After the ghoulish Halloween madness at the biggest baddest track of them all, a return to a cookie cutter venue at Texas Motor Speedway will bring some much needed normalcy to the Sprint Cup this weekend. Just three races remain on the 2009 slate and for some, the end of the season can't come soon enough.
But while the Championship is all but decided, no doubt there are plenty of you in the throes of a heated "Fantasy NASCAR" battle. Those that are would do well to carefully consider their lineups; we're at the stage of the season where there is zero margin for error. Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile quad shaped oval with 24 degrees of banking in the corners -- very similar in style to Atlanta and Charlotte. As we approach the track and the denouement of 2009, here are your favorites, sleepers and longshots for Sunday's 500-miler.
By the numbers: A statistical anomaly, perhaps, but Johnson does have one finish of 38th place at Texas, in the first race of 2007, in amongst an almost uninterrupted plethora of top-10 runs.
By the numbers: TMS is Kenseth's second best track, where he has an average finish of 9.7. The only track he runs better at is Fontana (9.2).
This hasn't been, by any stretch of the imagination, the season Edwards expected -- he was a preseason pick to dethrone the practically invincible Johnson -- and while a win wouldn't sweep away the misery of 2009, it would go a long way to restoring some sheen and luster to an otherwise forgettable season.
By the numbers: Edwards swept at Texas in 2008, winning both races; he has an average finish of 13.4 in nine attempts.
Jamie McMurray: Jamie Mac needed a positive result this past weekend in the worst possible way. With the contraction of Roush Fenway from five to four teams (per NASCAR mandate), the Joplin native finds himself out of a ride for 2010. All signs point to him taking over the seat in the No. 1 car, which
By the numbers: McMurray's average finish at TMS is 15.1, significantly better than his average start of 28.5.
By the numbers: Harvick has completed 4340 of 4352 laps at Texas (99.7%) but has led only four in 13 attempts.
By the numbers: Newman has an average finish of 23.3 and 3 DNFs at TMS.
Next Up: The penultimate race of the 2009 NASCAR season at Phoenix International Raceway.