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NASCAR: Who to watch at Texas - April 3rd through 6th, 2014

Jimmie Johnson has won two of the last three Cup races at Texas
Jimmie Johnson has won two of the last three Cup races at Texas
Getty Images for TMS: Chris Graythen

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series head to the Lone Star State for this weekend’s Duck Commander 500 and O’Reilly Auto Parts 300, respectively, at Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth, Texas. Both series come to the 1.5-mile track with storied seasons unfolding, as the Cup Series has boasted six winners in the season’s first six races, and the Nationwide Series is seeing an upswing in young talent in its ranks, any of which could break through and beat the Cup Series regulars that routinely invade the series.

Kyle Busch, who earned his first Cup Series win of the season at Auto Club Speedway, is one of the invaders who will be tough to beat in both series – he’s the defending champ in both spring races, the first driver to sweep the races in the track’s history. Busch has just last spring’s Cup Series win at TMS, but has two Camping World Truck Series wins and a series-leading six in the Nationwide Series.

"It's a fun place," said Busch of Texas Motor Speedway. "It's really challenging because of the flatness of the corners, getting into the corners, and then they're so banked through the turns and then the exits of the corners, they kind of fall off really quickly. It's an interesting facility. It keeps you on your toes."

Jimmie Johnson, who is among the winless still this season, comes to Texas as winner of two of the last three races at the track. Johnson has three wins overall at Texas, along with 6 top 10s in 21 starts and an average finish of 8.7 – bested only by Matt Kenseth’s average finish of 8.3.

"Truthfully, every team has good tracks and bad tracks," said Johnson. "I think on the calendar our good tracks are placed kind of spring and fall - the Dovers, Martinsville, Texas - those types of tracks, and we're getting into them. Hopefully, we can get something here early to check that box and progress through the regular season and make sure our car's right because there's a lot of change going on and a lot of speed to still find in our race cars and then buckle down in the Chase. We've always operated well in the Chase, and again, a lot of it is because those tracks are really our strong tracks."

In the Nationwide Series, Texas native James Buescher, 2012 Truck Series champ, is running his first full-time season in the series – one of a number of talented rookies looking to beat the likes of Busch, Kevin Harvick or Dale Earnhardt Jr. to victory lane this weekend. The 24-year-old from Plano, Texas, driving for RAB Racing this season, will be joined at his home track by his cousin Chris, 2012 ARCA Racing Series champ and driver for Roush Fenway Racing; Chris Buescher hails from Prosper, Texas.

"It's been a while since I've competed fulltime against my cousin, Chris," said James Buescher. "We've both worked really hard in our careers to get to where we are and it's great that we're back on the track competing against each other on a weekly basis. So far this season, we've run close to each other, but I treat him like any other competitor."

James sits ninth in points, while Chris sits 11th.

The Nationwide Series qualifies for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 on Friday at 3:10 p.m. CT, followed by the green flag at 7:30 p.m. CT. The Sprint Cup Series qualifies for the Duck Commander 500 on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. CT with the race going green Sunday at 2 p.m. CT. Keep up with the action at www.nascar.com.

Quotes in this piece provided by Texas Motor Speedway.

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