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Martin Truex Jr. became the first driver to qualify for the 2019 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Championship round.
The 2017 champion secured a spot in the Homestead finale for the third consecutive year.
It came after a dominant run at Martinsville for his first career win at the Paperclip.
Texas will offer a second chance to the other seven drivers.
After this weekend, only Phoenix will remain before the field is finally set for the championship decider.
Where: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX
When: Sunday, November 3rd at 3:00 PM EST
How: NBCSN (TV) | Performance Racing Network (Web radio) | NBC Sports App
Kevin Harvick is the man to beat at Texas.
The Stewart-Haas driver has ten consecutive top 10 finishes at the track, including seven inside the top 5.
Prior to this year’s race in March, Harvick had scored three consecutive top 2 finishes, with two wins.
He did not have a very good day in the race, finishing eighth without leading a single lap.
But Stewart-Haas and especially Harvick have improved by leaps and bounds since then.
The 2014 champion is the defending AAA 500 winner as well, having scored back-to-back victories in 2017 and 2018, securing his spot in the Final Four.
He also led a combined 379 laps in the last five starts at the track, collecting four stage wins.
Expect Harvick to look like his old self this weekend.
Denny Hamlin, meanwhile, finally managed to regain his old form at Texas earlier this year.
The Joe Gibbs driver returned to victory lane at the track for the first time in nine years.
Hamlin swept Texas in 2010 but struggled after that.
He only had four top 10 finishes in 15 races before his win in March.
But given his 2019 form and recent playoff streak, it looks like #11 could add another victory to his count.
Hamlin led 45 laps in March and also scored a stage 2 win.
Kyle Busch is another driver with a good record at Texas despite some poor results in recent years.
The Joe Gibbs driver has three career wins at the track, having scored two in his last seven starts.
While Busch has an impressive record of eight top 5 finishes in the last 15 races, he has three results outside the top 10 in the last five races.
On the other hand, the 2015 champion did lead a race-high 66 laps in March, despite finishing down in tenth.
Given his good overall record at Texas, Busch will likely be among the favorites.
Joey Logano has been the model for consistency at Texas since joining Team Penske.
He has only missed out on a top 10 finish three times in 13 starts.
Logano scored his only career win at the track in 2014.
He scored five top 5 finishes in ten races after that.
Despite finishing down in 17th earlier this year, Logano did lead eight laps while also scoring a stage 1 victory.
Texas is arguably Martin Truex Jr‘s worst track in the Round of 8.
While the Joe Gibbs driver does not have a bad record, it’s below his average at other venues.
Consistency hasn’t been an issue either, as #19 has seven top 10 finishes in the last ten races.
Truex, however, has been lacking that extra boost to carry him to a race win.
Despite having led a combined 363 laps during that span, he only has two top 5 finishes, one second and one third place.
If Truex does manage to step up and find that extra bit of pace, he could be among the contenders this weekend.
And this season has seen the 2017 champion take that extra step at all tracks, including the ones at which he had never won.
Coming off a dominant run and a first career win at Martinsville, there are plenty of reasons to believe that he could pull off a similar feat at Texas.
Ryan Blaney came close to winning at Texas in recent years.
The Team Penske driver started last year’s AAA 500 from the pole and led 40 laps on his way to a runner-up finish.
Blaney again had a very good showing earlier this year.
He led 45 laps early on and looked set to fight for the win, but an engine issue forced him out of the race.
For the first time in his career, Blaney is in a position to move into the Championship Round.
Texas seems to be the most likely place for it to happen, especially as Penske turns its efforts to #12 and Logano’s #22.
Blaney is looking like a genuine championship contender at the moment and is coming off a great run at Martinsville.
The latest odds for AAA Texas 500 are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook.
|Martin Truex Jr.||+500|
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