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One Hot Lap: NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying at Texas Is Significant

Through 43 NASCAR Cup Series races held at Texas Motor Speedway, 76% of them have been won from a top-10 starting position, making Busch Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday, April 13 (10:30 a.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) especially significant to the teams this weekend.

The third starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field producing more winners (eight) than any other starting spot on the grid.

A total of 26 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won the pole at Texas Motor Speedway, and seven of the 26 are active this weekend.

Active Texas Pole WinnersPolesSeasons
Brad Keselowski22022, 2015
Jimmie Johnson22019, 2012
Martin Truex Jr22012, 2007
Bubba Wallace12023
Ryan Blaney12018
Austin Dillon12016
Kyle Busch12013

Kurt Busch leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Texas with three (Spring 2015, Playoffs 2017, Spring 2018). Brad Keselowski (2016, 2022), Jimmie Johnson (2012, 2019) and Martin Truex Jr. (2007, 2012) lead all active drivers in NASCAR Cup Series poles at Texas Motor Speedway with two each.

Through the first eight races on the schedule this season, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott lead the NASCAR Cup Series in top-10 starts with six each.

All of the NASCAR Cup Series on-track action will get started with practice and Busch Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday, April 13 at 10:30 a.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

The Place: Texas Motor Speedway

The Date: Sunday, April 14

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

The Purse: $9,397,736

TV: FS1, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)

Distance: 400.5 miles (267 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 165), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)

William Byron grabs third win and a wave of early season momentum

The early season championship favorite spotlight has focused intently on Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron after grabbing his third victory of the season last weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Byron led a 1-2-3 Hendrick Motorsports finish at Martinsville on Sunday, with Kyle Larson finishing second and Chase Elliott in third. It was the first time a podium sweep by an organization has occurred at Martinsville. Now the 26-year old heads to Texas Motor Speedway riding a massive wave of momentum for the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 (Sunday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Byron now leads the series in Playoff points with 15. He has also collected a pole, three top fives and five top 10s this season to accompany his three wins.

Expect the early season momentum of success not to subside this weekend at Texas, Byron is the most recent winner at the 1.5-mile track taking home the trophy last September. In nine career Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway he has put up one win (2023), two top fives and five top 10s. His average finish at the track is 12.1 – fifth best among active drivers this weekend.

Ride ‘Em Cowboys! Drivers that have tamed Texas

A total of 23 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won at Texas Motor Speedway, and eight of the 23 Cup Series Texas winners are active this weekend.

Active Texas Race WinnersWinsSeasons
Jimmie Johnson72017, ’15 sweep, ’14, ’13, ’12, ’07
Kyle Busch42020, ’18, ’16, ’13
Denny Hamlin32019, ’10 sweep
William Byron12023
Tyler Reddick12022
Kyle Larson12021
Austin Dillon12020
Joey Logano12014

Legacy Motor Club’s Jimmie Johnson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Texas Motor Speedway with seven victories (2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 sweep and 2017) in 35 starts.

Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch has the second-most wins among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers at Texas Motor Speedway with four victories (2013, 2016, 2018, 2020) in 33 starts.

Last season’s NASCAR Cup Series Texas Motor Speedway winner, William Byron, returns to Texas to defend his win. If Byron were to win this weekend, he would become the fourth different driver to win consecutive points-paying races at Texas Motor Speedway; joining Jimmie Johnson (2014 Playoff race and 2015 sweep), Carl Edwards (2008 sweep) and Denny Hamlin (2010 sweep).

Keep On Streaking: Texas has produced seven different winners in as many races

William Byron is looking to become the fourth different driver in the NASCAR Cup Series to win back-to-back races at Texas Motor Speedway, but to do so he will have to snap a different winners streak that has reach seven different drivers dating back to 2019.

The current different winners streak at Texas consists of Denny Hamlin (2019-1), Kevin Harvick (2019-2), Austin Dillon (2020-1), Kyle Busch (2020-2), Kyle Larson (2021), Tyler Reddick (2022) and William Byron (2023).

Seven-time Is Back: Johnson to make second start of the season

Legacy Motor Club will be a little extra busy this week, as they will be fielding a third car for owner/driver and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Hall of Famers second start of the 2024 season.

Not only is Johnson known for his seven Cup titles, but he is also known for this success at Texas Motor Speedway, where he leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins with seven victories (2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 sweep and 2017) in 35 starts – a winning percentage of 20%.

Johnson’s first appearance of the season was in the DAYTONA 500, where he started 23rd and finished 28th. Johnson has announced a part-time schedule for 2024 that includes Texas Motor Speedway (April 14), Dover Motor Speedway (April 28), Kansas Speedway (May 5 and Sept. 29), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 21), Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 26), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 20) and Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 10).

Making Moves: Biggest movers positive or negative in the points

Since the season opener at Daytona International Speedway who are the biggest movers, positive or negative, in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings? Well, you might be surprised.

Currently, the five drivers to climb the most positions in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings from where they were ranked following Daytona are Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, who has gained +18 positions, Joey Logano, who has gained +16 positions, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., who has gained +14 positions, RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski and Front Row Motorsport’s Michael McDowell each have gained +13 positions in the driver standings since Week 1.

The top five drivers not going in the right direction in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings since Daytona are Spire Motorsport’s Zane Smith, who has dropped -21 positions since the season-opener, and Corey Lajoie, who has dropped -18 positions in the standings, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Noah Gragson, who has fallen -14 positions in the points, and Legacy Motor Club’s John Hunter Nemechek has dropped -13 positions and Erik Jones has dropped -11 positions.

Can anyone catch Hendrick Motorsports?

Celebrating their 40th anniversary, Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) is off to fast start this season having won four of the first eight races run (50%). HMS drivers William Byron (three wins) and Kyle Larson (one win) have already visited Victory Lane this season and now head back to Texas Motor Speedway where Larson won in 2021 and Byron won last season.

When it comes to winning in the Next Gen car, nobody has done it better than Byron and Larson. Byron leads the series with 10 victories in the Next Gen, while Larson has eight in the most recent iteration of the car in NASCAR’s premier series, which debuted in 2022.

And to boot, Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Texas Motor Speedway all-time, with 11 victories among five drivers: Terry Labonte (Spring 1999), Jeff Gordon (Spring 2009), Jimmie Johnson (Playoffs 2007, Playoffs 2012, Playoffs 2013, Playoffs 2014, Spring 2015, Playoffs 2015, Spring 2017), Kyle Larson (2021) and William Byron (2023).

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

TCU Football Coach Sonny Dykes named Grand Marshal for Texas – TCU head football coach Sonny Dykes, who guided the Horned Frogs to a CFP National Championship runner-up finish in 2022, has been named Grand Marshal for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, April 14, at Texas Motor Speedway.

“It’s an honor to represent TCU as the Grand Marshal for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400,” Dykes said. “I’m a NASCAR fan and this great opportunity is made even more special by it taking place at Texas Motor Speedway. TMS is such a historic venue and important part of the Fort Worth community. My family and I are very much looking forward to the race and the excitement that always comes with attending a NASCAR event.”

The Dykes-led Horned Frogs became the first team from the state of Texas to make the College Football Playoff and first from the Big 12 Conference to advance to the CFP National Championship. Dykes also became the first coach in TCU and Big 12 history to start the season 12-0 in his first season with the team en route to earning 10 National Coach of the Year awards in 2022.

“Coach Dykes is a NASCAR fan and that will make it even more special to provide an extraordinary experience for him and his family at Texas Motor Speedway for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400,” Texas Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Mark Faber said. “The Dykes name is renowned in Texas football, and Sonny continues to add to that legacy, especially with his recent accomplishments in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.”

Fort Worth’s Texas Boys Choir to sing National Anthem prior to Cup race at Texas – The world-renowned Grammy Award-winning Texas Boys Choir will perform the national anthem just minutes prior to the waving of the green flag to start the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on April 14.

The 40-young-man-strong choral group, organized in 1946 and based in Fort Worth since 1957, will sing The Star-Spangled Banner directly in front of the Machinery Auctioneers Pre-Race Stage on the grassy ballfield area near the speedway’s start/finish line. The national anthem performance will air across the country as part of FS1’s pre-race festivities.

“Texas Boys Choir is thrilled to sing the national anthem for NASCAR’s Triple-Header Weekend at Texas Motor Speedway on April 14,” said Texas Boys Choir Artistic Director Todd Prickett. “These young men aged 10-18 have been ‘setting the pace’ for boy choirs across the country for the last 78 years. We can’t wait to celebrate this timeless racing tradition with the amazing fans.”

Stat Watch: Upcoming Milestones in the NASCAR Cup Series – This weekend the NASCAR Cup Series will be at Martinsville Speedway, and below are a few of the possible milestones that can be achieved this Sunday and over the next few weeks.

 

Starts

William Byron will make his 225th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Texas Motor Speedway. Byron will become the 134th different driver to reach 225 starts or more in the series. Byron made his first Cup Series start at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18, 2018.

John H. Nemechek will make his 50th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Texas Motor Speedway. Nemechek will become the 311th different driver to reach 50 starts or more in the NASCAR Cup Series. Nemchek made his Cup Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway on November 3, 2019.

Michael McDowell will make his 475th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Talladega Superspeedway.

Alex Bowman is expected to make his 300th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Dover Motor Speedway.

Noah Gragson is expected to make his 50th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Dover Motor Speedway.

Ross Chastain is expected to make his 200th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Darlington Raceway.

Chase Elliott is expected to make his 300th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Corey Lajoie is expected to make his 250th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Wins

Denny Hamlin currently has 53 NASCAR Cup Series wins, if he were to win another race, he would tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty for 12th on the all-time wins list with 54 victories each.

Martin Truex Jr. currently has 34 NASCAR Cup Series wins, if he were to win another race, he would tie Brad Keselowski for 24th on the all-time wins list with 35 victories each.

Joey Logano currently has 32 NASCAR Cup Series wins, if he were to win another race, he would tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts for 27th on the all-time wins list with 33 victories each.

Kyle Larson currently has 24 NASCAR Cup Series wins, if he were to win another race, he would tie Jim Paschal and Joe Weatherly for 34th on the all-time wins list with 25 victories each.

First-time Cup winners at Texas are rare – Heading into this weekend 14 drivers that are entered in the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 are looking for their first NASCAR Cup Series career win, but they will have their work cut out for them because first-time winners are rare at Texas Motor Speedway.

Among the 23 different winners from the 43 Cup races at Texas, only two were first-time winners – Jeff Burton (April 6, 1997) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (April 2, 2000). It has been more than 20 years since the last a first-time Cup winner was crowned at Texas Motor Speedway.

This weekend, the hopefuls to get their first career Cup win are Josh Berry, Harrison Burton, Ty Dillon, Ty Gibbs, Todd Gilliland, Noah Gragson, Kaz Grala, Daniel Hemric, Austin Hill, Carson Hocevar, Corey Lajoie, John H. Nemechek, Ryan Preece, and Zane Smith.

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