2020 NASCAR Cup Series preview: Texas 2

The postseason intensity continues to heat up with just two races left to determine the Championship 4. The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon in the final race of 2020 with the high-downforce aero package.

Back in July, a late caution allowed the Richard Childress Racing duo of Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick to score a 1-2 finish, with Dillon claiming the victory. However, the finish was attributed due to the inability of cars behind the two to make a pass thanks to the abundance of dirty air created when a trailing car tries to get to the bumper of the leading car. This came to play last Sunday at Kansas as Joey Logano held off Kevin Harvick to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 race. Harvick and Logano will start alongside each other on the front row Sunday.

Logano’s win shook up the playoff cutline as now Brad Keselowski sits only eight points ahead of Chase Elliott.

Aside from a ninth-place finish in July, Keselowski has not had a good run at Texas as he hasn’t finished inside the top 10 since the Fall of 2017. He has finished outside the top 30 in three of the last five races at the track. He found momentum last Sunday on Kansas with a fourth-place finish after finishing outside the top 10 in the previous four races following his win at Richmond. Keselowski will start third on Sunday.

After a poor performance at Kansas, Denny Hamlin is flirting with the playoff cutline as he only sits 20 points above it. Recent memory has not served Hamlin well at Texas, as aside from a win in the 2019 Spring race, he has finishes of 34th, 30th, 28th and 20th respectively. Following the win at Talladega, Hamlin has two-straight 15th-place finishes. With a seventh place starting position, Hamlin will need to stay inside the top 10 and score stage points to keep a comfortable ahead of the cutline.

Elliott starts fourth on Sunday but has failed to score a top-10 finish at Texas since the Fall of 2018.

Alex Bowman (-27), Martin Truex Jr. (-31) and Kurt Busch (-73) will be desperation mode Sunday afternoon as they try to score a win to steal a spot in the Championship 4. Bowman starts fifth but has a dismal average finish at Texas of 25.6. Truex Jr. starts sixth and due to lackluster finishes in previous races, he needs to score a maximum amount of stage points and have a good finish to feel like he has a chance at Martinsville next weekend. If not, he could be looking at missing out on the Championship 4 for the first time since 2016.

Stages for the race end on lap 105, lap 210 and the finish on lap 334. TV coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Network. The Performance Racing Network will provide radio coverage.

Starting lineup:

Pit stall assignments:

Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2020/10/20/goodyear-fast-facts-texas-5/

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