Tuesday, November 3, 2015

AAA Texas 500 Preview: Strong 1.5-mile trends to follow

Joey Logano has been very successful at Texas recently.
LAS VEGAS -- For the second time this season the NASCAR Sprint Cup series visits Texas Motor Speedway, but things are a lot different right now from when they ran in April. In fact, it’s almost as if the series has been turned upside down.

Chevrolet had won the first four races on 1.5-mile tracks led by three wins from Jimmie Johnson -- including Texas -- and Kevin Harvick won the other (Las Vegas). Harvick was leading the most laps weekly on every type of track while Toyota and Ford were trying to play catch-up.

But then there was a major shift on these type of tracks in May when Denny Hamlin won the All-Star Race at Charlotte. Then his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards would win the following week in the Coca-Cola 600. Another JGR Toyota would win at Kentucky with Kyle Busch and then Hamlin kicked off the Chase with a win at Chicago. Four straight 1.5’s and four JGR Toyota’s took the checkers.

But then just when we thought we were going to see a JGR runaway, Ford came back strong with Joey Logano winning the last two on 1.5s. Logano dominated at Charlotte last month leading 227 laps for the win and then won a week later at Kansas, a race that was actually dominated by Matt Kenseth until Logano punted him late.

There are 11 races on 1.5 tracks scheduled in the season and we’ve already seen nine of them. Being good on these tracks really is the gateway to a championship. Two of the next three races to close out the season are on 1.5s -- this week at Texas and then the Championship Race at Homestead in three weeks.

If we follow the pattern of what has happened all season there really isn’t any reason to think Logano won’t win again. What makes it easier to choose him this week is that he has to win. After Kenseth paid him back last week at Martinsville, Logano is last with two races to go in the Eliminator Round. He’s got to make up 28-points which is the distance between he and fourth-place Harvick. Or he could just win this week and automatically qualify.

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