FORT WORTH, TX – All the preliminary action is done this weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway, it’s time to run Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 (3 p.m. ET/FOX/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
So, after all we’ve seen this weekend, who are the top drivers who can win the seventh race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season?
The start of this year has gone very similar to the start of the 2018 one. No, we don’t have three drivers dominating the show, but rather three different organizations instead.
Between them, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske have combined to win all six races in 2019. If you go back to the end of the 2018 season, they’ve actually combined to win eight in-a-row and nine of the last 10 overall.
The only car not of these two organizations to win since last November has been Kevin Harvick with Stewart-Haas Racing.
Really, it’s a Penske vs. JGR show for supremacy right now with SHR fighting behind in third.
So, when thinking of who to wager on at the Texas Motor Speedway, you can’t really go wrong with these 11 combined drivers.
That’s why the top odds all favor them for Sunday’s 334 Lap race. Kyle Busch is the favorite (+350). Harvick, is next best at +450. Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski are +700 while Joey Logano is +800.
These are the only drivers though below +1000. Would you take them, or someone else with lesser odds?
Well, after breaking down the odds and how these drivers have fared in the past at Texas, as well as this weekend, it’s clear that we may have some good odds are our disposal after all. You may want to be buyer beware on some of the top drivers on these respective organizations.
Busch, is the easy pick. I get it. He has five top three finishes in six tries in 2019. His worst finish is sixth. Over his last 12 Texas starts too, he’s finished in the top five in eight of them including a win in this very race last year. But, he’s also had three finishes of 15th or worse in his last four Texas starts as well. He was second in final practice on single lap speed but does start only 16th. Kind of steep for +350.
Harvick, has nine straight top 10 finishes in Texas including three top two finishes in-a-row. Unfortunately though, his car has played second fiddle to JGR and Penske this season. The speed isn’t quite there yet and I don’t think he has a full race of speed in his No. 4 Ford to honestly win yet. I wouldn’t touch those odds for him either. He was ninth in final practice and eighth on the 10 lap average chart. Harvick, rolls off 23rd.
Keselowski, has only scored four top five finishes since 2013 (12 starts) at Texas. Four of his last six saw him finish 12th or worse. While he does have four top three finishes in his last five starts of the season, his past Texas history scares me. He starts 12th and was 19th fastest on single lap runs in final practice.
Truex Jr. only has two top five finishes in his last eight Texas starts. He does have five straight top eight finishes on the season, but his car is missing a bit compared to his teammate Busch. He’s also been off this weekend. He only qualified 20th and was just 24th in both practice sessions and 17th on the 10 lap average chart.
Denny Hamlin has struggled at Texas too. Yes, he has three straight top seven finishes on the season and a top 11 in all six races, but since he swept both Texas races in 2010, he’s had just one top five after. He’s +2000.
So Who’s Left?
That leaves longer odds then. Logano at +800 is a solid pick. He has three top 10 finishes in his last four starts on the season to go along with six straight top seven finishes in Texas overall. Logano, starts eighth and was 12th and sixth on the 10 lap and 15 lap averages respectively.
His teammate Ryan Blaney is the best bet at +1200. He has three straight top five finishes on the season and three consecutive top six finishes in general at Texas. Blaney, finished runner-up last fall there. Also, in XFINITY Series competition, Blaney has a win, three runner-ups and a third place run in six tries. The Ohio native was third in final practice on single lap runs and fifth on the 10 lap averages. Yes, he starts 13th but he can come through the field easily.
Erik Jones is worth a risk too. He’s +1600 and has recent finishes of 29th, 19th and 30th respectively, which is why his value is low, but his Texas stats are phenomenal. He has three straight top 10 finishes including two fourth place runs a year ago. In XFINITY Series competition, he has six top four finishes in as many tries including three wins. He starts 11th after being 11th in final practice and 11th on the 10 lap average chart too.
These are three drivers, all drive for either Penske or JGR and have longer odds compared to their teammates.
Aric Almirola (+2500) is also a viable option. He has five top 10 finishes in-a-row on the season and finished eighth at Texas last fall. He drives for Stewart-Haas Racing. But, Almirola was only 21st in qualifying and 26th and 15th respectively on single lap runs. He has a good long run car with being 10th, fifth and fourth respectively on the 10 lap, 15 lap and 20 lap averages respectively.
Other Sleepers (Ganassi, Hendrick)
You can’t leave out Chase Elliott (+1100) either. He’s coming off of a runner-up finish last weekend in Martinsville and has never finished worse than 11th in six career Texas Cup starts. The Georgia native starts third and has good long run speed. He was 13th, eighth and seventh respectively on the 10, 15 and 20 lap average charts.
Jimmie Johnson had 12 top two finishes and 14 top sixes at Texas from 2006 through 2017, but his last three finishes are 27th, 35th and 15th respectively. Four of his last five finishes on the season are 17th or worse. Despite that, Johnson earned his first pole in 96 races and was fastest in all three qualifying rounds as well as practice on Friday. On the 10 lap, 15 lap and 20 lap averages in final practice, no one was better than Johnson. He’s +2800)
Kurt Busch is +2000 and has four top seven finishes in his last five tries on the year. He also has four consecutive top 10 finishes at Texas and six in his last seven starts. He was eighth and fourth respectively in practice on single lap runs but second in 10 lap, 15 lap and 20 lap averages.
Kyle Larson has yet to score a top five finish in 2019 and has just three top five finishes in 11 career starts at Texas. He has five finishes of 23rd or worse at Texas. Those could scare you, but what if I told you that Larson was third on the 10 lap, 15 lap and 20 lap averages?
Another longshot you can’t overlook is Daniel Hemric. He’s +250000 and was 11th and sixth respectively on single lap runs in practice. He was also seventh on the 10 lap average charts to go along with qualifying seventh in his No. 8 Chevrolet. Why not?
Who To Bet?