When drivers hit the Texas Motor Speedway pavement Friday, it will mark the first time stock cars have officially been on the track since it underwent itssecond re-pave. The track alsoadded a drainage system on the frontstretch and backstretch and re-profiledTurns 1 and 2 (banking reduced from 24 to 20 degrees, racing surface expanded from 60 to 80 feet wide).
Jimmie Johnson hopes the new changes can turn around his season, which to date includes just one top-10 finish for the defending champion.Johnsonboasts a track-record six wins, including a streak of three consecutive victories from fall of 2014 to fall of 2015.
In addition to his victories, Johnson claims 14 top fives, 20 top 10s and an 8.4 average finish at the 1.5-mile track.
It's no surprise he's one of the favorites to win despite a slow start to the season.
What are the Las Vegas odds for the NASCAR race at Texas?
Here are the race odds according to the Westgate Sportsbook:
Brad Keselowski, 6:1
Kyle Larson, 6:1
Martin Truex Jr., 6:1
Kevin Harvick, 7:1
Chase Elliott, 7:1
Joey Logano, 7:1
Kyle Busch, 8:1
Jimmie Johnson, 10:1
Matt Kenseth, 15:1
Denny Hamlin, 20:1
Dale Earnhardt Jr., 25:1
Clint Bowyer, 25:1
Jamie McMurray, 30:1
Kasey Kahne, 40:1
Ryan Blaney, 40:1
Erik Jones, 40:1
Ryan Newman, 40:1
Kurt Busch, 40:1
Key stats to know for Texas'O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
— Kyle BuschandDenny Hamlinhave participated in the most Cup Series races at Texaswithout posting a DNF (22 each).
— Twenty-fiveof the 32 (78.1 percent) Cup Series races at Texashave been won from a top-10 starting position.
—The third-place starting position is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Texas Motor Speedway, producing more wins than any other starting position (six).
—Kevin Harvickleads the series among active drivers with the most Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway without visiting victory lane at 28.
Which drivers are best for fantasy NASCAR in Texas?
Jimmie Johnsonleads the series in top-five finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 14; followed byMatt Kenseth(13) andKyle Buschwith 11. Kenseth will provide the most salary relief of the three and is one of the most consistent drivers at the track, ranking in the top three overall in average finish (8.26), average running position (9.13), driver rating, and laps in the top 15.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. may not have the best odds to win but he should provide a top-10finish based on his loop data at Texas. Junior owns top-10 scoring in a handful of categories including average finish, average running position, driver rating, fastest laps run, average green flag speed, laps in the top 15, and quality passes.
Who are the sleepers to win the NASCAR race at Texas?
The past four races at Texas, Kasey Kahne has an average finish of 11.0 with the eighth-most fastest laps recorded. He should be near the front at the end and should the race finish like it did earlier this year atPhoenix, Kahne could be in the position to steal a win.
Clint Bowyer has three top fives and 10top-10 finishes at Texas in his career. He scored a runner-up to Matt Kenseth in the spring race of 2011 but has struggled since. The No. 14 driver has a 12.7 average finish so far this year
Kyle Busch isn't a sleeper but he's our pick to win the race and continue his recent success at Texas. Busch has recordedfive straight top-five finishes and top-fives in seven of his last eight races at the Lone Star track.