FORT WORTH, Texas — Other than the fact that it conflicts with hunting season, Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage loves having the track's second race so close to the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship.
And Texas generally provides plenty of drama, regularly with the Chase contenders finding their way to the front. Last year, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards finished 1-2 at Texas, and 1-2 in the Chase.
The year before, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson all finished in the top 10, with Hamlin holding the points lead after winning. Of course, Johnson overtook him in the final race for his fifth straight title
Here are some other key story lines to watch this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway:
Handicapping the Chasers
After his five-year reign as champ was halted last season, Johnson is back in the running once again, leading Brad Keselowski by two points. Clint Bowyer is 26 back and Kasey Kahne is 29 off the lead, so don't count them out yet, either.
So let's handicap the race for those four drivers, to see who has the best chance of grabbing a late-season win that might vault them to a title:
Jimmie Johnson, 3-1: He has been one of the best at Texas, with 13 top-10 finishes in 18 races, including a runner-up at the spring race, but only one win. Still, when he's this close to a title, he usually finds a way to succeed.
Kasey Kahne, 7-1: He won at Texas in 2006, has been in the top seven in three of the last five races, and has better equipment this year. Sitting in fourth, he needs a big showing more than anyone as he tries to close strong in his first season with Hendrick Motorsports.
Clint Bowyer, 10-1: Several good runs at Texas, and he's been consistent in the Chase, with only one finish outside the top 10. Regardless, his performance this season has been huge for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Brad Keselowski, 14-1: Keselowski has had some strong Nationwide runs at Texas, but he has yet to crack the top 10 in a Cup race, his best finish 14th in 2010. But he knows how to win when the pressure is on, so this could be his breakthrough moment.
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