Texas Handicaps

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth had never finished better than 20th at Texas, so he surprised a lot of people by winning this race last year. In the process he proved no one could look more awkward than him trying to pull off the Lone Ranger look wearing a white Stetson in victory lane while clutching what is now the second ugliest trophy in racing next to that big green fish thing they gave Labonte at Atlanta.

Kurt Busch- Busch stunned a lot of people finishing fourth in what was then an unsponsored car here in 2001. 2002 offered a bit of a reality check with a 23rd place result two laps off the pace. One factor facing both Busch and Kenseth (as well as their teammates) is engine durability. Texas is similar in configuration to Atlanta and you may recall most Roush engines were shoveled into sacks in oily bite size bits after that race.

Tony Stewart- Stewart has top 10 finishes in three of four Winston Cup races he’s run at Texas with a career best finish of fifth here last year despite the fact he was nursing an ailing rack of ribs in that race.

Michael Waltrip- Waltrip finished 9th in the first two Winston Cup races at Texas, but has finished outside the top 25 in the last three.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.- Junior scored his first Winston Cup win here back in 2000 but wrecked and finished 42nd here last year.

Jimmie Johnson- Johnson has only one Winston Cup start at Texas and managed a credible sixth place result.

Ricky Craven- Craven scored his best career Texas Cup finish here last year, but that was only a 14th place result.

Bobby Labonte- Based on his performance at Atlanta earlier this season this native Texan ought to be a threat this weekend. Labonte’s best finishes at Texas are three third place results.

Ricky Rudd- Rudd’s fourth place finish here last year was his best ever Texas result and his third top 10 result in six races he’s run here.

Jeff Gordon- This is one of those rare Winston Cup tracks where Jeff Gordon has never won. Gordon did finish second here last year only his second top 10 finish at a track where he’s struggled.

Kevin Harvick- Harvick finished 7th here in his first Cup start but 25th here last year.

Joe Nemechek- Here’s a Texas size paradox. While Nemechek runs well here in a Busch car (he finished third here last year) he’s finished 29th or worse in four of five Texas Cup starts. Nemechek did manage a fourth place finish in the 1998 Cup race at TMS.

Johnny Benson- Benson’s best finish here was third in 2001. He also finished fifth here back in 1998 in one of his few good runs driving for the Roush organization.

Elliott Sadler- Sadler scored his first (and only) top 10 result of his 1999 rookie season here.

Ryan Newman- Newman blew an engine here last year and finished 40th in his only Texas Cup start to date. And here’s the weird part. He qualified 36th for that race.

Rusty Wallace- In six Cup starts at Texas, Wallace’s best results are a pair of fourth place finishes his only top ten results here.

Dave Blaney- Blaney managed a credible sixth place finish here in 2001. Last week’s disaster sent him plummeting in the points so Blaney needs to get things back on track this weekend.

Jeff Burton- Burton is one of three Roush drivers to win at Texas winning his career first Winston Cup record at the inaugural race here in 1997. He’s also finished in the top 10 in three of six starts here.

Robby Gordon- Gordon finished 41st here last year. It would be a real challenge to finish any worse, but I think Gordon is up to that challenge.

Jimmy Spencer- Spencer has a pair of top 10 finishes at Texas, a seventh in 1998 and an eighth place finish in last year’s Texas Cup race.

Others To Watch-

Dale Jarrett- Jarrett leads all drivers in career Texas earnings. He won here in 2001, and has finished second here twice as well. Led the most laps in last year’s Cup race here. Despite his win at the Rock Jarrett finds himself outside the top 20 in points currently and needs to get his season back on track.

Mark Martin- Martin won here in 1998 and has three top 10 finishes in six starts here.

Terry Labonte- Last week’s Bristol race at a heartbreaker for Labonte who had a fine run spoiled by a wreck. He’s a previous Texas winner (1999) as well as a native Texan. So will the Iceman and the 5 team bring their A game to Texas?

Steve Park- Park finished second in the 2001 Texas Cup race.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2003

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