Leaving Texas with the points lead is usually a good thing for the potential champion.
Since the November race was added as the eighth of 10 Chase races in 2005, the points leader after Texas has won the title five of seven times.
However, the latest trend is reversed. The last two years, the leader after Texas — Edwards last year and Hamlin in 2010 — got passed for the title.
Non-Chasers for Victory Lane
Not since Tony Stewart in 2006 has a non-Chase driver won at Texas in November, but here are three guys who could get it done on Sunday:
Cousin Carl: The back flip has been a popular celebration on the TMS infield, with Carl Edwards winning five races at the track (two Nationwide, three Sprint Cup).
The Shrub: NASCAR's little Busch, Kyle, has won more than any driver at Texas — seven races in all — but none in Cup.
Epic Swag: Mark Martin, a master of the 1.5-mile, should have the No. 55 running toward the front. Unfortunately, he doesn't go by “Epic Swag” anymore. That was a one-week gag after his Twitter account was hacked and his handle changed to that name.
Nationwide: Youngsters in pursuit
Not counting the Sprint Cup double-dippers who are looking for extra laps on the track, there are typically two categories of drivers in the Nationwide Series: the young gun looking to work his way into a Cup car, and the veteran trying to show the world that his racing career isn't over.
Right now, experience is leading.
The 37-year-old Elliott Sadler holds a narrow six-point lead on defending series champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who just turned 25. And 22-year-old Austin Dillon is a manageable 26 points back as he nears the end of his first full Nationwide season.
Sadler has a Cup win at Texas in 2004, but Stenhouse is the driver to watch this week. Not only did he win at Texas in the spring, he has six total wins this season, and five of them have come on 1.5-mile tracks.
That could give Stenhouse an upper hand on the title as well, with 1.5-mile tracks hosting two of the final three races (Texas and Homestead).