Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
As the round of 16 concludes, the NASCAR season moves on to the round of 12. The first race will be held at Fort Worth, Texas, around the Texas Motor Speedway. Who will emerge from the blocks, and make a statement of intent? Can any of the playoff drivers win the race, and snatch the golden ticket to the next round?
Bristol Race Debrief
An amazing Saturday night of NASCAR racing in Bristol last week capped off the round of 16, which saw Michael McDowell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano get eliminated.
Christopher Bell took the first two stages, rather easily. However, pit road mishaps led to Bell falling back to fifth, but he held on and finished third. Gibbs led the start of stage three but got overtaken by veterans Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson, which would see him fall to sixth, but Gibbs overtook McDowell for fifth, late in the race.
Hamlin was challenged by Larson on restarts, but held his ground until the end, and he took his third win of the season, and his third career win around Bristol.
Texas Track Preview
The Texas Motor Speedway is located in Fort Worth, Texas. A 1.5 mile (2.42 kilometers) intermediate track, it has a comparatively low banking of 20 degrees and 24 degrees in each of the two turns. NASCAR used to host two races in Texas, one in the regular season, and one in the postseason. However, only the postseason race survived, and 2023 will be the 19th running of this race.
This year also marks the first year of the event being shortened from 500 miles, down to 400 miles, which was due to the length of the race, and record breaking amount of cautions from last year’s race. Due to the race being cut short, drivers will approach the race more aggressively, and crew chiefs may plan a more ambitious strategy.
The race will commence on the 24th of September, at 15:30 ET (12:30 PT, 21:30 CEST). The weather forecast also shows no signs of rain for the weekend, with clear skies around the speedway.
This has been a track where the Chevrolet cars perform extraordinarily, and Tyler Reddick is the most recent winner of the Texas race.
When talking about the drivers with the best odds to win the race, we simply could not exclude Kyle Larson. He is on a hot streak recently, consistently running at the front, and challenging for the win. He won this race in 2021, edging out teammate William Byron for the win in overtime restart. Texas is a big opening for him to carry the momentum he has, and win the race.
On the other hand, the Toyotas are no pushovers either. JGR’s star driver Martin Truex Jr escaped elimination in Bristol, and he will look to get back on track with wins and top finishes. He survived the toughest part of the postseason, and he could kickstart a turnaround, here in Texas.