FORT WORTH, TX – I wrote at the beginning of this week how Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway could produce a sleeper winner. Yes, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske had combined to win all six races to start the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Yes, they combined to win the final two races of the 2018 season as well.
Throw in Stewart-Haas Racing in there, and you get 11 favorites.
But, if you dig deeper, maybe the favorites on those respective teams may not be so strong in the actual race this weekend.
Kyle Busch was the favorite at 4/1 but despite his win in this very race last year and six top six finishes in as many tries in 2019, he did have three finishes of 15th or worse in his last four Texas starts. He led a race high 66 laps on Sunday but finished 10th.
The second best odds went to Brad Keselowski (5/1). He came off of a dominating win last weekend in Martinsville to where he led 446 of 500 laps. But, Keselowski has also struggled at Texas as of late too. He only scored one top five finish in his last seven Texas starts and now has five finishes outside of the top 10 in that time frame. He’d have a part failure and finish 36th.
Kevin Harvick was next best at 7/1 but despite three straight top two finishes heading into this weekend at Texas, he just hasn’t had the speed in his No. 4 Ford to contend for wins yet in 2019. He leaves this weekend with another top 10, but not a top five. He’s scored just one of those in the last month. Harvick, was upset with how this weekend went as he scored zero stage points and failed to lead a single lap.
Martin Truex Jr. was (9/1) but he hasn’t been as strong lately at Texas. He has only scored two top five finishes in his last four years. This weekend, he was 24th in both practice sessions and qualified only 20th. He’d finish 12th.
See, it left the door open for others. Five drivers had odds lower than 10/1 and all failed to score a top five.
Joey Logano was 7/1 and was a solid pick but a parts failure on his hood forced him to a 17th place finish. His teammate Ryan Blaney was a solid pick too but a parts failure on his car forced him to a 37th place finish.
Busch, Logano and Blaney should have finished 1-2-3 but all three were hit with bad luck.
So, another JGR driver won. Three other SHR drivers capitalized too. So did a couple of Hendrick Motorsports drivers. Combined, the top seven finishers had 20/1 odds or higher to win. That’s a good pay out.
Hamlin, a JGR driver, was 20/1 heading into this weekend’s race. He’d win it outright. Second place finisher Clint Bowyer was 25/1. Third place finisher was Daniel Suarez. He was 67/1.
All three were unlikely too.
Hamlin and Bowyer each only had one top five finish since 2011 in Texas. Suarez, had never scored a top 10 finish on the track before. They leave 1-2-3 respectively.
Jones, was 25/1 and finished fourth for a third straight race at Texas.
Jimmie Johnson and his teammate William Byron were 30/1 and 125/1 this weekend. Both combined to lead 75 laps on Sunday.
Almirola, had one top 10 finish at Texas entering this weekend and he finished seventh at 25/1.
If you could predict this, then you’re much richer.