Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
It’s a “short week” for NASCAR drivers off running the All-Star Race in Bristol on Wednesday as the Cup Series circuit heads to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on Sunday for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, which was shifted from March 29 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a 3:00pm ET start time for what is scheduled to be the first of two visits to Texas this season: The Texas 500 Round of 8 playoff race is set for October 25.
Both events technically are 501 miles (334 laps; Stages 1&2 are 105 miles each and Stage 3 is 124) as Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile quad-oval track with 20-degree banking in Turns 1-2 and 24 degrees in Turns 3-4. It’s a similar layout to the speedways in Atlanta and Charlotte, which like Texas are owned by Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
In a nice move, Texas Motor Speedway recently held graduation ceremonies for 23 area high schools this spring – with each graduate getting their diploma (hands free) in “Victory Lane.” This being Texas, the race winner receives a pair of cowboy boots, a white cowboy hat, and a pair of six-shooters to fire off in Victory Lane.
Kyle Busch is among the favorites at +625 and a three-time winner of this event for Joe Gibbs Racing. He most recently was victorious in 2018 starting from the eighth spot in the field. That was a wreck- and caution-filled race, with Busch edging Kevin Harvick by three-tenths of a second. Busch, who won the second stage, led for 116 laps and Harvick, who won the first stage, led 87.
No one else has won at Texas three times, but five other drivers have won twice. That includes defending champion Denny Hamlin, also of Joe Gibbs Racing and also +625 Sunday. Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota led the final 12 laps and finished more than 2.7 seconds ahead of Clint Bowyer. Hamlin overcame two penalties on pit road. He also won this event in 2010 and has a fall race win at Texas as well.
Jimmie Johnson holds the record among active drivers with seven wins at Texas, with two in this event: 2015 and 2017. He’s +2200. Harvick has won three times at Texas but not in this race. He’s the +300 favorite.
Erik Jones has the best average finish of 9.4 among active drivers at Texas but hasn’t won yet in seven tries overall. Jones is +2700. Chase Elliott, who won Wednesday’s All-Star race, is +750.