Maybe two drivers come to mind when thinking about who could be the pre-race choice for winning the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Nationwide contest this Saturday Night at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. But if you look a little deeper, there are several more teams that pop up as potential victors at Texas. There's a heavy influence of Cup regulars along with two prime players in Nationwide that may be victorious Saturday. Here are the six most likely to win.
6. Elliott Sadler - No, he's never won at Texas but you don't lead the points for most of the season without being quite good at most tracks. Sadler had the pole at this race last year and has five top fives over his last eight appearances at the fast mile-and-a-half track. He'll be a contender again Saturday evening.
5. Denny Hamlin - He's one of the hotter drivers in NASCAR so any race he's in is winnable for the Cup regular. Hamlin's never won a Nationwide race at Texas but he was second last year and has four top fives over the past five visits to the Lone Star State. He'll be challenging for the top spot again.
4. Kevin Harvick - He's won four times at Texas but it's been five years since his last victory. Harvick does have three straight Top 10s in his last three appearances here and this Cup regular will be near or at the front again.
3. Kyle Busch - His Nationwide team appears to be looking stronger with nine Top 10s over the last ten events the #54 car has entered. Kyle was the car to beat up until last season with five consecutive victories from 2008 to 2010. I suspect this Cup regular will be at or near the front all night in Texas.
2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - As the winner of the spring race and the reigning Nationwide champion, Stenhouse would seem to be the natural choice for the top spot … and he would be, except for ...
1. Joey Logano - With eight victories in 2012, Logano has enjoyed an extremely successful year in Nationwide; however, he hasn't won at Texas but does have three top fives in the past five races there. Logano has won three of the last five Nationwide races he's entered and the other two he had the pole. Hot doesn't begin to describe the 22 year old Cup regular - therefore, expect Joey Logano to win the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.
I'm not sure if this is a true longshot choice but Justin Allgaier has averaged a tenth place finish over the past five races at Texas, so he should be in the thick of the competition. Also, keep an eye on a couple open wheelers in Sam Hornish Jr. and Danica Patrick. Both have a knack for doing well at Texas. And note that Trevor Bayne won the event in 2011 but isn't entered to run this year.
The next to last race of the year for the Nationwide drivers will be a week after Texas on a Saturday afternoon in Phoenix.
Sources - Racing Reference, NASCAR
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.