Chase for the Sprint Cup driver analysis for Texas Motor Speedway

galleryTitle description galleryUrl thumbnail
Most Embarrassing Sports Records Most Embarrassing Sports Records /boxing/lists/Most_Embarrassing_Sports_Records http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/02/wallace2_20121202145912105_136_102.JPG
NASCAR national series wins leaders Top 10 photo gallery list of NASCAR national series all time wins leaders /nascar/lists/NASCAR_national_series_wins_leaders http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/06/03/060313-nascar-Kyle-Busch-TV-Pi_20130603090801770_136_102.JPG
NASCAR's band of brothers NASCAR's band of brothers top racing family photo list /nascar/lists/Brothers-in-NASCAR http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2010/12/21/brotherlylove-pi_20101221112004663_136_102.JPG
Not all open-wheel stars find succes in trying NASCAR Open-wheel drivers who did not find long term success in NASCAR /nascar/lists/Open-wheel-drivers-who-did-not-find-long-term-success-in-NASCAR-072512 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/07/23/072312-Nascar-Franchitti-CAUTION-FLAG-DG-PI_20120723160819960_136_102.JPG
categoryName categoryId galleryId galleryTitle mediaId imageTitle imageURL league description shortDescription attribution large thumbnail
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31399520 Three to go ... Three+to+go+...+ NASCAR

There are a lot of wins at Texas Motor Speedway sprinkled among drivers contending in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Can one of these title contenders extend the streak of these drivers sweeping races in the Chase?

Several of the top stars endured setbacks at some point in last Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway. Now, they're looking to get back in top form.

Meanwhile, the pair at the top remain almost even with three races to go.

So who is in trouble after Martinsville? And who looks ready to roll through Texas?

Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/1_20121030113034130_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/1_20121030113034130_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31396079 Jimmie Johnson Jimmie+Johnson NASCAR

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Points position: First

Gained/lost this week: Johnson led the most laps and won at Martinsville Speedway, taking the points lead for the second time in the Chase. Johnson has been no worse than second in the points since the Chase started.

Analysis of Chase to date: Johnson is starting to show familiar strength in the format. He has six top-10 finishes in the seven Chase races, including Sunday’s win and a pair of runner-up finishes. For Johnson, that has kept him at or near the front. Now he’s two points ahead of Brad Keselowski with three races to go.

Outlook in coming races: Johnson shines in this segment of the Chase – especially when he’s in the hunt for the title. This season should be no different. At Texas, he has 18 starts with one victory. He has 13 top-10 finishes, eight of them top fives. He has an average finish of 9.722 at the track and has led 275 laps there.
 

AP Photo/Autostock, Brian Czobat - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/2_20121030113034128_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/2_20121030113034128_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31399517 Brad Keselowski Brad+Keselowski NASCAR

Team: Penske Racing

Points position: Second, two points behind Johnson

Gained/lost this week: Keselowski rallied from a tough start to the weekend at Martinsville, qualifying 32nd and then coming back to finish sixth after leading a lap. That kept him in striking distance of the race winner. Although he lost the championship lead, Keselowski remains two points off the pace.

Analysis of Chase to date: Keselowski has enjoyed a heightened level of consistency in the Chase. He has top-10 finishes in six of the seven races, with a worst finish of 11th in the format. He has been no worse than second in the standings since completing the first Chase race and sits in striking distance of Jimmie Johnson now. Plus, Keselowski has one more win than Johnson - five to four with three races to go.

Outlook in coming races: Keselowski hasn’t exactly owned Texas. He has eight starts there – and is seeking his first top-10 finish. He has led 34 laps but has an average finish of 25.250. Still, throughout this Chase Keselowski and his Paul Wolfe-led team have shown the ability to rise to the occasion and find a new level of success at a variety of tracks.
 

AP Photo/Steve Sheppard - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/3_20121030113034131_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/3_20121030113034131_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31401336 Clint Bowyer Clint+Bowyer NASCAR

Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

Points position: Third, 26 points behind Johnson

Gained/lost this week: Bowyer finished fifth at Martinsville to continue to hang near the front pair in the Chase. He gained one spot, to third, in the standings but lost a point to leader Johnson.

Analysis of Chase to date: Bowyer has really been coming on strong of late in the Chase. He has a worst finish of sixth in his last three races. Sunday at Martinsville, he led 154 laps and looked on track to challenge for his fourth Cup win of the year, and second of the Chase, before finishing fifth. Bowyer and his team are in great position to strike if Keselowski and Johnson hit a speed bump in the final trio of races.

Outlook in coming races: Bowyer has become increasingly competitive in recent weeks – so look for him to continue to be a threat race to race. In 13 starts at Texas, he has seven top-10 finishes, three of them top fives. He has an average finish of 13.308 with 84 laps led.
 

AP Photo/Autostock, Brian Czobat - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/4_20121030113034129_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/4_20121030113034129_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31402313 Kasey Kahne Kasey+Kahne NASCAR

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Points position: Fourth, 29 points behind Johnson

Gained/lost this week: Kahne finished third at Martinsville. That jumped him one spot in the standings, and helped him shave a crucial point off his deficit to the leader.

Analysis of Chase to date: Kahne, too, has been picking up the pace of late. He has a worst finish of fourth in his last two races, has three consecutive top-10 finishes and has finished in that group in five of the seven Chase races. He has a worst finish of 15th in the Chase.

Outlook in coming races: Kahne needs to win to get back into the heart of the Chase race. Can he do that at Texas? In 16 starts at the track, he has one win. He has five top-10 finishes, four of them top fives, for an average finish of 18.813 there. He has led 218 prior laps. But, like some others, Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis have stepped up the pace of late in the Chase and should turn in a more stellar result this time.
 

Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/5_20121030113033126_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/5_20121030113033126_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31399516 Denny Hamlin Denny+Hamlin NASCAR

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Points position: Fifth, 49 behind Johnson

Gained/lost this week: Hamlin took a huge hit at a track where he expected to win Sunday. A mechanical problem relegated him to a 33rd-place finish – and decimated his Chase hopes. Hamlin had entered the race third in the standings and just 20 points back, he’s now more than a race behind Johnson.

Analysis of Chase to date: Despite some setbacks, Hamlin was holding on in the Chase and looked like he was on the verge of making a major move – until last weekend. Now, after faltering at Martinsville, he’s fighting for position and waiting on someone ahead of him to stumble.

Outlook in coming races: Hamlin has a strong history of top runs at Texas, so he could really ramp up the performance this time. In 14 Texas starts, he has two wins. He has eight top-10 finishes, five of them top fives, with an average finish of 10.286. He has led 131 laps at the track.
 

AP Photo/Autostock, Nigel Kinrade - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/6_20121030113033127_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/6_20121030113033127_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31399522 Jeff Gordon Jeff+Gordon NASCAR

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Points position: Sixth, 54 points behind Johnson

Gained/lost this week: Gordon led 92 laps at Martinsville and looked like he would be in position to challenge for the win, but he got held up on a late restart and settled for seventh. He went up two spots in the standings, but gave up three points to leader Johnson.

Analysis of Chase to date: Gordon has five top-10 finishes in the Chase, but a pair of setbacks that left him with runs of 35th and 18th have cost him a shot at the title.

Outlook in coming races: Gordon has enjoyed a win at Texas, but it’s not his best track in the Chase. It’s one of the few he has struggled to master in his career. In 23 starts, he has the lone win and 11 top-10 finishes, eight of them top fives, for an average finish of 16.217. He has led 584 laps at Texas.
 

AP Photo/Colin E. Braley - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/7_20121030113048134_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/7_20121030113048134_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31399519 Martin Truex Jr. Martin+Truex+Jr. NASCAR

Team: Michael Waltrip Racing

Points position: Seventh, 63 points behind Johnson

Gained/lost this week: Truex finished 23rd at Martinsville, dropping him a spot in the standings – and adding 20 points to his deficit to the leader.

Analysis of Chase to date: Truex has enjoyed some strong performances in the Chase, most notably finishing second at Kansas. He has four top-10 finishes in the segment, but has struggled to land the level of consistency needed for a championship bid.

Outlook in coming races: In 14 starts at Texas, Truex has seven top-10 finishes, one of them a top five. He has also started from the pole position twice. He has an average finish of 16.143 at the track and has led 89 laps there.
 

Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/8_20121030113048133_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/8_20121030113048133_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31399521 Matt Kenseth Matt+Kenseth NASCAR

Team: Roush Fenway Racing

Points position: Seventh, 65 points behind Johnson

Gained/lost this week: Kenseth struggled through much of the race at Martinsville, finishing 14th. That performance helped him gain a spot in the standings, but he lost 10 points to Johnson.

Analysis of Chase to date: Kenseth has been all over the board in the Chase. He’s enjoyed two wins, suffered a setback that left him 35th at Dover and has three finishes of 14th. That’s not going to get him his second title.

Outlook in coming races: Kenseth is looking to regain lost ground this Sunday at Texas. In 20 starts at the track, he has two wins. He has 14 top-10 finishes, 11 of them top fives, and has an average finish of 8.550. He has led 771 laps there.
 

Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/9_20121030113051136_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/9_20121030113051136_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31399523 Greg Biffle Greg+Biffle NASCAR

Team: Roush Fenway Racing

Points position: Ninth, 69 points behind Johnson

Gained/lost this week: Biffle fought hard for a 10th-place finish at Martinsville. That bumped him up two spots to ninth in the standings, but he fell seven more points into the hole.

Analysis of Chase to date: Biffle started the Chase in a hole, with finishes of 13th, 18th and 16th in the first three races. Since then, he’s posted top-10 finishes in three of the four races. Still, it’s been too little, too late, as he was already too far off the pace to regain on the leaders.

Outlook in coming races: In 17 starts at Texas, Biffle has two wins. He has 10 top-10 finishes, seven of them top fives, for an average finish of 16.235 at the track. He has led 732 laps there and started from the pole position once.
 

Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/10_20121030113123138_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/10_20121030113123138_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31399525 Tony Stewart Tony+Stewart NASCAR

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Points position: 10th, 71 points behind Johnson

Gained/lost this week: Stewart finished 27th at Martinsville, further hampering his Chase bid. He fell three spots to 10th and lost 24 more points to the leader.

Analysis of Chase to date: The defending series champion has battled inconsistency in the Chase races. He has three top-10 finishes, and three worse than 20th. That has left him well outside the running for the title.

Outlook in coming races: In 21 starts at Texas, Stewart has two wins. He has 11 top-10 finishes, five of them top fives, for an average finish of 13.095. He has led 727 laps at the track and started from the pole position once.
 

Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/11_20121030113125141_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/11_20121030113125141_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31399524 Kevin Harvick Kevin+Harvick NASCAR

Team: Richard Childress Racing

Points position: 11th, 88 points behind Johnson

Gained/lost this week: Harvick finished 32nd at Martinsville with an engine failure, further hampering his shot at a good finish in the Chase. He dropped one spot to 11th, and added 29 points to his deficit to the leader.

Analysis of Chase to date: This simply has not been Harvick’s best Chase. He has a top finish of 11th in the segment and now suffered the Martinsville setback. This weekend, he’s fighting to break back into the top 10.

Outlook in coming races: In 19 starts at Texas, Harvick has nine top-10 finishes, three of them top fives. He has an average finish of 12.684 with five laps led.
 

Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/12_20121030113125142_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/12_20121030113125142_107_80.JPG
NASCAR 167 43 Closing in: Chase for the Sprint Cup analysis for Texas 31399526 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale+Earnhardt+Jr. NASCAR

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Points position: 12th, 140 behind Johnson

Gained/lost this week: Earnhardt Jr. returned to the racetrack after a two-race absence, finishing 21st after running in the top 10 for much of the afternoon. He remained 12th in the standings, but lost 18 more points to Johnson.

Analysis of Chase to date: Earnhardt Jr. has enjoyed some strong runs in the Chase, but missing two races ended any shot at a top-10 finish.

Outlook in coming races: Earnhardt Jr. has performed well at Texas in the past. In 20 starts there, he has one win. He has 11 top-10 finishes, three of them top fives, for an average finish of 13.9. He has led 448 Texas laps.
 

AP Photo/Steve Helber - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/13_20121030113136144_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/10/30/13_20121030113136144_107_80.JPG
EndCap Fox Sports Video and Photo Gallery
thumbnail galleryTitle shortDescription longDescription blurb galUpdated pageNumber totalPages galleryUrl
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/02/wallace2_20121202145912105_136_102.JPG Most Embarrassing Sports Records Most Embarrassing Sports Records Most Embarrassing Sports Records Most Embarrassing Sports Records Oct 1, 2013 7:23 AM ET 1 10 /boxing/lists/Most_Embarrassing_Sports_Records
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/06/03/060313-nascar-Kyle-Busch-TV-Pi_20130603090801770_136_102.JPG NASCAR national series wins leaders Top 10 photo gallery list of NASCAR national... Top 10 photo gallery list of NASCAR national series all time wins leaders Kyle Busch may be frustrated with his Cup close calls, but look where he ranks overall. Jun 3, 2013 9:42 AM ET 1 10 /nascar/lists/NASCAR_national_series_wins_leaders
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2010/12/21/brotherlylove-pi_20101221112004663_136_102.JPG NASCAR's band of brothers NASCAR's band of brothers top racing family... NASCAR's band of brothers top racing family photo list Some families bring a lot of talent to NASCAR. Jun 3, 2013 8:52 AM ET 1 10 /nascar/lists/Brothers-in-NASCAR
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/07/23/072312-Nascar-Franchitti-CAUTION-FLAG-DG-PI_20120723160819960_136_102.JPG Not all open-wheel stars find succes in trying NASCAR Open-wheel drivers who did not find long term... Open-wheel drivers who did not find long term success in NASCAR Not all open-wheel stars find NASCAR success easy. Jun 3, 2013 8:50 AM ET 1 10 /nascar/lists/Open-wheel-drivers-who-did-not-find-long-term-success-in-NASCAR-072512