The first race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series of April is at Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. This will be the first race at a 1.5 Mile Intermediate track since Las Vegas last month and the third race at this track type in 2018.
RACE PREVIEW FOR O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500
Post Saturday Practices Update: Daniel Suarez ($7,200) was first in second practice, third in final practice, and had the seventh-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in second practice. He was 13th in first practice. His best finish in two starts at Texas is 14th, which is his starting position for this week’s race. He has more experience at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks since his last start, making him a Top 10 pick with a good chance for a Top 5 as indicated by his practice speeds.
Jimmie Johnson ($8,700) has seven wins at Texas, including four of the last seven races at the site, which is the most of active drivers. He starts ninth, was fourth in second practice, and first in final practice. Texas is one of Johnson’s best tracks and he looked better than most throughout the later practice sessions. Johnson will compete for a Top 5 finish with a fair chance to win. All other driver outlooks remain much the same.
TOP PRICED PICKS
Kevin Harvick ($11,500) is the most recent winner at Texas. In 30 starts at the site, Harvick has 18 Top 10 finishes, which include his last seven starts. Since 2015, Harvick has the best Average Running Position of 4.6, the best Average Finishing Position of 4.3, the second-most Fastest Laps with 170, and the second-best Driver Rating of 119.3. He has the second-best AFP at 1.5 Mile Intermediate Tracks since 2017 at 7.1 and has led the most laps at Intermediate tracks so far this season with 395. Harvick was second in first practice and starts second. Harvick is one of the favorites this week and he has won the two previous Cup Intermediate track events this season. He will compete for the win and lead several laps.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,600) has finished in the Top 5 in the last five races this season. In 25 starts at Texas, Truex has 14 Top 10 finishes, which include his last six starts at the site. Truex has the highest DR of 119.9, the second-best ARP of 4.9, the most Laps in the Top 15 at 1,925, and the most Laps Led at 364 since 2015 at Texas. Since 2017, Truex has the best AFP of 2.8 at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks. Truex was 10th in first practice and starts sixth. Truex is statistically one of the best at Texas in recent seasons. Even though Truex has not shown the speeds to compete for the win, do not count him out, as he has shown since last season that he is one of the favorites at 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks.
Kyle Busch ($10,400) has three runner-up finishes in the last four races in 2018. In 24 starts at Texas, Busch has two wins and 12 Top 10 finishes. He also has five Top 5 finishes in his last seven starts at the site. He has the third-best AFP at 4.5 this season on 1.5 Mile Intermediate tracks. Since 2015, Busch has the eighth-best ARP of 12.0, the sixth-best AFP of 8.8, and sixth-best DR of 97.2. Busch starts eighth and was fourth in first practice. Busch is one of only three drivers with five or more Top 10 finishes this season, and expect him to increase that statistic with another Top 10 finish this week.
Brad Keselowski ($10,200) has the second-best AFP of 4.0 at 1.5 Intermediate tracks this season. In 19 starts at Texas, Keselowski has eight Top 10 finishes, which include five in his last seven starts. Since 2015, Keselowski is third-best in ARP at 9.6, Fastest Laps at 150, and DR at 106.8. Keselowski starts 11th and was eighth in first practice. Texas is a favorable track for Keselowski based on recent statistics and he will have another Top 10 finish.
Chase Elliott ($9,900) has the best AFP of all drivers at Texas at 6.5. He has finished in the Top 10 in all four of his starts at the site. He has the best Place Differential (56) of all drivers in the last four Texas races. He has the fourth-best ARP of 9.7 and the seventh-most Quality Passes (passes of cars in the Top 15 under green flag conditions) with 194 since 2015. Elliott starts 20th and was seventh in first practice. He has great history at Texas and will score plenty of points from PD, making him one of the top picks this week.
Joey Logano ($9,100) has four Top 10 finishes in his last four Texas starts, which include three Top 3 finishes. Since 2015, Logano has led the third-most Laps at 236, has the seventh-best AFP at 12.4, the ninth-best ARP at 12.4, and the fifth-best DR of 99.6. He was 16th in first practice and starts seventh. Logano’s recent consistency both at Texas and in 2018 is hard to ignore and shows that he will finish in the Top 10.
MID RANGE PRICED PICKS
Aric Almirola’s ($8,300) best finish in 14 starts at Texas is seventh. In 14 starts, Almirola has four Top 15 finishes. He starts 12th and was ninth in first practice. He is the only driver to finish in the Top 15 in every race this season and his move to Stewart-Haas Racing has made him more competitive than at any other point in his entire career. Almirola is an easy recommendation for a Top 10 finish.
Erik Jones’ ($7,900) best career finish at Texas is 10th, which came in his last start at the site. His worst finish in three starts at Texas is 22nd and he has two Top 15 finishes. Jones has four finishes of 11th or better this season. He starts 21st and was 15th in first practice. Expect Jones to capture points from PD and to finish in the Top 15.
Ryan Newman ($7,800) has three Top 20 finishes in his last four Texas starts, which includes a Top 10 finish in 2016. Since 2014, Newman has only two finishes outside of the Top 20. He was 11th in first practice and starts 25th. Based on history and his first practice speed, Newman will finish in the Top 15.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s ($6,900) two finishes of 12th and 14th last season at Texas were his career bests at the site. In 10 starts at Texas, Stenhouse has six finishes of 16th or better, which include his last four starts at the site. Stenhouse starts 26th and was 20th in first practice. Stenhouse will finish in the Top 20 based on his first practice speed.
William Byron ($6,700) is making his Cup Series debut at Texas this week. He has four Top 20 finishes this season, including two Top 15 finishes in the last three races. In the Xfinity Series, Byron has two Top 10 finishes in two starts at Texas. He qualified 33rd but will start from the rear due to an engine change. Because of how good the equipment is with his team, he will move up from his starting position and score points from PD. Byron will certainly finish in the Top 25 and has some upside to do even better.
Chris Buescher ($5,900) has finished with positive PD in each of his five starts at Texas. His best career finish at the site is 21st and he has finished in the Top 25 in his last three starts. Buescher has an AFP of 20th at 1.5 Intermediate tracks this season. He starts 18th and was 19th in first practice. Buescher will finish around his starting position based on his first practice speed.
XFINITY SERIES PREVIEW FOR MY BARIATRIC SOLUTIONS 300
Post-Qualifying Saturday Update: Ryan Blaney won the pole in qualifying, which was shortened due to weather. Ryan Truex rounded out the front row by qualifying second. Both drivers have shown better speeds than most throughout practices and will remain strong picks, but Blaney will be the dominator of the race because he showcased better speed than Truex in final practice.
Several drivers failed pre-qualifying inspection and did not run a lap during qualifying including Kevin Harvick, who starts 40th, Elliott Sadler, who starts 34th, Matt Tifft ($9,000), who starts 36th, Daniel Hemric ($8,800), who starts 35th, and Kaz Grala ($7,000), who starts 37th. Tifft was fourth in both practices and had the seventh-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Hemric was second in first practice, first in final practice, and had the second-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Grala was 24th in both practices. These drivers offer PD promise that will be too great to ignore, with Tifft and Hemric looking like locks for the Top 5.
Christopher Bell ($9,400) will start 18th. He was eighth in first practice, 10th in final practice, and had the fifth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Bell will be making his second start at Texas and finished sixth in his last start at the site. Bell will finish in the Top 10 and has a good chance of finishing in the Top 5. All other driver outlooks remain much the same.
Kevin Harvick ($13,800), Ryan Blaney ($10,700), Jamie McMurray ($10,500), and Ty Dillon ($10,300) are the Cup Series veterans also participating in this week’s Xfinity race. Harvick has 20 Xfinity starts at Texas with five wins, 17 Top 10 finishes, and three Top three finishes in his last three starts at the site. He was 11th in first practice and 13th in final practice. Harvick’s history shows that he is always a threat for a Top 10 even if he does not display Top 10 speeds in practices. Blaney has finished in the Top 10 in each of his five Texas starts and finished second in the last two races at the site. He was third in first practice, second in final practice, and had the best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Blaney has shown speeds capable of leading laps and competing for the win.
McMurray finished fifth in his only Xfinity start at ISM Raceway in 2018 and he has finished sixth or better in his last two Texas Xfinity starts. McMurray was 14th in both practices and had the 10th best 10 consecutive Lap Average in final practice. McMurray will finish around his starting position and depending on where he qualifies, will be a strong pick for Place Differential. Dillon has three Top 10 finishes in nine starts at Texas. He was fifth in first practice, 11th in final practice, and had the third-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Dillon will finish in the Top 10 based on practice speeds.
Elliott Sadler ($10,100), Justin Allgaier ($9,800), Cole Custer ($9,600), and Tyler Reddick ($9,100) all have been strong models of consistency by finishing in the Top 10 in each of the last three races. Sadler has finished in the Top 10 in each of his last four starts at Texas and was 17th in both practices. Depending on where he qualifies, he can be a good pick based on PD. Allgaier has finished 13th or better in his last four Texas starts. He was ninth in first practice, sixth in final practice, and had the fourth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Expect Allgaier to finish in the Top 10 based on practice speeds.
Custer finished fifth in his only two starts at Texas last season. He was 16th in first practice and eighth in final practice. Custer will be a solid PD play depending on where he qualifies. Reddick finished 33rd in his only start at Texas, 52 laps down. He was 13th in first practice, fifth in final practice, and had the sixth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Reddick is riding in better equipment since his last start and will compete for a Top 10 finish based on his final practice speed.
Brandon Jones ($8,000) and Ryan Truex ($7,900) will have strong runs this week. Jones’ best finish at Texas is ninth and he is riding in better equipment this season. He was seventh in first practice, third in final practice, and had the ninth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average. Jones will finish in the Top 10. Truex is making his Xfinity debut at Texas and has finished in the Top 15 in every race this season. Truex was first in first practice and ninth in final practice. Truex will finish in the Top 10.
Ryan Sieg ($6,800) and Spencer Gallagher ($6,700) are the best bargain values for Texas. Sieg has finished in the Top 20 in his last six Texas starts, which include three Top 15 finishes. He was 22nd in first practice and 18th in final practice. Sieg will compete for a Top 20 finish. Gallagher finished in the Top 15 in both of his two Texas starts last season. He was sixth in first practice and 15th in final practice. Gallagher will finish in the Top 15.