eighth time this season after this week's race? | Source

The Favorites:

Driver: Matt Kenseth

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Odds of Winning: 4-1

With seven wins already in 2013, Kenseth is having his most successful season. Now he comes to a track where he's finished in the top five in seven of the last ten races including a win. His average finish of 6.5 during that time is second-best among active drivers and is a full six spots ahead of his average start. When the engines have held up, Toyota has been dominant at the intermediate tracks this season. Moreover, he's only going to benefit from his teammates as both Hamlin and Busch have excellent records at the track. Kenseth is the favorite for win #8 this weekend in Texas.


Driver: Jimmie Johnson

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Odds of Winning: 6-1

Johnson had a two point lead at this point in the season a year ago and saw it become a 40 point deficit over the last three races. So the #48 team has all the motivation they're going to need. Like Kenseth, Johnson has a win here (in this race a year ago) to go with his seven top ten finishes over the last ten Texas events. His average finish of 9.7 is the third-highest and he's led over 11% of the scheduled laps during that time frame. A win here would make up for the “disappointment” of finishing behind Kenseth a week ago at Martinsville.


Driver: Kyle Busch

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Odds of Winning: 15-1

No one has led a higher percentage of laps at Texas than Busch (16.22%) and he'll be looking to run up once again. He has a win and three top fives to go along with a pole start at the track. The Gibbs drivers all have excellent records at the track in addition to their Toyota power. If Busch is to make a serious push at the title, he needs to start cutting into his deficit to the leaders. He'll need some help to still be a factor at Homestead but a win certainly wouldn't hurt.

Busch saw Bubba Wallace win his first race in a KBM truck a week ago
Busch saw Bubba Wallace win his first race in a KBM truck a week ago | Source
No one has a better average finish over the last ten Texas races than Greg Biffle
No one has a better average finish over the last ten Texas races than Greg Biffle | Source

The Sleepers:

Driver: Greg Biffle

Team: Roush Fenway Racing

Odds of Winning: 25-1

At 5.5, Biffle quietly has the highest average finish of any active driver at Texas. He has a win and seven top five finishes over the last ten races and has landed inside the top ten for each event. He's led over 13% of the scheduled laps which is second highest only to Busch. He's also qualified well at 9.6, ensuring that his car has the benefit of clean air without needing to resort to pit strategy. The Biff hasn't impressed in this year's Chase but he has the opportunity to show he's still among NASCAR's elite with a win this week.


Driver: Denny Hamlin

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Odds of Winning: 40-1

Were it not for Hamlin's dreadful luck in 2013, he'd be a favorite at Texas. Denny has two wins over the last nine Texas races (he missed the spring race due to his back injury) and has an average finish 11 spots higher than his average start. If he can overcome the luck factor he may yet pick up a win in 2013. The only cautionary note are his finishes; he's been off the lead lap in three of the nine events he's run- in part a product of his below-average starting position of 22.1. He'll need to qualify well this week to give himself the chance to avoid trouble at Texas.


Driver: Jeff Gordon

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Odds of Winning: 50-1

Texas is a track that's been checkers or wreckers for Gordon over the last ten races. He has a win, two pole starts and three top five finishes- yet he also has three DNFs and only five lead lap finishes during the same time frame. He's also led well over 8% of the laps, a solid number when compared to most of the field- yet he's also finished 2.5 spots behind where he's started. After breaking a long dry spell at Martinsville, Gordon has momentum on his side and the Chase leaders in his sights. More than anyone else, Jeff needs things to break his way in order to win a title; Texas will be a terrific indicator as to whether or not that can actually happen.

Gordon won a week ago at Martinsville. Can he make it two in a row this week?
Gordon won a week ago at Martinsville. Can he make it two in a row this week? | Source
Montoya's car has looked like this all too often to be a serious contender to win this week
Montoya's car has looked like this all too often to be a serious contender to win this week | Source

The Suckers Bets:

Driver: Juan Pablo Montoya

Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

Odds of Winning: 500-1

The Lone Star State has not been kind to Montoya during his NASCAR tenure. Over the last ten events, he has only one top ten finish and as many DNFs as laps led (two). His average finish is 25th and he's been on the lead lap only twice when the checkered flag flew. He'll still be aggressive in his quest to win at least one oval race before departing for IndyCar next season but it's highly unlikely to happen at Texas.


Driver: Elliott Sadler

Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

Odds of Winning: 400-1

Filling in for Brian Vickers, Sadler will be in a Cup car at Texas for the first time in a while. He's run five of the last ten events here but failed to lead a single lap during that period. His average finish of 26th is tied with Danica Patrick for the worst of any driver starting in win-capable equipment. While he's a safe bet to bring the car home (he's finished all five of the races he started), he's a somewhat worse one to win- or even finish on the lead lap (zero lead lap finishes over the five races).


Driver: Brad Keselowski

Team: Penske Racing

Odds of Winning: 300-1

Despite having a solid run at most intermediate tracks the past two years, Texas has not been kind to Keselowski. His average finish is 21.3 despite having no prior DNFs. He has only one top five and top ten finishes; those top tens were the only times over ten races that Brad finished on the lead lap. He won't be able to lean on teammate Logano either as Joey's average finish is a similar 21.7. Keselowski finished second and led 43 laps in this event a year ago so it's possible he's finally figured the track out. Starting 8th spot didn't hurt either. He'll need to qualify as well or better this year if he's going to be a factor to win on Sunday.

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Now it's your turn

Who will win the 2013 AAA Texas 500?

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    • profile image

      jeorgio 3 years ago

      I would just like to see a good

      race on one of these trace for a change :-o

    • profile image

      amazed 3 years ago

      I don't think so...

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