Note: PRN has the radio coverage of the AAA Texas 500
Stories to follow during Sunday’s running of the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Sunday’s race is the second in the Round of 8 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Joey Logano’s Martinsville win a week ago locked the Team Penske driver into the Championship 4 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. are above the cutline heading into Texas.
Win and You’re In
The four drivers below the cutline are Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola. Busch is the “closest” to the cutline at 25 behind and making up that difference without trouble for those ahead will be difficult. Winning is the avenue that will take any of the bottom quartet to Miami and that could mean some desperate moves as well as strategy.
Two weeks ago Stewart Haas Racing was the talk of the Cup Series with its dominating Talladega performance and teamwork that helped put all four of the team’s drivers in the Round of 8. But last week’s Martinsville opener did not produce the expected results for the organization and right now all but Harvick is in the danger zone on the Playoff grid. Will SHR rebound in Texas? All four drivers are starting seventh or better. Harvick is the defending race winner and posted the best 10 consecutive lap average in both practices on Saturday.
Logano vs. Truex Jr.
The fireworks that ended last week’s Martinsville race between Logano and Truex Jr. have been in the spotlight all week. Both drivers have downplayed any type of expected retaliation going forward at least at this point. But there are ways for drivers not enamored with one another to still tangle without purposeful contact or dumping. Keep an eye on the 22 and 78 Sunday just in case. Truex Jr. will have to come from the rear of the field for a second straight week this time after his team changed engines (Read More).
A Numbers Game
Ryan Blaney starts from the pole after a qualifying lap of 200.505 mph. With next year’s Cup rules significantly decreasing horsepower, Blaney may be the last driver for some time to break the 200 mph barrier. Race speeds Sunday will also be faster than anything expected in 2019 and the immediate future. But does it matter? The focus will be on the racing Sunday and drivers hanging on at such high speeds trying to race side by side for position isn’t easy. The speed will still be there but what kind of competition will it generate?
Time Running Out
Jimmie Johnson’s streak of 16 straight seasons with a Cup win is on the line with only three races remaining in the 2018 season. Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin, two other drivers who were expected to win races this season also still have not yet visited Victory Lane.