Roush drivers have inside track at Texas

April, 12, 2012

I hope everybody thoroughly enjoyed their off weekend. Treasure it, because I think NASCAR takes only one every decade. It's like an eclipse.

But this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway brings us to the semifinals in the NASCAR bracket, the Fast Four, if you will.

Martin Truex Jr. takes on Dale Earnhardt Jr. on one side of the bracket. Last year's bracket champ, Dale Jr., comes in hot, and his numbers at Texas are great. Truex, on the other hand, has one career top-5 finish at Texas. I'll take D Junior, not M Junior.

Tony Stewart versus Clint Bowyer is tougher. Stewart won last fall, but that's his only top-10 in the past four races there. Bowyer's running a streak of three straight top-10s there. I'll take consistency and Bowyer.

Texas two-stepping

Texas is one of those tracks where Roush Fenway Racing has had tons of success. The Roushketeers have eight wins there, five more than any other team.

Since 2005, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards each rank in the top four in overall driver rating and in the number of fastest laps run. But there's still room for the team to improve.

Both Biffle and Edwards' average finishes in that time are worse than 15th, both worse than where they were running midrace. So it's important for them to finish what they start.

Kenseth, however, moves from a 14.8 average start to 7.0 midrace and a 6.6 average finish in that time.

Looking for Trouble

Every week, our stats and analysis team compiles a breakdown of the wrecks at the next track on the schedule. Here's this week's takeaway:

Expect the wrecks at Texas to have even more impact than in your usual race.

Dating back to the start of 2008, there have been 18 wreck-related DNFs at Texas, the highest total of any non-restrictor plate track in that time.

So the stakes will be even higher than normal this weekend, with the high speeds of Texas making a disastrous finish a reality.

The Eliminator: Texas

For those of you new to my little blog, every week I use a device called The Eliminator to make my race pick. It's pretty simple: Instead of telling you why one guy will win, I'll point out why everybody else has to lose. The driver remaining, by process of elimination, will be the race winner.

1. Nine of the past 10 Texas winners had a previous top-2 finish at the track ( 31 eliminated, 15 remaining).

2. The past seven and 10 of the past 11 Texas winners had a top-15 finish in the previous Kansas race (five eliminated, 10 remaining).

3. Twelve of the past 14 Texas winners finished ninth or better in the previous California race (five eliminated, five remaining).

4. The past three Texas winners had a top-10 finish in each of the previous two Sprint Cup races (three eliminated, two remaining).

5. The past four Texas winners had a top-10 finish in the previous Michigan race (one eliminated, one remaining).

Your winner: Tony Stewart

Matt Willis | email

ESPN Staff Writer
Matt Willis has been a studio researcher at ESPN since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter," among other shows. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2006 with a degree in journalism. While there, he worked on ICTV, on shows such as "Ya Think You Know Sports?" and "Sports Final." He also was a member of the IC Comedy Club and figures about half of the jokes he makes in his column are actually funny.



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