Hendrick Motorsports placed all four of its cars in the top 10 Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, marking the third consecutive race on a 1.5-mile speedway that Hendrick has had at least three cars in the top 10.
With five of the 10 Chase races on 1.5-mile speedways — including the season finale in Miami — how teams perform on this type of track is pivotal in the title race.
Next month will be key for teams with three events on 1.5-mile speedways: The May 7 race at Kansas Speedway, the May 21 Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the May 29 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.
After those events, the only race on a 1.5-mile track before the Chase begins in September will be July 9 at Kentucky Speedway.
“I think the company as a whole is pushing real hard to improve, and there’s an impression within the company that we need to grind a little bit and make some gains going forward into the middle of the season here,’’ Dale Earnhardt Jr. said after his runner-up finish for Hendrick.
Through the first three races on 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta, Las Vegas and Texas), here’s who has the best average finish:
- 1. Kyle Busch 2.7
- 1. Jimmie Johnson 2.7
- 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4.0
- 4. Joey Logano 5.7
- 5. Kurt Busch 7.3
- 6. Kevin Harvick 7.7
- 7. Martin Truex Jr. 8.0
- 8. Brad Keselowski 9.3
- 9. Carl Edwards 10.0
- 10. Austin Dillon 11.7
Through the first three races on 1.5-mile tracks, here’s who has led the most laps:
- 1. Martin Truex Jr. 175
- 2. Kevin Harvick 133
- 3. Jimmie Johnson 128
- 4. Carl Edwards 125
- 5. Kurt Busch 93
- 6. Matt Kenseth 77
- 7. Kyle Busch 74
- 7. Joey Logano 74
- 9. Brad Keselowski 24
- 10. Trevor Bayne 12
— Noteworthy runs at Texas:
Chase Elliott‘s fifth-place finish was a career-best result in Cup. His previous best was sixth at Auto Club Speedway last month.
Kasey Kahne‘s eighth-place finish was his best of the season. His previous best was 10th at Las Vegas.
Trevor Bayne finished a season-best 15th. His previous best this year was 17th at Las Vegas.
Ty Dillon‘s 20th-place finish was the best finish of the season for Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing. It’s previous best was 24th at Martinsville with Michael McDowell driving the car.
— Will Kyle Busch’s streak continue this weekend at Bristol?
He enters having won the past two Sprint Cup races. Busch and Joey Logano each had three-race winning streaks last year. Busch won Daytona in July, Kentucky and New Hampshire. Logano’s three wins came in the Chase at Kansas, Charlotte and Talladega.
Busch also is the only driver to score top-10 finishes in each of the last four short track races, which includes Martinsville last month, the November Martinsville race, the September Richmond race and the August Bristol race.
— It has been a tough start of the season for Xfinity Series drivers this season. Series regulars have led 6.5 percent of the 1,033 laps run this season with Sprint Cup drivers dominating the series. Friday night’s race saw 12 of the 200 laps led by drivers scoring Xfinity points this season.
Last year, Xfinity Series regulars (those who score points in that series) had led 13.7 percent of the 1,033 laps in the first six races of the season.