NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Round of 12 opener at Texas

Hmm. Where to start about Bristol? A Saturday night race at Bristol is usually pretty exciting, but last week's race also dished out an usual load of mechanical issues, especially for Playoff drivers like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Despite the trash-talk about parts and pieces, as the laps wound down the storyline turned to the quintessential timeless story about a driver and team who kept grinding away week after week to get their first win of the season.

Chris Buescher came close a few times this season, but he finally got his first season win at the Bass Pro Shops Night Race, making him the 19th different winner this season. If we see just one more different winner in these final seven races, then the 2022 season will hold the record for the highest number of different winners in NASCAR Cup Series in a single season with 20.
The Bristol victory was the first points-paying race win for Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing since Brad Keselowski joined the organization as an owner, and the second win of Buescher’s NASCAR Cup Series career (Pocono, 2016 and Bristol, 2022). Remarkably, the win was the third consecutive win by a non-Playoff driver in the opening round, a feat not achieved before since the beginning of the Cup Series Playoff format.
My take is that we'll probably see a Playoff driver take the reins again as a non-Playoff driver has won the fourth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs twice (2004 and 2006). Then again, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. aren't too shabby here. Stay tuned.
Active Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Ryan Blaney - 5
All with 4 - Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, and Joey Logano 
All with 3 - Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliott

By Track (Last 9 points paying races)
Both with 8 - Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch
Both with 7 - Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney
Both with 6 - Kyle Busch and Erik Jones
Both with 5 - Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski
Both with 4 - Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola                     

Last Year's Race Winner: Kyle Larson
The Likely Suspects: My Texas elite drivers include Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliott.
My 2 Cents: My no-brainer pick this week is Kevin Harvick. My next picks are Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon, and Brad Keselowski. I will round out my roster with Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez.

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Erik Jones.

Second-Look Driver: My sleeper pick this week is a tie between Austin Dillon and Aric Almirola. Austin has one win here at Texas Motor Speedway, one Top 5, three Top 10s and led 34 laps. Austin earned an a average finish of 18.2. Aric Almirola has a slightly better finishing average of 18.0, and led 101 laps here. He scored one Top 5 and five Top 10s. Both drivers are still grinding away for wins despite not being in the Playoffs and Texas could be a great place to shine.
Points to Ponder: 
  • Six of the 21 NASCAR Cup Series Texas winners are active this weekend: Kyle Busch with four wins; Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick with three wins each; and Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, and Joey Logano with one win each. 
  • The third starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field at Texas Motor Speedway, producing more wins (eight) than any other (19.5%) – most recently Kyle Busch’s win in the 2018 Playoff race.
  • Four different manufacturers have won a NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, led by Ford and Chevrolet who are tied with 15 wins.
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Texas Motor Speedway with 10, followed by Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing who are tied with nine wins each.
  • Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers with three Texas Playoff wins (2017-2019).
  • Kevin Harvick (2017, 2019) and Martin Truex Jr. (2007, 2012) lead all active drivers in NASCAR Cup Series poles at Texas Motor Speedway as well as in runner-up finishes at Texas with three each.
  • Kyle Busch leads all active series drivers in Top-5 finishes at Texas with 14.  
  • Kevin Harvick leads the series in Top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 24.
  • Tyler Reddick (three starts) leads the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Texas Motor Speedway with an 8.667.
  • Kyle Busch (31 starts) leads all active series drivers in laps led at Texas with 1,069. 
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your initial picks by 8 a.m. ET on Saturday, September 24th, and your final picks by 3:30 p.m. on race day Sunday, September 25th.

Enjoy the race!
Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 16 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet. When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Round of 12 opener at Texas NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Round of 12 opener at Texas Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Friday, September 23, 2022 Rating: 5