2012 NASCAR Samsung Mobile 500
Texas Motor Speedway – Fort Worth, Texas
1.5 Mile Quad-Oval – Banking Turns 24 degrees, Straight 5
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Defending Champion: Matt Kenseth
All Odds Courtesy of Bovada
After taking last week off for Easter, NASCAR returns with the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. It was supposed to be the first night race of the season but the Daytona 500 was delayed a day and raced on a Monday night.
Greg Biffle leads the Chase for the NASCAR points championship by 6 points over Dale Earnhardt, Jr. However, the race is very close with 24 points separating first place Biffle from 8th place Ryan Newman. Of course this is only the 7th out of 24 race to qualify for the Chase, so anything can happen.
Here is a look at some of the contenders and dark horses for the race and some predictions. All odds are courtesy of Bovada. Here is a look at the starting grid.
Greg Biffle (13/2)
Biffle leads the points chase right now despite not having a win. He does have 4 top 10’s including 3 top 5’s in 6 races this season. Biffle has done well at Texas with a win, 6 top 5’s and 9 top 10’s in 16 career starts at the track. Biffle has 7 straight top ten’s at Texas including 3 straight top 5’s. His only Texas win came in 2005. Barring engine problems or an accident, Biffle should be there at the end. Biffle qualified 3rd for the race.
Matt Kenseth (13/2)
Kenseth is the defending champion for the Texas Spring race. He has two wins, 10 top 5’s and 13 top 10’s at the track. Kenseth has top 10’s here in 10 of his last 11 Texas starts, including 4 runner-ups. He has 3 straight top 5’s at Texas. This season Kenseth is 4th in the points with a win at the Daytona 500 with 2 other top 5’s in six races this season. Roush-Fenway teammates Kenseth and Biffle love this track, and have been very successful here. Kenseth qualified second for this race but was narrowly beaten for the pole by Martin Truex, Jr.
Jimmie Johnson (8/1)
Johnson is 10th in points with 4 top tens including 2 top 5’s. His car failed inspection after the Daytona 500, where a second lap crash knocked him out of the race. His crew chief was suspended and he was docked 25 owner points. However, Johnson appealed and the penalties were overturned. He won here in 2007 and has 7 top 5’s and 12 top tens in 17 starts at the track. Johnson qualified 10th for the race. Johnson has a chance to win every race he enters, so he is always worth a play.
Carl Edwards (9/1)
Edwards has gotten to a somewhat slow start by his standards with 3 top tens and 2 top 5’s. He is still 11th in points though. Edwards has done well at Texas with 3 wins, including his debut at the track in 2005 and a sweep of both races in 2008. He has 6 top 10’s in 14 career races at Texas. Edwards finished in the top 3 in both races at Texas last year. Edwards qualified in 20th position. Edwards is very consistent and racks up top 10’s way more than wins.
Tony Stewart (9/1)
Stewart won the fall race at Texas during the Chase, one of 5 races he won in that 10 race stretch en route to his third Sprint Cup Championship. The win at Texas last year was the second of his career, along with 5 top 5’s and 11 top 10’s in 20 starts at the track. Stewart is third in the points this season with wins at Las Vegas and California. He has one additional top 10 this season in six races. Although Stewart qualified a disappointing 29th, He is still my pick to win the Samsung Mobile 500.
Kyle Busch (11/1)
Busch returns to Texas Motor Speedway after an incredibly dumb and immature incident last fall. Busch was racing in the NASCAR truck series on Friday night last fall. He wasn’t racing for points but just for fun. He intentionally wrecked another driver and was suspended for the Nationwide race and the Sprint Cup race that weekend. Busch had qualified for the Chase and was the #1 seed entering the last 10 races. He never recovered from losing those points from being suspended and ended up #12 of 12 drivers in the Chase. Busch has never won at Texas but does have 5 top 10’s including 4 top 5 finishes in 13 career starts. He qualified 17th for this race in the Joe Gibbs Toyota. Busch is 16th in points with 2 top 10’s including a runner up at California.
Denny Hamlin (12/1)
Hamlin is 7th in points with a win at Phoenix, a top 5 at Daytona, and a top 10 at Martinsville. Hamlin swept the two races at Texas in 2010. He also has 5 top 5’s and 8 top 10’s in 13 starts at the track. He qualified 13th and barring an accident or engine problems, should contend here.
Kevin Harvick (12/1)
Harvick is 5th in points with 3 top tens including 2 top 5’s in six races this season. Harvick has never won at Texas but has 8 top 10’s including 3 top 5’s at Texas in 18 career starts. He has never finished higher than third at the track. He qualified 15th. I don’t see him contending this week.
Brad Keselowski (14/1)
Keselowski is 12th in points with a win at Bristol, a top 5 at Phoenix, and a top 10 at Martinsville. He is so far down in the points because of 32nd place finishes at Daytona and Las Vegas, but he would still qualify for the chase currently. He has never finished higher than 14th in 7 career starts at Texas. He qualified 8th.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (14/1)
Earnhardt is second in points, 6 points behind Biffle. He has 4 top 10’s including 3 top 5’s in six starts this season, and hasn’t finished lower than 15th in any race. He hasn’t won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race since 2008. He qualified 16th this week. He won his debut at Texas in 2000 but hasn’t won there since. He has 10 top tens including 3 top fives in 19 career races at Texas. I would love to see him end his drought, but I can’t pick him until he does win a race.
Kasey Kahne (14/1)
Kahne has gotten off to a rocky start in his first year with Hendrick Motor Sports. He hasn’t finished higher than 14th in six starts and is 31st in points. He looks to turn his season around at a track he has had success at in the past. He qualified 5th this week. Kahne won here in 2006, and has 3 other top 5’s in 15 career starts at Texas.
Jeff Gordon (18/1)
Gordon has struggled as well this season with only a top 10 at Phoenix. He is 21st in points. Gordon qualified 34th at Texas this week. He has 1 win at Texas in 2009 along with 10 top 10’s and 7 top 5’s in 22 starts at the track. I don’t think this the right track for Gordon to turn around his fortunes, but you never want to count him out.
Martin Truex, Jr. (18/1)
Truex won the pole this week. He is 6th in points this season with 4 top 10’s including top 5’s at Bristol and Martinsville. He has never won at Texas, but does have 6 top tens and a top five in 13 career starts at the track.
Here is a look at the complete betting odds for all drivers courtesy of Bovada.