The stage is set to see who can win Sunday’s opening race of the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The question is, whom?
Non playoff drivers are 3-for-3 this postseason with Erik Jones (Darlington), Bubba Wallace (Kansas) and Chris Buescher (Bristol) all victorious in Round 1. Now, you had 6 of the last 8 combined Texas winners in Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon to that list of non championship eligible drivers with these 3 and Tyler Reddick being eliminate last Saturday night at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway.
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Do you take one of the 12 playoff drivers or the field?
4 times has a non playoff driver won this race – 2006 Tony Stewart, 2014 Jimmie Johnson, 2015 Jimmie Johnson, 2020 Kyle Busch.
Qualifying is key in the sense that 18 of the last 20 and 20 of the last 23 Texas races were won via a top 10 starter.
- 22 Logano – Front row starting spot and nine top 10 finishes in his last 11 Texas starts. On intermediate tracks, Logano has finished 4th in each of his last 2 tries including having 4 top 5’s on them this season.
- 24 Byron – 2nd last year and starts 3rd this year on a track that’s hard to pass on.
- 6 Keselowski – He has 3 straight top 10 finishes including improvement in each. He was ninth, then sixth, then fourth, then… He finished in the top 10 at Darlington a few races ago and led 109 laps last Saturday night in Bristol.
- 12 Blaney – Blaney has a top 12 finish in all but one Texas start. In fact, he has 6 top eights in his last 8 tries and the only ones that he doesn’t, he led 145 laps in spring race in 2019 before an engine problem and leading 150 laps and sweeping both stages in July 2020 before a late race fluke caution. He won the All-Star race this past spring. Larson did so last year and turned that into a Fall race win too.
- 8 Reddick – Had a top 5 going last year, starts 4th and was quickest in his group in practice.