Race Weekend Central

Odds & Ends Around the Track: Everything’s Bigger in Texas Edition

Everything is bigger in Texas, and nobody finds more ways to entertain NASCAR fans than Eddie Gossage at Texas Motor Speedway.

In the NFL, they talk about coaches being from either the Bill Belichick or the Sean McVay coaching trees. In racetrack promotion, they talk about the Humpy Wheeler promotion tree. Mr. Gossage has been one of the best at building value for race fans with a mix of crazy and fun things waiting for you when you arrive at his speedway. There is also a full weekend of racing, too, and the entertainment, just like the racing, is always bigger in Texas! 

Game Seven Moment Times Three

When Brian France added the Chase to the NASCAR world years ago, he said he wanted to create more “Game Seven moments” in the sport. While I have always contended that true game sevens like we saw in Major League Baseball’s World Series last night are special only because they are very rare.

But heading to Texas this weekend, several teams are faced with at least “Game Six” moments, if not “Game Seven” situations. Chase Elliott is 44 points behind the cutoff, and Kevin Harvick is 14 points behind for the Championship Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Harvick knows he has ISM Raceway in Phoenix coming up next weekend where he is dominant, but in NASCAR racing, you can’t count your wins until you get to wave the checkered flag after your burnout.

Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson also have to think that Texas is their best race to punch their ticket to the Championship Four. Next week at Phoenix, we will certainly see another game seven moment, and then there is the ultimate game seven moment at Homestead. Enjoy the drama the next three weekends because the only thing better than one “Game Seven moment” is three of them in a row.

Schedule Conflicts Bigger in Texas, Too

While the fan bases of Formula One and NASCAR are not an identical crossover, I can’t believe it helps the attendance at Texas Motor Speedway or the press coverage of the NASCAR races this weekend to have Formula One at Circuit of the Americas in Texas. You would think the two biggest race organizations in the world could figure out a way to tweak the schedule to make sure this collision of racing giants doesn’t happen, but here we are again this year. Maybe in the good old days of packed grandstands at NASCAR races, this schedule conflict wouldn’t matter, but I have to believe in today’s racing world it will hurt the attendance at Texas Motor Speedway.

Schedule conflicts are nothing new at Texas or any other speedway. Back when Chicagoland Speedway hosted NASCAR races in September, they had to contend with conflicts with the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Cubs. At least Eddie Gossage can smile knowing the Dallas Cowboys are not playing at home this weekend — otherwise, scheduling conflicts could be even bigger in Texas. 

Fantasy Insight: Texas

Last Week’s Picks 

Win: Kyle Busch – Finished 14th 

Place: Denny Hamlin – Finished 4th 

Show: Martin Truex Jr. – Winner winner chicken dinner!

Long Shot: Jimmie Johnson – Finished 38th 

Last weekend at Martinsville Speedway, we saw the Round of Eight drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs land six drivers in the top-nine finishers. This should come as no surprise because each year the cream rises to the top during the playoffs. Short-track racing can sometimes attempt to equalize that effect, but we still saw the dominance we expected.

This week at a mile-and-a-half speedway, the dominance should be even more pronounced. Time is also ticking away for two of the stronger drivers under the Championship Four cutoff to grab a win that will advance them to the Championship Race. Six of the top-eight drivers in points scored over the last five races at Texas are members of the Round of Eight drivers, led by Harvick. Good luck with your fantasy NASCAR picks this weekend. 

Win: Harvick – Needs a win and has two victories in his last five races at TMS. 

Place: Kyle Busch – Overdue for a visit to Victory Lane

Show: Truex Jr – Can keep someone else from locking in a trip to the finals

Long Shot: Erik Jones (25-to-1 Odds) Has finished fourth in his last three races here

About the author

Dennis a.k.a. DMIC has been covering NASCAR racing since 1998. After spending 23 years as a professional weather forecaster, Dennis still didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up, so he started covering auto racing full time. He is the moderator of the Race Track Business Conference - an all-day educational seminar covering the business of speed - and is the owner of DMIC Media & Marketing where he spends his time mouthing off about all kinds of sports. He is also the play-by-play voice for the professional Ultimate Disc team the Chicago Wildfire of the American Ultimate Disc League. Dennis can be heard every Saturday on The Final Inspection on 105.7FM The Fan in Milwaukee, Wis. talking NASCAR, and you can listen on the Radio.com app.

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