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April 13, 2012

IN THE FAST LANE: Look for Kenseth, Stewart to be up front at Texas

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — After its first off-weekend of the 2012 season, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.

Over the years, Texas has been known for its steep banking, fast speeds and crazy incidents. If you want an ideal Texas race, just look at the 2010 fall event.

But I am sure those of you out there who despise my descriptions of certain tracks will say I’m wrong. You will probably say that Texas is just another typical mile-and-a-half track on the Cup schedule.

If that is the way you feel, fine — whatever.

I am just basing my description of TMS from all the races I have watched on TV at the track over the years. And the majority of them have been exciting to watch, but that’s my opinion.

Here is the picks:

SATURDAY’S SAMSUNG MOBILE 500

At Texas Motor Speedway


TOP-FIVE CONTENDERS

1. MATT KENSETH:
Texas is one of Kenseth’s strongest tracks. The 2003 Cup champion has a career average finish of 8.7 at TMS, which includes nine top-10 finishes in the last 10 starts. Kenseth has two wins at Texas, including a victory in this race last year.

2. TONY STEWART: He won the fall race at Texas last year and it looked really good doing it. That race last year helped Stewart win the 2011 Sprint Cup championship and helped him carry momentum in the early part of 2012.

3. DENNY HAMLIN: The Joe Gibbs Racing driver swept both Texas races in 2010 and has a career average finish at TMS of 10.2. Last year, Hamlin was not as strong at Texas as he has been. But I think with Stewart’s old crew chief, Darian Grubb, atop the No. 11 pit box, Hamlin has a good chance of redeeming himself at the high-speed track on Saturday night.

4. GREG BIFFLE: He has seven consecutive top-10 finishes at Texas, including fourth- and fifth-place finishes last year. Biffle should continue that hot streak at TMS this weekend and remain the Sprint Cup points leader.

5. JIMMIE JOHNSON: OK, I’m going to write the same boring statement every time I pick Johnson on a mile-and-a-half track — you can never count Johnson out on these tracks. His career average finish of 10.2 at Texas backs that statement up.

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