Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch are still in the hunt in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Kenseth tied for the lead with Jimmie Johnson and Busch sitting 36 markers back in fifth place. This week’s Chase race takes the Cup stars to Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, as well as Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge for the Nationwide Series.
Kenseth, in the No. 20 Home Depot “Let’s Do This” Toyota Camry, has two previous wins at TMS: in 2002 and the spring of 2011. Kenseth has the best average finish of any active driver in the Cup Series at 8.5, with 15 top 10 finishes in 22 races. Kenseth will also be in the No. 18 GameStop/Battlefield 4 Toyota Camry on Saturday during the Nationwide Series race – he also has two wins in that series at TMS, in 2004 and spring of 2007. He has 14 top 10 finishes in 16 starts in the Nationwide Series, an average finish of 7.2, and two pole positions.
Busch, in the No. 18 Snickers Toyota on Sunday, won his first Cup race at TMS in April of this year. Busch has seven top 10 finishes in 16 races at the track, with an average finish of 14.1. Busch is doing triple-duty this weekend at Texas, racing his own Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra Friday night in the Camping World Truck Series race and the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry for JGR in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday. In addition to two Truck Series wins, Busch also has six Nationwide Series wins and 13 top 10 finishes in 15 races, with an average finish of 6.5; he also has three poles.
Denny Hamlin, in the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota on Sunday, has two wins of his own at TMS, sweeping both events in 2010. He has eight top 10 finishes in 15 starts, but missed the spring race with his back injury. Hamlin will also sub for Brian Vickers in the Nationwide Series, his first start of the season, in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota. Hamlin has seven top 10 finishes in starts at TMS in the series, but is still looking for a win.
Joining Kenseth, Busch and Hamlin in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday is Elliott Sadler in the No. 11 OneMain Financial Toyota; he’ll also be racing in the Cup Series race as a sub for Vickers in the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. In the Nationwide Series, Sadler has five top 10 finishes in 11 Texas starts, while he earned one of his three Cup Series wins at Texas back in 2004 – the closest Cup Series margin of victory at the track (.028-seconds over Kasey Kahne).
Qualifying for the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway takes place Friday at 3:40 p.m. CT, with the green flag flying on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT. Qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge takes place Saturday at 11:05 a.m. CT, with the race going green at 2:30 p.m. CT. Keep up with the action at www.nascar.com and joegibbsracing.com.
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