NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500
Texas Motor Speedway Distance: 501 miles (334 laps)
Sunday, Nov. 6 2 p.m. ET TV: NBC, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 501 miles (334 laps)
NASCAR XFINITY Series Race: O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge
Texas Motor Speedway Distance: 300 miles (200 laps)
Saturday, Nov. 5 3:30 p.m. ET TV: NBC, 3:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Striping Technology 350
Texas Motor Speedway Distance: 220.5 miles (147 laps)
Friday, Nov. 4 8:30 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Jimmie Johnson is a run towards 7 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.
Jimmie Johnson clinched the 1st berth in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 20, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC) where he will attempt to tie NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with a record seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Johnson is the favorite to visit Victory Lane in the Lone Star State. He has won five of the past eight races at TMS, including the last four fall races.
Chase Grid Update
With the Round of 8 opener at Martinsville on the books, here’s how the Chase Grid looks heading into Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway: Jimmie Johnson (clinched Championship 4 berth with win at Martinsville), Denny Hamlin (six points above Joey Logano on the cutoff line), Matt Kenseth (+6), Kyle Busch (+4), Joey Logano (-4), Kevin Harvick (-16), Kurt Busch (-18), Carl Edwards (-32).
Dream Of 4 Over For Joe Gibbs Racing
For the majority of the season, there was a realistic possibility Joe Gibbs Racing could get all four of its drivers into the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With Jimmie Johnson’s win at Martinsville, the feat is now impossible, but JGR could still get three competitors in.
Manning the second through fourth positions, JGR’s Denny Hamlin (second), Matt Kenseth (third) and Kyle Busch (fourth) occupy the final three Championship 4 spots via points heading into Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. Carl Edwards, who wrecked at Martinsville, is 32 points below Busch on the cutoff line and essentially needs to win at Texas or Phoenix to make the Championship 4.
All four JGR drivers have strong resumes at Texas. Busch won the spring race at Texas and will try to become the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to sweep a track this season. In 21 starts at the 1.5-mile oval, he boasts two wins, 10 top fives, 11 top 10s and an 11.9 average finish. He has finished no worse than fourth in his last four races in the Lone Star State, as well as in five out of his last six contests there. His Texas average running position (10.6) and driver rating (102.9) rank third-best among active drivers.
Kenseth claims the series-best average running position at Texas (9.2) and owns the second-best driver rating (104.9) and average finish there (8.3). In 27 starts at the 1.5-mile track, he has two wins, along with 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes.
Like Busch and Kenseth, Hamlin also has two Texas wins. In 21 starts in the Lone Star State, Hamlin has also registered five top fives and 10 top 10s. He has only logged one top-10 showing (a seventh-place performance in 2013) in his last 10 Texas starts.
Edwards leads JGR drivers with three wins at TMS. He also has seven top fives, 12 top 10s and an average finish of 14.2 there in 23 starts. His 97.6 Texas driver rating ranks fourth among active drivers.
Being out of the Chase doesn’t preclude a driver from winning a race. Since the new Chase format was implemented in 2014, four of 27 races have been won by non-Chase-eligible drivers (Jimmie Johnson: Texas 2014, Texas 2015; Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Martinsville 2014, Phoenix 2015).
Four non-Chase drivers in Sunday’s race have won at Texas before: Greg Biffle (two victories), Tony Stewart (2), Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman.
Logano Looks For Second Championship 4 Appearance With Win At Texas
Joey Logano will attempt to capture his second career Championship 4 appearance with a win in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. His only victory at Texas came in the 2014 spring race. Overall, Logano also has six top fives and a 17.5 average finish at the 1.5-mile track.
The numbers don’t look great at first glance, but five of Logano’s six top-five Texas finishes have been registered in his last seven races there. The No. 22 Team Penske driver enters the Lone Star State coming off a string of consistent finishes. He has accumulated 10 top-10 finishes in the last 12 races dating back to Watkins Glen.
Harvick Going After First Texas Win
A 35-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner, Kevin Harvick has visited Victory Lane at every active track except for Sonoma, Kentucky, Pocono and Texas – the site of Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
Sitting 16 points below the cutoff line for entrance into the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Harvick could use a win. He is the only driver who has made both Championship 4 races since the current Chase format was implemented in 2014.
Harvick has come close to notching his elusive Texas win with two runner-ups and a third-place showing in his last four races at the 1.5-mile track. Overall, he claims six top fives, 15 top 10s and a 12.2 average finish in 27 starts in the Lone Star State.
Fear not Harvick fans, if he fails to triumph this weekend, he has one more shot at automatically advancing to the championship four at Phoenix, where has won five of the last six races and finished second in the one he didn’t visit Victory Lane.
Harvick’s teammate Kurt Busch, who’s 20 points below the cutoff line for advancement to the Championship 4, could also use a win. In 27 Texas starts, he has one victory, three top fives and 15 top 10s. He finished ninth in this season’s spring race at the 1.5-mile track and seventh in last year’s fall contest.
NASCAR XFINITY Series
Back At It: The NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase Recommences At Texas
Following a two-week hiatus, the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase returns to action this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Just two races remain (Texas and Phoenix) in the Round of 8 to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 and a shot at the 2016 title in Miami. Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez, Blake Koch and Justin Allgaier currently have accumulated enough points to be in the top four in the Chase standings and are in position to move on.
Erik Jones, Ryan Reed, Brendan Gaughan and Darrell Wallace Jr. are currently in Chase positions five through eight and, unless they win at Texas or Phoenix in the next two weeks or move into the top four in the Chase standings, they will be eliminated from the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase.
A win is the only thing that will guarantee one of the eight remaining Chase contenders a spot in Championship 4. Of those drivers, Erik Jones (2015) is the only one that has won at Texas Motor Speedway. Of the eight contenders, Jones also had the highest finish at Texas earlier this season when he crossed the line second.
Here are the Round of 8 drivers career average finish at Texas: Erik Jones (2.3), Elliott Sadler (12.1), Justin Allgaier (12.5), Daniel Suarez (13.3), Darrell Wallace Jr. (13.3), Ryan Reed (16.2), Brendan Gaughan (19.4) and Blake Koch (31.5).
Round Of 8: Nobody Is Safe From Elimination
None of the eight drivers are safe from elimination as the NASCAR XFINITY Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.
Why, you ask?
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, Kyle Busch, played spoiler at Kansas and edged out NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase contenders for the win. With none of the Chase drivers locked into the Championship 4, tensions will be running high over these next two weeks.
Elliott Sadler (3,039) is currently tied with second-place Daniel Suarez in the Round of 8 Chase standings following Kansas, but Sadler holds the tiebreaker of a higher-finish during the current round with his second-place finish to Suarez’s third. Sadler looks poised to make his way into the Championship 4, in his first four races of the seven-race NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase, he has posted an average finish of 3.0 – second-best among Chase drivers.
Sadler has made 17 series starts at Texas Motor Speedway posting 10 top 10s; including five top-10 finishes in his last six races at TMS.
Daniel Suarez (3,039) can not only see the Championship 4 out his windshield but also the title as he sits tied with Elliott Sadler for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase standings lead with three races remaining in the season. Suarez has been ascending in talent from the moment he stepped into one of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyotas. He leads the all Chase contenders in average finish (2.25) over the first four races of the Chase – his lowest finish thus far in the Chase has been third. Plus, he is on an eight race top 10 streak dating back to Road America in August. Suarez rolls into Texas having made only three starts at the 1.5-mile facility. Though he has struggled in the spring races, last season’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year posted his best-finish (sixth) at TMS in this event.
“(Crew Chief) Scott (Graves) and I have had some really productive meetings this week and I think we have a great game plan for the weekend (at Texas),” said Chase contender Daniel Suarez. “We are as focused as ever as a team to get a good finish and do everything we can the next two weeks to make it to the Championship 4 at Homestead.”
Blake Koch (3,032) is one of the biggest surprises in 2016. Kaulig Racing’s No. 11 Chevrolet Camaro team, led by crew chief Chris Rice, proudly stand third in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase Round of 8 following driver Blake Koch’s fourth top-10 of the season. With two races to go in the Round of 8 and a current spot in the Championship 4, Kaulig Racing is now looking to become the first single-car team to win a NASCAR XFINITY Series title in almost 18 years. The last single-car team to win a NASCAR XFINITY Series title was Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s No. 3 Chevrolet team in 1998. DEI scaled their two-car team back to a single-car team in 1998 to focus on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first series title. DEI resumed a multi-car team operation the following season. Note: The next single-car team to win a NASCAR XFINITY Series championship before 1998 was BACE Motorsports No. 74 Chevrolet team owned by William Baumgardner with driver Johnny Benson in 1995 (over 20 years ago).
Koch will be looking to echo his Kansas performance at Texas this week. Earlier this season a mid-race accident relegated the No. 11 Chevrolet team to a 34th-place finish at Texas. But the team will be looking for another solid result because Koch has posted the fourth-best average finish (11.5) among Chase contenders over the first four races of the 2016 Chase.
Justin Allgaier (3,027) is currently tied with fifth-place Erik Jones in the Round of 8 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase standings, but Allgaier holds the tiebreaker of higher-finish in the current round after he edged Jones out at Kansas with a 14th-place to Jones’s 15th-place finish. Allgaier and crew chief Jason Burdett have been riding the wave of consistency all season (24 top 10s), and their average finish of 8.0 over the first four races of the Chase have them Championship 4 bound. Expect Allgaier to post a solid finish at Texas this weekend, in five of his last seven starts at the famed 1.5-mile speedway he has posted a top-10 finish; including earlier this season where he started 23rd and finished sixth.
The Outsiders: Chase Contenders On The Verge Of Elimination
Two races remain in the Round of 8 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase making this weekend’s performance at Texas pivotal if the following four drivers want to move on to the Championship 4.
Erik Jones (3,027) has lacked consistency this season and therefore finds himself on the verge of elimination with two races to go in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. Though the Joe Gibbs Racing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate leads the Chase contenders in wins this season with four, he also leads them in DNFs with four, which now has his back against the wall for the second time in the elimination-style Chase format. Jones can’t afford a mistake over the next few weeks, but luckily for him Texas (2.3 career average finish) and Phoenix (4.0 career average finish) are some of his best tracks. Plus, Jones is the only Chase contender that has won at Texas.
“After a few weeks off, I’m really looking forward to getting to Texas this weekend and putting ourselves in position to compete for the Championship in Miami,” said Erik Jones. “Texas is a track I really enjoy and have had success in both the Truck Series and XFINITY Series. It’s a fun place, a place where we can put on a show for the fans and that makes it a lot of fun for the drivers.”
Ryan Reed (3,025) will need to find some speed in the next few races to make it into the Championship 4; his average finish of 12.0 (fifth-best among Chase contenders) won’t cut it if he wants to advance. Reed is just two points behind Allgaier and Jones along the Chase cutoff line, so moving on to the Championship 4 is definitely doable. Reed has made five series starts at Texas posting an average finish of 16.2. He posted his best-career finish at Texas (14th) earlier this season.
Brendan Gaughan (3,010) is currently seventh in the Chase standings, 17 points back from Justin Allgaier in fourth place. Following Gaughan’s dismal performance at Kansas that saw him spinning through the infield on the way to a 31st-place finish, he and the No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro team will look to Texas to rebound. Gaughan has posted an average finish of 14.8 over the first four races the seven race NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase (sixth-best among Chase contenders). Gaughan has made nine starts at Texas posting an average finish 19.4. He finished 12th at Texas in his last two starts at the 1.5-mile track.
Darrell Wallace Jr. (3,009) sits at the bottom of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase Round of 8 point standings barrel. With two races remaining in the Round of 8, Wallace is nearing a must-win situation following a DNF at Kansas. A total of 18 points separate Wallace and fourth-place Justin Allgaier just above the Chase cutoff line. Wallace has struggled the first four races of the 2016 Chase posting just one top-10 finish (Kentucky). Heading to Texas this weekend, a track Wallace has made three starts at posting one top 10 and an average finish of 13.3.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase Hits Home Stretch
Only three races remain in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase heading into Friday’s Striping Technology 350 at Texas Motor Speedway. With his win at Martinsville, Johnny Sauter captured the first berth in the Championship 4 race slated for Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 18.
Sauter is trailed on the Chase Grid by Christopher Bell (13 points above Matt Crafton on the cutoff line), Timothy Peters (+12), William Byron (+9), Matt Crafton (-9) and Ben Kennedy (-10).
Byron won at Texas in the spring and will attempt the track sweep on Friday. Crafton (spring 2014 and spring 2015) and Sauter (2012 sweep) are the only other Chase drivers who have won at Texas.
Sauter Secures Spot In Championship 4 With Win At Martinsville
Johnny Sauter led 50 laps on the way to victory in last Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway. The win was Sauter’s second of the season and the 12th of his career, but more importantly earned him a berth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 18.
“The key deal is liking a race track, and I can’t think of a better race track to decide a championship than Homestead,” Sauter said. “It’s a very racy place – you can run all over the race track. I feel like we are peaking at the right time. I feel like we’ve kind of saved some of our best bullets, so to speak, for the end, and we can go and really work hard on our Homestead piece for these next couple weeks.”
In nine career starts at Homestead, Sauter owns one win, two top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 11.7.
Byron Hopes For Texas Sweep
William Byron earned his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Kansas, but Texas Motor Speedway was really where his dream season took off. Byron pulled off a late-race pass of Matt Crafton at the 1.5-mile track and led the final five laps to secure his secure his second victory. He’d go on to win two of the next three races (Iowa and Kentucky).
On the season, he leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in wins (6), top fives (10), average running position (8.1), laps led (572) and driver rating (105.0).
One of the six drivers remaining in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase, Byron is trying to join Erik Jones as the second consecutive Kyle Busch Motorsports driver to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in the same season. Byron won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship last year in his first and only season on the circuit.
Bell Is Ringin’ Heading Toward Texas
When talking about potential NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champions, the names William Byron and Matt Crafton keep coming up. Christopher Bell’s name should be added to that list. Quietly, Bell has tallied 10 top-10 finishes in his last 12 races, including no finish worse than sixth in his last six starts. The No. 4 Toyota driver has posted the best average finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase (4.5).
Graphics & Photos Courtesy of NASCAR