The next round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is here starting with the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway this Sunday. Kevin Harvick rolls in as the favorite at +250 then there is a slight gap before you see Denny Hamlin at +450.
Harvick has nine wins this season and is second in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings after Kansas. Joey Logano (+800) locked himself into the top spot this week following his win.
The wild card this week could be Texas Motor Speedway itself. Jimmie Johnson has been the king of the track throughout his career but he’s not been a factor for the win this season. His last win came in 2017 where he won three times. One of those wins was Texas. Since then, Harvick has won at the track three times.
The favorites at +900 and below to win the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500, according to Intertops, are listed below. Of the six favorites below, only Harvick and Hamlin have won a race at the track in the last ten races there. Also, of the six, only three have won Cup Series races at Texas; Harvick, Hamlin, and Joey Lagano.
Eight drivers remain in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs but there was some shakeup following the Kansas race weekend. Joey Logano jumped from being below the cutline to being locked into the Championship final four drivers. His Kansas win locks him into the final race with three other drivers.
Chase Elliott fell below the cutline after Kansas while Brad Keselowski moved into the fourth spot. There are two more races – this weekend at Texas then Martinsville – before the four remaining driver race for the Championship in Phoenix.
Denny Hamlin has won three of the last six races at Texas Motor Speedway with 12 top-five and 23 top- ten finishes at the track. Over the last twelve races at Texas, Harvick has never finished outside of the top-ten. He’s probably locked into the final race of the year on points – but a win takes any possibility of not being one of the four Championship drivers at Phoenix off the table.
Chase Elliott +750
Chase Elliott looked to be the winner last week at Kansas for much of the race but radio communications forced him to pit to fix the problem. He has been one of the stronger cars towards the end of the season and he’s raced well at Texas in the past. He’s looking to get back above the cutline.
Kyle Busch +1400
Kyle Busch is a nice value pick this week at +1400. His last win at Texas was the Spring race of 2018 and he has three Cup Series wins at the track. Busch has been inconsistent all season and has been eliminated from racing for the Championship and defending his Cup Series title. He would love to be the spoiler this weekend.
Others I like
Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr: Both Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr are still in the playoffs looking to be one of the four drivers racing for the Cup Series Championship in a few weeks. The weird fact is that neither has won at Texas Motor Speedway so that’s why they are not included in my picks above.
One Fantasy Driver
Here’s the guy I round out my fantasy team with this week – Kurt Busch! Over the last ten races at Texas, the elder of the Busch brothers has finished in the top-ten nine times. That’s a pretty strong stat.
Kent Whitaker is an award-winning author, culinary writer and
sports writer. Whitaker's books range from BBQ, Grilling, Tailgating and additional
culinary titles to WWII history books, books about NASCAR and racing and titles
Whitaker, known as “the Deck Chef,” has a culinary, history
and journalism background. He credits this for his cookbook writing style. “My
books are people based. I interview, gather recipes from real people and
sources – and combine the recipes with back-stories. My cookbooks are slices of
Whitaker can also be found on TV, Radio, Print, and as a
celebrity spokesperson. He has appeared on radio and TV including Food Network.
He’s the Emeril Live Barbecue Contest winner and columnist for the National
Whitaker has covered NASCAR, IndyCar, ARCA Racing, The NFL,
SEC Football, Professional Golf and more. His books include:
·Great American Grilling – Ultimate Backyard Barbecue
·The Gulf Coast Seafood Cookbook
·Smoke in the Mountains - The Art of Appalachian
·Checkered Flag Cooking - Tailgating Stock Car Racing
·The Hometown Cookbook Series; The Tennessee Hometown Cookbook,
as well as Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, West
Virginia, Alabama, and Florida.
·The USS Alabama - The History of the Mighty A
·Bullets and Bread - Feeding the Greats and Grunts of
·Big Mo's Tennis Ball Hunt
the Mountains Smokey?
Kent has worked with several brands as spokesperson. Companies
include Check Mark, ALPO, TimberTech, Vermont Castings, Pabst Blue Ribbon, E.H.
Campbell Trading, Big Show Foods, and others. Whitaker, and his wife Allyson,
hosted a NASCAR and racing themed show on ESPN Radio for several years. That
show has morphed into a weekly short format tailgate show heard on over 50
Kent is also a member of the United States Coast Guard
Auxiliary and severed on the National Staff as an AUXCHEF/AUX Food Service
Specialist and National Branch Chief.
Kent and his wife Allyson live in Tennessee and have one ARMY
Strong son, Macee. You can visit him online at www.thedeckchef.com and Twitter/Instagram