Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2016 Duck Commander 500 Preview

Jimmie Johnson is a straight badass at Texas.
LAS VEGAS -- We're already six races into the season and have had five different winners as the series shifts back to a 1.5-mile track at Texas Motor Speedway which means the low downforce package comes back into the equation and Jimmie Johnson will most likely win again.

It may sound presumptuous to assume Johnson is going to win again, but let's be real with what we've seen far this season and also in Texas history. He's the only driver with multiple wins this year and they both came on tracks (Atlanta and Fontana) where the low downforce set-up figured prominently. On the other track where the package was a big deal -- Las Vegas, Johnson finished third and led the most laps.

And that's just this year.

How about the fact that Johnson has won the past three races at Texas and has won a track record six times while leading a track record 1,023 laps?

He's so good at Texas that he even wins there when he doesn't have the best car like was the case last fall. Brad Keselowski led 312 of the 334 laps. He had the dominant car on the day, but Johnson stayed close and when it was money time he put pressure on Keselowski. With four laps to go Johnson would make the pass and Keselowski would finish just over a second behind as runner-up.

I guess that's what champions do, but when you add in all his continued history there, his crew chief, and how the season is going so far, it's easy to see why he's the 9/2 favorite (Bet $100 to win $45) to win Saturday night's Duck Commander 500. The only reason he isn't favored by more is because there are several drivers right near his level with the low downforce package, and that's kind of the angle I'm going to roll with this week.

By no means will I be looking to bet against Johnson in any match-ups, but I'm not thrilled about taking 9/2 odds even though Johnson has burned me several times in his career because I didn't want to back his short prices. And really, let's face it, there have been 19 races Johnson didn't win at Texas -- track record five runner-up finishes.

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