NASCAR Props Challenge Picks for Sunday’s Texas O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) and his team
- NASCAR's Props Challenge game asks fans to answer 10 prop-betting questions each week, with weekly winners eligible for prizes.
- PJ Walsh offers his Props Challenge picks and analysis for Sunday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 (3 p.m. ET, FOX) at Texas Motor Speedway.
After some short track beating and banging last weekend at Martinsville Speedway, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) returns to the new aero package at Texas Motor Speedway.
Texas was repaved following the MENCS race in November 2016, meaning the surface is new and has not had ample time to age. As a result, the track remains very smooth and results in very little tire wear.
So because of the new aero package, we’ll be leaning on the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this month due to the track similarities (both 1.5-mile racetracks) and lack of tire wear.
Below are my NASCAR Props Challenge picks for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
1. Does Ryan Blaney extend his 2019 top-five streak to four races?
Blaney has been fast all season, but struggled at Las Vegas in March. In fact, the Team Penske driver ranked fourth overall in green flag speed at both Atlanta and Auto Club, yet just 17th in Vegas.
As I mentioned in the intro, I expect the racing at Texas to be much closer to Las Vegas, so I’m going no.
2. Over/under 2.5 Toyotas finish in the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway
Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are the easy answers to finish in the top 10 at Texas, and Denny Hamlin has been plenty fast as well. All three currently rank among the top 10 in terms of betting odds at Westgate, with Erik Jones just outside, tied for 11th best odds.
Three of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers should get in there, so I’m taking the over.
Answer: Over 2.5
3. Kurt Busch has four straight top 10s at Texas, but his best finish was seventh. Does he finish better than seventh on Sunday?
Based on green flag speed at Las Vegas, I expect Busch to be a top-10 car on Sunday, but not necessarily one that can drive into the top five.
I think Kurt contends for a top 10, but does not crack the top six here.
4. Does the same driver win Stage 1 and Stage 2 on Sunday?
Expecting one driver to win both stages over the entire field is simply too much of a stretch.
This is an easy no for me.
5. O/U 1.5 drivers lead more than 85 laps in Sunday’s race
At Vegas in March, Kevin Harvick (88) and Joey Logano (86) each led more than 85 laps and that race was just 400 miles compared to Sunday’s 500-miler at Texas.
6. Which driver finishes better at Texas on Sunday? Matt DiBenedetto or Ty Dillon?
DiBenedetto has been faster than Dillon at every intermediate racetrack so far this season, including Las Vegas. We can’t predict bad luck, but we can predict speed and Matt has the edge here.
7. Does a team other than Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske go to victory lane on Sunday?
Taking Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske gives us Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney. That’s one loaded lineup.
In terms of betting odds at Westgate, Busch (+250), Keselowski (+350), Logano (+500), Truex (+700) and Blaney (+1000) rank first, second, third (tied), fifth and sixth, respectively, in terms of best odds to win the race.
Kevin Harvick (+500) is the only driver in the top six of betting odds to not drive for Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske.
8. O/U 16.5 lead changes for Sunday’s race
Once again I’ll lean on the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway a few weeks ago. With the current aero package, that race finished with 19 lead changes.
Like I noted in my answer to question five, this week’s race is 100 miles longer than the Pennzoil 400 at Vegas, providing even more opportunities for drivers to swap the lead.
9. Joey Logano has an average finish of 4.0 the last six races at Texas Motor Speedway. Will he finish in the top five on Sunday?
Logano should have top-five speed on Sunday, but I still have such a hard time expecting a driver to finish in the top five.
Joey will be fast and should contend for the win, but I’m still not ready to start predicting specific drivers to finish among the top five until we get more data on this aero package.
10. The average starting position for the race winner the past six races at Texas Motor Speedway is 10.3. Will Sunday’s race winner start inside the top 10?
This is such a good question because drafting during qualifying can really shake up the starting lineup. I’m going to say yes because I think the big teams will find ways to get organized during qualifying, but I’m not at all confident in this answer.