Commentary

Texas trends and notes

Updated: October 28, 2008, 4:31 PM ET
By Mark Garrow | Jayski.com

Background

• This is the 34th race of 36 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008 and the eighth race of the Chase for the Championship.
• This is the 19th of 21 intermediate-track races of the season.
• This is the 16th time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has competed at Texas Motor Speedway since 1997.
• Texas is a 1.5-mile oval and with 24-degree banking in the corners and 5-degree banking on the straightaways.
• There are 47 drivers are on the pre-entry list to compete for one of the 43 starting slots in Sunday's 334-lap, 501-mile race. Of those 47 entrants, 12 must get into Sunday's field based on qualifying times: Bill Elliott, Chad McCumbee, Ken Schrader, Joey Logano, Bryan Clauson, AJ Allmendinger, Max Papis, Brad Keselowski, Tony Raines, Marcos Ambrose, Sam Hornish Jr. and Joe Nemechek.
• Bill Elliott has access to a past champion's provisional if needed.
• These teams are NOT locked in past the next race, as the owners points change after each race:
33. Dave Blaney/Bill Davis Racing: 2,606 points, 160 points ahead of 36th
34. Robby Gordon/RGM: 2,551, +105
35. Scott Speed/Red Bull Racing: 2,526 80 points ahead of 36th

These teams/ drivers must qualify by speed but are close to the top 35:
36. Marcos Ambrose/Waltrip Racing: 2,446 points, 80 points out of 35th
37. Sam Hornish Jr./Penske Racing: 2396 -130

• Rookie Bryan Clauson will attempt to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend at Texas, as will Brad Keselowski. Joey Logano will also attempt to race the Cup Series event Sunday.
Carl Edwards won the most recent race at Texas back in April and also won the most recent Cup Series race, taking the checkered flag at Atlanta this past weekend. In the past three years, the winner of the fall Atlanta race has gone on to win at Texas the following week. Edwards accomplished this feat in 2005. In all, Edwards has seven starts here, with his two wins representing his only two top-10s at Texas.
• Atlanta runner-up Jimmie Johnson, who was also the runner-up to Edwards at TMS in the spring, has the best average finish of any active driver here with an 8.5 in 10 starts. He is also the defending winner of this race, the fall event at Texas. Johnson, along with Tony Stewart and Mark Martin, share the record for most top-10s here with eight. Johnson, Martin, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon have the most top-5s (five).
• Speaking of Gordon, Texas and Homestead are the only tracks on the Cup Series circuit where he has yet to chalk up a victory.
• Matt Kenseth is also strong here with an average finish of 10.2 in 12 starts with a win.
Greg Biffle started the Chase strong with two straight wins and continues to rank high in the points, but Texas may not be the time to count on a strong finish. Of the Chasers, Biffle has the worst average finish with a 26.1 in nine starts.
• A driver to look at, however, is Kurt Busch, who finished strong in Atlanta last weekend and has a good record at TMS. In 11 starts, he has seven top-10s, no DNFs and an average finish of 13.0.
• Of the drivers with 10 starts or more and guaranteed to make Sunday's field, Robby Gordon has the worst average finish of the active drivers (29.8). Joe Nemechek has the worst average finish of the go-or-go-homers with 10 or more finishes with a 27.0. The go-or-go-homer with the best average finish is Ken Schrader (23.2).
• The driver with the most points here over the past two races is Jimmie Johnson (365), followed closely by Kyle Busch (340). Of the past 10 races at Texas, Matt Kenseth has earned the most points (1,539) with Johnson in second (1,474).

Texas previous winners

There are 11 previous Texas winners entered this weekend with 13 victories among them:

Driver Texas wins
Jeff Burton 2: 4/97, 4/07
Carl Edwards 2: 11/05, 4/08
Greg Biffle 1: 4/05
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1: 4/00
Jimmie Johnson 1: 11/07
Kasey Kahne 1: 4/06
Matt Kenseth 1: 4/02
Mark Martin 1: 4/98
Ryan Newman 1: 3/03
Elliott Sadler 1: 4/04

Past four races at Texas

Pos Spring 2008 Fall 2007 Spring 2007 Fall 2006
1 Carl Edwards Jimmie Johnson Jeff Burton Tony Stewart
2 Jimmie Johnson Matt Kenseth Matt Kenseth Jimmie Johnson
3 Kyle Busch Martin Truex Jr. Mark Martin Kevin Harvick
4 Ryan Newman Kyle Busch Jeff Gordon Kyle Busch
5 Denny Hamlin Ryan Newman Jamie McMurray Clint Bowyer
6 Jeff Burton Jeff Burton Greg Biffle Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7 Tony Stewart Jeff Gordon Martin Truex Jr. Casey Mears
8 Mark Martin Kurt Busch Juan Pablo Montoya Kurt Busch
9 Matt Kenseth Jamie McMurray Denny Hamlin Jeff Gordon
10 Clint Bowyer Kevin Harvick David Stremme Denny Hamlin
11 Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Kurt Busch Kyle Petty
12 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Elliott Sadler Carl Edwards Matt Kenseth
13 David Ragan Scott Riggs Tony Raines Jeff Green
14 Jamie McMurray Dale Earnhardt Jr. Brian Vickers Martin Truex Jr.
15 David Gilliland Ricky Rudd Paul Menard Carl Edwards
16 Brian Vickers Bobby Labonte Clint Bowyer Bobby Labonte
17 Paul Menard J.J. Yeley Elliott Sadler Reed Sorenson
18 Travis Kvapil Kasey Kahne Joe Nemechek Joe Nemechek
19 Juan Pablo Montoya Clint Bowyer David Gilliland Tony Raines
20 Bobby Labonte Tony Raines Kasey Kahne J.J. Yeley
21 Dave Blaney Dave Blaney Dave Blaney David Gilliland
22 Casey Mears Jeremy Mayfield Johnny Sauter Mark Martin
23 Kurt Busch Brian Vickers Casey Mears Mike Bliss
24 Reed Sorenson Mike Skinner Robby Gordon David Stremme
25 Kasey Kahne Juan Pablo Montoya Tony Stewart Ward Burton

Past four races at 1.5-mile tracks

2008 stats
Pos Atlanta 2 Charlotte 2 Kansas Chicagoland
1 Carl Edwards Jeff Burton Jimmie Johnson Kyle Busch
2 Jimmie Johnson Kasey Kahne Carl Edwards Jimmie Johnson
3 Denny Hamlin Kurt Busch Greg Biffle Kevin Harvick
4 Matt Kenseth Kyle Busch Jeff Gordon Greg Biffle
5 Kyle Busch Jamie McMurray Matt Kenseth Tony Stewart
6 Kurt Busch Jimmie Johnson Kevin Harvick Brian Vickers
7 Jamie McMurray Greg Biffle Jeff Burton Matt Kenseth
8 David Ragan Jeff Gordon David Ragan David Ragan
9 Jeff Gordon Mark Martin AJ Allmendinger Martin Truex Jr.
10 Greg Biffle David Ragan Elliott Sadler Ryan Newman
11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Tony Stewart Denny Hamlin Jeff Gordon
12 Casey Mears Clint Bowyer Clint Bowyer Elliott Sadler
13 Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick Dale Earnhardt Jr. A.J. Allmendinger
14 A.J. Allmendinger Martin Truex Jr. Casey Mears David Reutimann
15 Martin Truex Jr. Reed Sorenson Brian Vickers Kasey Kahne
16 Ryan Newman Denny Hamlin Ryan Newman Dale Earnhardt Jr.
17 Tony Stewart Bobby Labonte Jamie McMurray Mark Martin
18 Jeff Burton Brian Vickers Mark Martin Juan Pablo Montoya
19 Robby Gordon Scott Riggs David Reutimann Jeff Burton
20 Clint Bowyer Elliott Sadler Juan Pablo Montoya Scott Riggs
21 Brian Vickers Ryan Newman Kasey Kahne Jamie McMurray
22 Mark Martin Sam Hornish Jr. David Gilliland Clint Bowyer
23 Travis Kvapil Regan Smith Tony Raines Dave Blaney
24 Sam Hornish Jr. Michael Waltrip Bobby Labonte J.J. Yeley
25 Elliott Sadler David Gilliland Bill Elliott Robby Gordon

NASCAR Sprint Cup series top-10 recap

  1. Jimmie Johnson (6,248) was the runner-up at Atlanta and remains first in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings. Johnson has 10 starts here with eight top-10s, five top-5s, a win and an average finish of 8.5.
  2. Carl Edwards (-183) was the winner Sunday and moves up two places in the Cup Series standings to second. Edwards has seven starts here with two wins and an average finish of 15.7.
  3. Greg Biffle (-185) finished 10th at Atlanta and falls one spot to third in the Cup Series standings. In nine starts at TMS, Biffle has two top-10s, a top-5 and an average finish of 26.1.
  4. Jeff Burton (-218) finished 18th at Atlanta and falls a place in the Cup Series standings to fourth. Burton has 15 starts here with seven top-10s, three top-5s, two wins and an average finish of 16.2.
  5. Kevin Harvick (-307) was 13th at Atlanta and moves up one place in the Cup Series standings to fifth. In 11 starts here, Harvick has four top-10s, two top-5s and an average finish of 13.4.
  6. Jeff Gordon (-312) was ninth on Sunday and gains one place in the Cup Series standings, moving to sixth. In 15 starts here, Gordon has seven top-10s, five top-5s and an average finish of 17.1.
  7. Clint Bowyer (-312) finished 20th at Atlanta and falls two places to seventh in the Cup Series standings. In five starts at TMS, Bowyer has two top-10s, a top-5 and an average finish of 13.8.
  8. Tony Stewart (-401) was the 17th at Atlanta and remains eighth in the Cup Series standings. Stewart has 13 starts here with eight top-10s, three top-5s, a win and an average finish of 13.0.
  9. Matt Kenseth (-413) was fourth Sunday and moves up one place in the Cup Series standings to ninth. Kenseth has 12 starts here with seven top-10s, five top-5s, a win and an average finish of 10.2.
  10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-419) finished 11th at Atlanta and falls to 10th in the Cup Series standings. Earnhardt has 12 starts here with seven top-10s, three top-5s, a win and an average finish of 12.8.

Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.

Mark Garrow

Fantasy Racing
Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.