Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams are in Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, April 9th. Television and radio coverage begins 1:30 pm ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Drivers will race 501 miles over 334 laps with Stage 1 ending on lap 85 and Stage 2 ending on lap 170.
What To Watch For: Brad Keselowski goes for his second consecutive win and third victory of the season at Texas.
Jimmie Johnson tries to add to his track-record six wins.
Erik Jones – a winner at Texas in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series – searches for his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series checkered flag.
Kyle Busch attempts to defend his spring Lone Star State victory.
Clock Stopper: Keselowski First Driver to Multiple Wins
Brad Keselowski became the first driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to win multiple races this season when he passed Kyle Busch with 42 laps remaining and never looked back to visit Victory Lane for his first time at Martinsville Speedway.
Keselowski, who notched the first victory for Ford at Martinsville since Oct. 20, 2002 (Kurt Busch, Roush Fenway Racing, 28 races ago), will go for his second straight victory in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The No. 2 Ford driver leads the series with ten playoff points and sits fourth in the points standings, 34 markers behind No. 1 ranked Kyle Larson.
In 17 starts at Texas, Keselowski has four top-fives, six top-tens and an average finish of 16.2.
Super Soph: Elliott Poised for Win after Strong Start to Second Full-Time Season
Chase Elliott finished third at Martinsville for his third top-five of the season. He has an average finish of 7.8, which has propelled him to second in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings – four points below Kyle Larson.
Elliott, 21, is competing in his second full-time season after earning a playoff berth in his Sunoco Rookie campaign. He has two playoff points via his two stage wins.
The No. 24 Chevrolet driver performed well at Texas last season with finishes of fifth (spring) and fourth (fall).
His 5.1 average running position this season is the best in the series.
Texas Ranger: Johnson Tries to Continue Lone Star State Dominance
Defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has struggled early on his quest for a record eighth title.
He’s logged only one top-ten finish (ninth at Phoenix) and ranks 14th in points – 127 markers behind leader Kyle Larson.
Johnson hopes Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway – a track where he’s dominated recently – can be the turning point of his season. The No. 48 Chevrolet driver boasts a track-record six wins, including a streak of three consecutive victories from fall of 2014 to fall of 2015. In addition to his triumphs, Johnson claims 14 top-fives, 20 top-tens and an 8.4 average finish in the Lone Star State.
New Surface and Configuration to Debut at Texas
Texas Motor Speedway made some renovations to its track over the offseason. Enhancements it made to make sure the best possible experience for fans included: adding an expansive French drainage system on the frontstretch and backstretch, repaving the entire track including pit lane, and re-profiling turns one and two (banking reduced from 24 to 20 degrees, racing surface expanded from 60 to 80 feet wide.
Turns three and four of the track stay 60 feet wide at 24 degrees of banking.
JTG-Daugherty Racing Produces Strong Showing at Martinsville
Road-course ace AJ Allmendinger is turning into a short-track stud. The No. 47 JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet driver posted a sixth-place showing at Martinsville Sunday for his fourth consecutive top-11 finish at “The Paperclip.”
Allmendinger’s JTG-Daugherty teammate, Chris Buescher, logged a season-best 11th-place showing at Martinsville – his best finish since a fifth-place result at Bristol last fall. Buescher, from Prosper, Texas, gets to race at his home track this weekend in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR Next Alum Jones Beginning to Find Groove
Erik Jones, 20, a prolific winner at the NASCAR Camping World Truck and XFINITY Series levels, is beginning to find his groove as a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
He hasn’t competed for victories, yet, but the Furniture Row Racing driver has recorded a top-15 finish in every race except Daytona, where he wrecked out at the halfway mark.
The NASCAR Next alum sits 13th in the points standings, tops among series rookies.
Although Jones is the top-ranked rookie in the points standings, Daniel Suarez leads him in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Race by two points. Ty Dillon sits third (ten points behind Suarez), followed by Corey Lajoie (-16) and Gray Gaulding (-38).
Busch Ready to Rebound from Martinsville Disappointment
with Defense of Texas Victory
Kyle Busch led 274 of 500 laps in last weekend’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, but could not hold off Brad Keselowski at the end and finished second.
The 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion will try to rebound in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway – a race he won last year.
In 22 starts at Texas, Busch claims two wins, 11 top-fives, 12 top-tens and an average finish of 11.6.
The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing driver is sixth in the standings, 80 points behind leader Kyle Larson. He has one playoff point via his stage win at Daytona.
Stenhouse Pulls Off Top-Ten Finish at Martinsville
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. used NASCAR’s new race enhancements to add some extra excitement to Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville. He bumped race leader Kyle Busch on the last lap and passed him so he could stay on the lead lap to begin the third stage. Stenhouse seized the opportunity to log a tenth-place finish – his second top-ten of the season.
The move not only helped Stenhouse, it took a playoff point away from Busch because it allowed Chase Elliott the opportunity to beat Busch to the stripe.
The Roush Fenway Racing wheelman will attempt to grab another top-ten at Texas, a track where he’s never finished higher than 15th.
Gridiron Gang – NFL Stars To Appear At Texas Motor Speedway: Four NFL players will attend Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Headlining the group is Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams. Joining him are his teammates, tight end Rico Gathers, a former Baylor basketball star, as well as center Joe Looney. Detroit Lions defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson – a 2015 consensus All-American and national champion at Alabama – will also take in the race.