NASCAR’s Eliminator round continues Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. It is the 2nd of three races included in the final round before the Chase for the Sprint Cup closes out the season at Homestead in Miami, FL.
Last week’s winner Jeff Gordon is safe, he does not need a win or even a Top-25 to advance, he clinched one of the four spots. Three positions remain and one driver can join Gordon with a win at Texas. Who has the right stuff to close the weekend out in Victory Lane Sunday?
Despite the tough luck that fell upon Joey Logano at Martinsville he is still widely considered a favorite for the Championship. Prior to his 37th finish last Sunday, Logano had won three straight races. His Penske race team has been firing on all cylinders. I fully expect Logano to rebound and be running up front in the closing laps at Texas. He has the best average finish here of any NASCAR driver (5th).
Kyle Busch averages just over a 5th place finish in his last 5 races at Texas, which includes a win. He also put together a three race winning streak earlier this summer, like Logano. He had a 5th place finish at Martinsville. “Rowdy” has led the 2nd most laps at Texas since 2013 with 183.
Jimmie Johnson has no shot at winning this year’s championship. That does not mean he can’t win Texas. He’s led 574 laps since 2013, most of any driver by almost triple. He has won 3 of his last 5 fall races. Go ahead and count him out, I won’t.
Kevin Harvick, last year’s Sprint Cup champion has been one of the best mile and a half performers in 2015. He has wins at Las Vegas and Phoenix (site of next week’s race). He’s tied only with Logano in Top 5 finishes this season with 20. Harvick isn’t great at Texas but he has the best average finish of any NASCAR driver at these intermediate tracks (9.1) since 2013. It shouldn’t be a struggle to see Harvick finish in the Top 5, he is currently sitting 4th in the Chase standings.
My dark horse is Brad Keselowski. Sitting in 6th place, 24 points out of that last playoff spot. This boy needs a win bad and he will do anything to get out in front on that final lap (as we saw in 2014). Keselowski is as fierce competitor as there is in NASCAR and the last guy I want to see within a bumper of the checkered flag. Of course, he has to be close to the front when the race is on the line and he’s had a few too many mistakes in recent weeks for me to believe he will be in a position to win Sunday.
My Top 10 Race Finishers in Order
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kevin Harvick
- Carl Edwards
- Joey Logano
- Kurt Busch
- Kyle Busch
- Kasey Kahne
- Denny Hamlin
- Jeff Gordon
- Martin Truex Jr