Driver Handicaps: Texas

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    This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the Samsung 500. To help you make your Dale Jr. Reality Cup Racing fantasy picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 334-lap event.

    Who's HOT at Texas Motor Speedway
  • Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon lead all drivers with four top-five finishes each.
  • Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin lead all drivers with respective average finishes of 6.3 and 7.0.
  • Matt Kenseth has a 5.7 average finish in the last three races at Texas.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. has seven top 10s in nine starts.
  • Tony Stewart will be back behind the wheel of the same car that won the 2006 fall Texas race.

    Keep an Eye on at Texas Motor Speedway
  • Kasey Kahne became the first driver to win from the pole when he won this event last year.
  • Casey Mears and Clint Bowyer have respective average finishes of 10.5 and 12.0.
  • Carl Edwards will be driving the same car that finished fourth at California.
  • Greg Biffle has two wins and eight top 10s in NASCAR competition at Texas.
  • Jeff Burton will pilot the same car that has a 7.7 average finish in its three starts in 2007.
  • Texas is Martin Truex Jr's best track by finishing average with more than one start.
  • Kevin Harvick finished in the top five in both Texas races last season.

    Track Performers
    Since 1997, the year of Texas Motor Speedway's first race, Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with eight wins on 1.5-mile speedways. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon is second with seven. Tony Stewart is third with six, and Mark Martin and Jeff Burton are tied for fourth with five wins a piece. Gordon leads all drivers in top fives with 28, while Martin is tops with 36 top 10s. Two-time Texas pole winner Ryan Newman is the leader in poles on 1.5-mile tracks with nine.


    Texas Rookie Report
    Paul Menard is the only Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate that has competed in a NEXTEL Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. Last fall, Menard started 32nd and finished 41st after the engine let go a little past the halfway point of the race. Both David Ragan and David Reutimann have starts in both the Truck and Busch Series at TMS. Reutimann has had the most success among the rookies in NASCAR competition at Texas capturing five top 10s in the Truck Series. Texas is the site of Juan Pablo Montoya's second-ever NASCAR race. Last fall, Montoya started 10th and finished 28th in the Busch event. And although Montoya has yet to start a Cup race at Texas, he did finish fifth in this year's race at Atlanta. If A.J. Allmendinger can qualify, he will make his first NASCAR start at TMS. Rookie Standings

    Qualifying Tidbits
    Ryan Newman and Bobby Labonte are the only multiple pole winners at Texas Motor Speedway. Brian Vickers won the pole for last year's fall race driving the No. 25 Chevrolet, stopping Dodge's consecutive pole streak at three. Vickers broke Bill Elliott's 2002 track record with a lap of 196.235 mph. Labonte leads all drivers that have started every event, with a 9.3 starting average. Matt Kenseth won the 2002 race from the 31st starting position, the furthest of any driver. Only three races have been won from outside the top 10. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of Texas Winners

    Looking For Speed
    2001 Texas Winner Dale Jarrett holds the best starting average (14.7) among the drivers required to qualify on time. Brian Vickers is the only one among the group that has won a pole. If qualifying is rained out the following drivers will go home: Jeremy Mayfield, David Reutimann, John Andretti, AJ Allmendinger, Michael Waltrip, Ward Burton and Scott Wimmer. Qualifying Averages

    Notable
    At least six Chevrolet drivers (Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, J.J. Yeley, Kyle Busch, Casey Mears and Scott Wimmer) will race the new R07 engine in the Samsung 500. The R07 is GM's first (for NASCAR competition) purpose-built small-block race engine after more than 50 years of successful race development of the Chevrolet small-block engine. Jeff Gordon is one of the drivers that tested the new engine recently (at Darlington's tire test) running a large number of laps with no problems.

    Texas Motor Speedway Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2006 season)
    *Fastest Early in a Run
    *Fastest Late in a Run
    Avg. Running Position
    1. Tony Stewart
    1. Tony Stewart
    1. Tony Stewart - 5.2
    2. Greg Biffle
    2. Martin Truex Jr.
    2. Denny Hamlin - 10.4
    3. Jimmie Johnson
    3. Casey Mears
    3. Jimmie Johnson - 10.7
    4. Kasey Kahne
    4. Carl Edwards
    4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 11.1
    5. Denny Hamlin
    5. Matt Kenseth
    5. Casey Mears - 11.9
    Laps in Top 15
    *Quality Passes
    *Driver Rating
    1. Tony Stewart - 1252
    1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 147
    1. Tony Stewart - 120.8
    2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1116
    2. Carl Edwards - 134
    2. Denny Hamlin - 101.3
    3. Jimmie Johnson - 981
    3. Reed Sorenson - 66
    3. Jimmie Johnson - 101.2
    4. Carl Edwards - 966
    4. Martin Truex Jr. - 91
    4. Greg Biffle - 98.9
    5. Kasey Kahne - 955
    5. Kasey Kahne - 121
    5. Casey Mears - 98.3

    *Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.

    *Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.

    *Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.

    *Driver Rating : Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


    Dale Jr. Reality Cup Tiebreakers

    Last Five Number of Lead Changes
    2006-23
    2006-22
    2005-23
    2005-25
    2004-24

    Average: 23.4

    Last Five Number of Cautions Laps
    2006-51
    2006-43
    2005-27
    2005-56
    2004-45

    Average: 44.4

    *RacingOne Staff Picks

    Jeff Wackerlin: Martin Truex Jr.
    Pete Pistone: Clint Bowyer
    Jorge Mondaca: Reed Sorenson
    Rachael West: Mark Martin

    *Note: Drivers can be selected only one time per season. Race points will be added up each week. This is the fourth race of the season for this section of the handicaps. Standings

    Additional Driver Notes

    1. Jeff Gordon (Points: 966): Texas Motor Speedway is one of three tracks on the schedule where Gordon has yet to visit victory lane. Gordon's closest run to victory at TMS came in 2004 when he led 46 laps en route to a third-place finish. In that event, Gordon lost the lead after he was forced to switch to a back-up battery with 26 laps to go. Gordon's 16.8 average finish is third best among all drivers that have started all 12 events at TMS.

    2. Jeff Burton (Points Behind Leader: -28): Burton won the inaugural event at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997. The win was one of three top 10s in eight Texas starts with Roush Racing. Sunday will mark Burton's fifth start at TMS with Richard Childress Racing. In this event last year, Burton captured his first top 10 at Texas with RCR with a sixth-place finish. Burton, who has yet to lead a lap with RCR at TMS, has led 145 laps at the Fort Worth track, all coming early in the track's history. This weekend, Burton will drive chassis No. 155 for the fourth time in 2007. This car combined to post an average finish of 7.7 in starts at California, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

    3. Jimmie Johnson (Points Behind Leader: -60): Jimmie Johnson's 11th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in this event last year broke a streak of five consecutive top 10s at the track. He bounced back in the fall event by scoring his best track finish of second. He currently holds the best average finish at TMS at 6.3.

    4. Matt Kenseth (Points Behind Leader: -130): Kenseth has recorded an average finish of 5.7 in his last three starts at Texas Motor Speedway. Two of the finishes marked his first top fives at the track since winning the 2002 event. In 2005, Kenseth dominated the 334-lap fall race by leading 149 laps from his best Texas qualifying effort of third. Kenseth will pilot the same car (chassis RK-317) that won at California and most recently finished third at Atlanta.

    5. Kyle Busch (Points Behind Leader: -162) Busch is coming off his best finish, and first top 10, at Texas Motor Speedway after finishing fourth last fall. In that event, Busch also recorded his best start (11th) and led his first laps (2) at the 1.5-mile speedway. This weekend, Busch will climb back into the same car (chassis No. 388) that last ran at Atlanta last October where it finished 27th.

    6. Denny Hamlin (Points Behind Leader: -190): Hamlin ranks second among all drivers with a 5.5 average finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Sunday will mark his fourth career start at the 1.5-mile speedway. Last year in this event, Hamlin led 41 laps en route to his best finish at TMS of fourth. This weekend the FedEx team will unload the same car (chassis No. 121) that finished 10th at Texas last November.

    7. Clint Bowyer (Points Behind Leader: -215): Bowyer has competed in two NEXTEL Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway with his best finish, of fifth, coming last fall. He will be gunning for his fourth top 10 of the 2007 season driving the same car (chassis No. 146) that most recently finished sixth at Dover last September. Bowyer has one Craftsman Truck Series win at TMS.

    8. Tony Stewart (Points Behind Leader: -240): Stewart will make his 291st career NEXTEL Cup start and 11th at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. Stewart collected his first Cup win at Texas in his last start there. The win was his seventh top 10. Stewart's remaining three finishes have been 23rd or worse, with the last one (31st) coming in this event in 2005. Last November he also recorded his best start at Texas of eighth. This weekend, Stewart will be back behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 120) that led a race-high 278 laps en route to its Texas victory. The No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet will carry a special NASCAR Day paint scheme in Texas.

    9. Carl Edwards (Points Behind Leader: -256): Edwards has one victory at Texas Motor Speedway, which came in the 2005 fall event. In that race, he took on fresh tires during a pit stop with 15 to go and charged through the field after restarting sixth, en route to his fourth career NEXTEL Cup victory. In this event last year, Edwards looked strong again, leading 50 laps, until an accident charged him with his first DNF at the track. In his last start, Edwards finished 15th to give him an average finish of 17.8 in four career races at TMS.

    10. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind Leader: -279): Harvick broke a streak of five consecutive finishes outside the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway by finishing fifth and third, respectively, in 2006. On Sunday, Harvick will look for his fourth top 10 at TMS, driving the same car (chassis No. 174) that was a contender at California Speedway before having to make an unscheduled pit stop for a flat tire. Harvick will also race in Saturday's Busch race at TMS where he is a three-time winner.

    11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind Leader: -289): Texas Motor Speedway is the site of Dale Earnhardt Jr's first NEXTEL Cup Series victory. The triumph was one of seven top 10s at the track. In his first two starts he combined to lead 213 of his 254 laps led at the track. Junior's last top 10 at TMS came in the November event last year when he finished sixth. Earnhardt will be back in the same chassis (No. 39) that he posted his worst finish (40th) of the 2007 season with at California.

    12. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind Leader: -316): McMurray scored his best finish (second) at Texas Motor Speedway in the 2005 spring race. He finished 10th in his first two starts in 2003 and 2004. Last year, McMurray finished 37th and 26th, respectively, in his first two track starts with Roush Racing. This weekend he will be back behind the wheel of the same car (chassis RK-428) that finished 10th last month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

    13. David Stremme (Points Behind Leader: -321): Stremme finished 21st and 24th, respectively, in his two NEXTEL Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway in 2006.

    14. Elliott Sadler (Points Behind Leader: -327): Last fall, Sadler started second and finished 37th in his first start at Texas Motor Speedway with Evernham Motorsports. His five previous starts at TMS came with Robert Yates Racing. Two of his three top 10s came with RYR, including a win in the 2004 event. His first track start in 1999 with the Woods Brothers resulted in a 10th-place finish.

    15. Mark Martin (Points Behind Leader: -337): Martin's 14.2 finishing average leads all drivers that have competed in every event at Texas Motor Speedway. After winning the second event in 1998, Martin has gone on to capture five additional top 10s, including a runner-up finish in the inaugural fall race in 2005. This weekend will mark his first track start with Ginn Racing.

    17. Kurt Busch (Points Behind Leader: -342): Busch is coming off his sixth top 10 - first with Penske Racing - at Texas Motor Speedway after finishing eighth last November. Last year in this event, Busch finished 34th, one day after winning his first Busch race with Penske. On Friday, Busch will take to the track in the same car (chassis PSC-090) that won the 2006 spring Bristol race. Troy Raker will be Busch's crew chief starting at Texas as Roy McCauley will be spending more time with wife, Amy, who is battling cancer.

    18. J.J. Yeley (Points Behind Leader: -350): Yeley has led a combined five laps and has posted an average finish of 27.5 in his two career starts at Texas Motor Speedway. Last year in this event, he posted his best NEXTEL Cup start in 48 races after he posted the second fastest lap in qualifying. He will be driving the same car (chassis No. 145) that finished 20th last November at TMS.

    20. Ryan Newman (Points Behind Leader: -377): Outside of a win in the 2003 event, Texas Motor Speedway has not been kind to Newman. His lone victory boosted his finishing average to 27.9, the worst among all drivers that have one victory. He earned his first pole at TMS in the 2005 spring event and led one of his 80 laps at the 1.5-mile speedway, but finished 16th. He went on to win the pole for the fall event but went to a back-up car after crashing on his second qualifying lap. This weekend Newman will race the same chassis (PRS-071) that finished eighth at Las Vegas.

    21. Greg Biffle (Points Behind Leader: -378): Biffle won the 2005 spring event at Texas Motor Speedway after leading 219 laps. The win was his only top 10 in six starts at TMS. In this event last year, Biffle had another contending car until his No. 16 Ford got hit from behind by Kurt Busch's No. 2 Dodge on the backstretch. In the 2005 fall race, Biffle was faced with more bad luck after he was forced to pit on lap 49 when he felt a vibration in his car. After a green flag pit stop, he dropped back one lap behind the leader. Biffle was not the same after the stop, suffering a spin later in the race and coming home with a 20th-place finish. In 2004, he ran in the top-five before the engine expired in the No. 16 Ford. This weekend Biffle will drive a brand new car (chassis RK-439) in the Samsung 500.

    22. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind Leader: -407): Texas native Labonte won the poles at Texas Motor Speedway in 2003 and 2004. His best finish at Texas is third, marking all three of his top fives achieved at the track. Labonte's 10th-place finish in this event last year came in his first track start with Petty Enterprises and ended a streak of six consecutive finishes of 26th or worse at the track.

    24. Martin Truex Jr. (Points Behind Leader: -441): Truex Jr. has a pretty solid record at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing in the top 15 in three starts. Truex will be in search of his second top 10 at the track driving the same car (chassis No. 043) that finished second at Homestead in 2006.

    25. Reed Sorenson (Points Behind Leader: -452): Sorenson has an average finish of 15.0 in his two career NEXTEL Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway. This weekend his No. 41 Dodge will switch from the Target sponsorship to TUMS.

    26. Tony Raines (Points Behind Leader: -459): Raines has competed in three NEXTEL Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway and has posted an average finish of 21.5 in his two starts with Hall of Fame Racing. TMS is also the site of one of Raines' four Craftsman Truck Series wins.

    27. Joe Nemechek (Points Behind Leader: -464): Nemechek has captured one top five - a fourth-place finish with Felix Sabates in 1998 - in 11 starts at Texas Motor Speedway. In his first track start with his current team (Ginn) in 2004, he was running third with 70 laps to go when a power level problem ended his contention for the win. He finished 14th in that event, which marked his best finish with Ginn at TMS in five starts.

    29. Ricky Rudd (Points Behind Leader: -468): Rudd will be making his 10th career start at Texas Motor Speedway and his first since 2002 with Robert Yates Racing. Rudd has captured four top 10s with three different teams at TMS, with his career-best finish (fourth) coming with RYR in 2002. His average finish at Texas is 17.1.

    30. David Gilliland (Points Behind Leader: -472): Gilliland started seventh and finished 21st in his only start at Texas Motor Speedway.

    31. Jeff Green (Points Behind Leader: -487): Green has seven career Cup starts at TMS and has a top five along with an average finishing position of 21.4

    33. Casey Mears (Points Behind Leader: -500) This weekend, Mears will make his first start in the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway. Mears has put together a good string of finishes in five out of his last six track starts, which came with Chip Ganassi Racing. In the last five races at TMS, Mears has recorded an average finish of 7.2. Running a body modeled off the car teammate Jimmie Johnson put into victory lane at Las Vegas, chassis No. 334 was tested at Kentucky Speedway this week.

    34. Kasey Kahne (Points Behind Leader: -513): Last year in this event, Kahne won his first race at Texas Motor Speedway after leading 63 laps from the pole. Kahne has started in the top five in four out of the five races he has competed in and his 5.2 average start leads all drivers. Outside of the win and a second-place finish, Kahne's other performances at TMS have resulted in finishes of 33rd or worse. This weekend, Kahne will be driving the same car (chassis No. 23) that has qualified 12th and finished seventh at Atlanta in March.

    36. Scott Riggs (Points Behind Leader: -559): Last spring, Riggs scored his first top 10 in five starts at Texas Motor Speedway when he finished seventh. He sat on the pole twice at Texas in the Truck Series and finished twice in the top five in the Busch Series.

    37. Dale Jarrett (Points Behind Leader: -567): Jarrett won at Texas in 2001 and has started all twelve Cup races at the track with an average finishing position of 14.7

    40. Brian Vickers (Points Behind Leader: -667): In 2004, Vickers captured his best finish in his first start at Texas Motor Speedway when he started 13th and finished 12th. Last fall, he captured his fourth career NEXTEL Cup Series pole at TMS with a lap of 196.235 mph.

    52. John Andretti (Points Behind Leader: -905): Andretti will attempt to make his eighth start at Texas Motor Speedway driving the No. 37 Dodge for Front Row Motorsports. He will be in the same car that qualified at California and ran fairly well before an electrical problem dropped him out of contention.

    54. Michael Waltrip (Points Behind Leader: N/A): Waltrip will attempt to qualify for his second NEXTEL Cup race of 2007 on Friday driving a redesigned intermediate car that Toyota and MWR collaborated on. Waltrip's last top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway came with DEI in this event in 2005.

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