Driver Handicaps: Texas

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This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday's Dickies 500. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 334-lap event.

Who's HOT at Texas
• Carl Edwards and Jeff Burton are the only multiple winners.
• Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with an 8.5 average finish.
• Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin each have five top-five finishes.
• Tony Stewart leads all drivers with 453 laps led.
• Denny Hamlin has finished in the top 10 in five of his six starts.

Keep an Eye on at Texas
• Greg Biffle is running a car that has posted an average finish of 3.0 in two starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the pole and finished 12th in his first Texas start with Hendrick Motorsports.
• Kyle Busch has a 7.0 average finish on the eight 1.5-mile tracks in 2008.
• Kurt Busch will be driving the same car that finished third at Lowe's Motor Speedway earlier this month.

Chase Contenders at Texas
Driver
Races
Poles
Wins
Top Fives
Top 10s
DNFs
Avg. Finish
Driver Rating
1 Jimmie Johnson
10
0
1
5
8
1
8.5
107.9
2 Carl Edwards
7
0
2
2
2
1
15.7
96.0
3 Greg Biffle
9
0
1
1
2
4
26.1
88.8
4 Jeff Burton
15
0
2
3
7
1
16.2
84.7
5 Kevin Harvick
11
0
0
2
4
0
13.4
84.6
6 Jeff Gordon
15
0
0
5
7
3
17.1
85.1
7 Clint Bowyer
5
0
0
1
2
0
13.8
85.0
8 Tony Stewart
13
0
1
3
8
2
13.0
107.9
9 Matt Kenseth
12
0
1
5
7
1
10.7
104.9
10 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
12
2
1
3
7
2
12.8
98.1
11 Denny Hamlin
6
0
0
2
5
0
10.7
101.9
12 Kyle Busch
7
0
0
3
3
0
17.7
93.2


Track Performers
Kyle Busch has posted the best average finish (7.0) on the seven 1.5-mile tracks in 2008. Last week Carl Edwards became the first driver to win three races on 1.5-mile tracks in 2008. His win at Atlanta lowered his average finish to 15.1 on the eight 1.5-mile tracks this season. Greg Biffle is second in finishing average (8.1) thanks to six top 10s. Kevin Harvick (8.9) and Jeff Burton (9.0) also have solid average finishes in the eight races. Championship points leader Jimmie Johnson, who has an average finish of 11.8, will be racing the same car that finished second last weekend at Atlanta. 1.5-mile tracks: Las Vegas, Atlanta (1.54-mile), Texas, Charlotte, Chicago and Kansas

Texas Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2008)
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Martin Truex Jr.
1. Tony Stewart - 8.0
2. Tony Stewart
2. Tony Stewart
2. Jimmie Johnson - 9.3
3. Matt Kenseth
3. Denny Hamlin
3. Matt Kenseth - 9.6
4. Denny Hamlin
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 10.1
5. Martin Truex Jr.
5. Jimmie Johnson
5. Martin Truex Jr. - 10.3
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Tony Stewart - 2109
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 258
1. Jimmie Johnson - 107.9
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 2041
2. Kurt Busch - 253
1. Tony Stewart - 107.9
3. Jimmie Johnson - 1867
3. Tony Stewart - 244
3. Matt Kenseth - 104.9
4. Matt Kenseth - 1792
4. Denny Hamlin - 223
4. Denny Hamlin - 101.9
5. Carl Edwards - 1649
4. Martin Truex Jr. - 223
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 98.1

*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.


RacingOne Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Denny Hamlin
Pete Pistone: Carl Edwards
Kym Opalenik: Jimmie Johnson
Rachael West: Tony Stewart

Top 20 Driver Notes - Based on Current Standings

1. Jimmie Johnson: Last year in this event, Johnson captured his first win at Texas Motor Speedway after leading nine laps. He followed that up by leading 65 laps en route to his second runner-up finish this past spring. In the 2007 spring race, Johnson's Texas finishing average took a hit, dropping to 8.5, after a crash took him out of contention. His 38th-place finish was his only DNF and only finish outside the top 12 in 10 starts at TMS. This weekend Johnson will drive chassis No. 504, which he drove last weekend to a second-place finish at Atlanta. Johnson has won three races from the pole in that chassis this season: Indianapolis, California and Kansas.

2. Carl Edwards: Edwards is coming off his second victory at Texas Motor Speedway after leading 123 laps in the spring. His other win 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. In the 2006 spring race, Edwards looked strong again, leading 50 laps, until an accident charged him with his first, and only, DNF at the track. Edwards, who has an average finish of 15.7 in seven starts at TMS, will be racing the same chassis, RK-575, that raced at Michigan in August, where Edwards picked up the win.

3. Greg Biffle: Biffle won the 2005 spring event at Texas Motor Speedway after leading 219 laps. The win was his first of two top 10s in nine starts at TMS. His other came in the 2007 spring race when he finished sixth, ending a streak of three consecutive finishes of 20th or worse. In the 2006 spring race, Biffle had another contending car until his No. 16 Ford got hit from behind by Kurt Busch's No. 2 Dodge on the backstretch. Biffle was faced with more bad luck in the 2005 fall race 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. Biffle has posted an average finish of 36.0 in his last two starts at TMS. Biffle is bringing chassis RK-576 to Texas. He raced this car to a fourth-place finish at Chicago and a second in this year's Coca-Cola 600.

4. Jeff Burton: Burton is coming off three consecutive finishes of sixth or better at Texas Motor Speedway. Burton won his second race at TMS, first with Richard Childress Racing, in the 2007 spring race. He led one lap in that race to mark his first lap led at TMS since 2000. Burton's first eight starts at TMS came with Roush Racing. In that span he captured one win (the inaugural race in 1997) and three top 10s. This weekend Burton will pilot chassis No. 255. This car was raced at Michigan in August to an 11th-place finish and Pocono in August to a 21st, where a late-race pit road penalty foiled a likely top five.

5. Kevin Harvick: Harvick broke a streak of five consecutive finishes outside the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway by finishing fifth and third, respectively, in 2006. Last year in this event, Harvick posted his worst finish in 10 starts at TMS after finishing 29th. After bouncing back to finish 10th last fall, Harvick will look for his sixth top 10 at TMS on Sunday, driving the same car (chassis No. 238) that most recently finished seventh at Atlanta last month.

6. Jeff Gordon: Texas Motor Speedway is one of two tracks on the schedule where Gordon has yet to visit victory lane. One of Gordon's closest runs 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. Last year in this event, Gordon finished seventh for his third consecutive top 10. His finishing average dropped this past spring to 17.1 after a crash placed him 43rd.

7. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has competed in five Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway with his best finish, of fifth, coming in the fall of 2006. He scored his second top 10 this past spring after taking the checkered flag in 10th. The finish gave him an overall average finish of 13.8. This weekend Bowyer will be behind the wheel of a rebuilt chassis No. 247, that was in an accident at Pocono in June.

8. Tony Stewart: Stewart collected his first Cup win at Texas Motor Speedway in the 2006 fall race. The win was his seventh of eight career top 10s at the track. Stewart's last came this spring when he finished seventh. Besides an 11th-place finish last fall, Stewart's remaining four finishes have been 23rd or worse.

9. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has recorded an average finish of 5.0 in his last six starts at Texas Motor Speedway. Four 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. This weekend, Kenseth will pilot a brand new car, RK-612.

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Texas Motor Speedway is the site of Dale Earnhardt Jr's first Sprint 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 393 laps led at the track. Junior's last top 10 at TMS came in the 2006 fall event when he finished sixth. Last year in the spring race, Earnhardt Jr. looked like a contender to return to victory lane until he got run over by Kyle Busch in a late race skirmish that ended his day. After winning the pole and finishing 12th in his Texas debut with Hendrick Motorsports in April, Junior will pilot Chassis No. 88-521, which most recently raced at Lowe's in October.

11. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin's finishing average (10.7) at Texas Motor Speedway took a hit last fall when he came home 29th. The finish was his first outside the top 10 in six starts. In that race Hamlin led 45 laps and battled for the lead before making contact with the outside wall. This past spring, Hamlin scored his second top five at TMS after finishing fifth.

12. Kyle Busch: Busch is coming off his best finish at Texas Motor Speedway after placing third in his TMS debut with Joe Gibbs Racing. It was Busch's third top five at the track where he has combined to lead 203 laps in his last two starts. Busch's first six starts at Texas came with Hendrick Motorsports.

13. David Ragan: Ragan lowered his average finish at Texas Motor Speedway from 38.0 to 29.7 this past spring after finishing 13th in his third start. Last year in this event, Ragan finished 37th after a crash took him out of contention. Ragan's luck has been much better in the Nationwide and Truck Series at TMS where he has combined to post four top-10 finishes. This weekend Ragan will shoot for his first Cup Series top 10 at Texas by driving the same car (chassis No. 615) that he finished 10th with in August at California.

14. Kasey Kahne: Kahne won the 2006 spring race at Texas Motor Speedway after leading 63 laps from the pole. Kahne has started in the top five in four out of the eight races he has competed in. His starting average was best among all drivers up until last year when he qualified 34th and 25th, respectively. Outside of the win and a second-place finish, Kahne's other performances at TMS have resulted in finishes of 18th or worse.

15. Martin Truex Jr: Up until this past spring, Texas Motor Speedway was Truex Jr's best track on the circuit based on finishing average. But a 36th-place finish in April, after the engine expired, dropped his average to 13.8 in six starts.

16. Ryan Newman: Outside of a win in the 2003 event and two consecutive top-five finishes, Texas Motor Speedway has not been kind to Newman. His lone victory boosted his finishing average to 23.6. 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 chassis PRS-580. It's the same car Newman drove to a 13th-place finish at Indianapolis and 21st-place in Charlotte recently.

17. Kurt Busch: Texas Motor Speedway is Busch's best 1.5-mile track on the circuit based on his 13.0 finishing average. Last year in this event, Busch scored his seventh top 10 at TMS after finishing eighth. The 2006 spring race marked his first race at Texas with Penske. He finished 34th in that event, one day after winning his first Nationwide race with the team. This weekend, Busch will take to the track in chassis PRS-550. Busch piloted this car to a third-place finish at Lowe's a few weeks ago.

18. Brian Vickers: Vickers has yet to finish in the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway in eight starts. In Vickers' three starts with Team Red Bull at TMS he has posted and average finish of 17.7.

19. Jamie McMurray: McMurray has posted five top 10s and two top-five finishes in nine starts at Texas Motor Speedway. The best finish came in April 2005, where he finished second. This weekend McMurray will pilot the same car (chassis No. RK-603) that finished 13th at Auto Club Speedway in Spetember.

20. Bobby Labonte: 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 the 2006 spring event came in his first track start with Petty Enterprises and ended a streak of six consecutive finishes of 26th or worse at the track. Since then, he has posted an average finish of 20.0.

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