Welcome to the Lonestar state! We head to Fort Worth, Texas and a mile and a half double dogleg oval. Opened in 1996 this track has provided continued excitement year after year. 24 degree banking in the turns holds the cars on the track as they will break 200 mph this weekend.
Austin Dillon has a mixed history with this gem of the west. As a truck series driver, Austin holds an average 14th place finish, in the Xfinity series he has a 5th place average. Sprint Cup series he comes in a little better than 22nd overall. We know the last 2 years he has been concentrating on finishing laps and gaining experience more than going for a win, so this year should be quite the opposite of normal.
Hows the math work out? Well 22 + 14 + 5 = 41/3 = 14 place average for his career. Austin is averaging 9 spots above his series average and comes mighty close to that for his career averages. So 14 – 9 = 5. Am I projecting another Top 5 for Austin? Yes. He has been on a tear and if not for some equipment issues on pit road, he might have another Top 10 and may have been battling for the lead last week.
Austin has a fire burning in him and for the first time in the Cup series he has equipment equal to his talent. His engineers and mechanics and tuners and technicians are all united in a common goal to reach Victory Lane. On similar mile and a half tracks this year he holds an average 8th place finish, also he is averaging 16 positions above his career average. All this looks to land Austin near the front. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him taking the pole here either.
Finally, I want to take a moment to recognize a real loss today. Country music legend, Merle Haggard passed away at the age of 79, on his birthday. I have fond memories of growing up, helping my father do taxidermy and listening to his music. From a young age I grew to love his music, as I got older I drank to his music, and today I listen to it as I drive my daily errands. Taking a moment to reflect, I want to share a piece that spoke to me the first time I heard it…
“I’m fortysome years old and I ain’t got no place to go when it’s over; so I hide my age and make the stage and try to kick the footlights out again…”
-Footlights by Merle Haggard-
I’ll see you from the box.