Everything is bigger in Texas? Well, so are the stakes. The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs heats up as the series heads to Fort Worth for a crucial Round of 8 clash at Texas Motor Speedway.
Catch all the live action when the race resumes on Monday from the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at 10 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
RELATED: Full Texas schedule
Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile D-shaped oval located in Fort Worth, Texas. The recently paved asphalt surface — also reconfigured in 2017 — boasts a 2,250-foot frontstretch and a 1,330-foot backstretch with 20 degrees of banking in Turn 1 and 2 and 24 degrees in Turns 3 and 4.
The Cup Series has laid rubber here since the 1997 season, when Jeff Burton outpaced Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte to take home the series‘ first trophy from Texas.
The race will be the 40th NASCAR premier-series feature held at the track.
Stage 1 will end at Lap 105, Stage 2 at Lap 210 and the final stage at Lap 334.
Series points leader Kevin Harvick wheels off at the head of the field this weekend, followed by Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman to complete the top five.
The lineup was determined using NASCAR‘s competition-based formula, which is a total number based on the previous event: 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver‘s final race finish position, 25% of the owner‘s final race position and 35% of the owner points position.
The 2020 NASCAR rules package for intermediate-sized tracks will be in effect with a tapered spacer used to achieve a target of 550 horsepower. The cars will use aero ducts in addition to other aerodynamic devices to increase downforce.
Each Cup Series team will be allotted nine sets of Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials for the 501-mile race.
Increasing familiarity with tire setup is a benefit for teams heading into the weekend, as the same combination was used in September‘s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway last weekend. With the inability to practice and iron out wrinkles, looking back on previous races is each team‘s best bet — even on the smoother Texas track.
“Since its repave a few years back, the smooth surface at Texas has provided a challenge in that it does not wear tires on its own,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear‘s director of racing. “We have aligned several similar tracks that don‘t naturally wear tires — Texas, Las Vegas and Kansas — and bring tread compounds that introduce some wear. Like we said for Kansas last week, getting tires to wear is a good thing. Tires that wear will run cooler because they shed rubber over the course of a run and dissipate heat out through the tread.”
PLAYOFF STATS TO KNOW
— The last 28 Cup Series playoff races have been won by playoff-eligible drivers. The last playoff race won by a non-eligible driver was at Phoenix Raceway in 2017 when Matt Kenseth, previously eliminated in the Round of 12, earned the victory.
— After Kyle Busch‘s elimination in the Round of 12, three of the four drivers from the 2019 Championship 4 remain in contention.
— Jimmie Johnson (four) and Kevin Harvick (three) have combined to win seven of the last eight playoff races at Texas. Harvick has won the last three.
— The eventual Cup Series champion has finished inside the top 10 in the Texas playoff race in five of the six years of the elimination era. But the winner of the race has never gone on to win the title under the current format.
Source: Racing Insights
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2019 RACE WINNER
Kevin Harvick dominated last year‘s race, leading 119 laps and securing a coveted place in the Championship 4 finale. Harvick has taken home the checkered flag in three consecutive fall races at Texas, dating back to 2017.
RELATED: Pre-Texas Power Rankings
ACTIVE TEXAS WINNERS
Jimmie Johnson (seven wins); Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch (three wins each); Matt Kenseth (two wins); Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon (one win each).