Texas Motor Speedway

Jimmie Johnson hasn’t won this season. Is Texas Motor Speedway his best chance?

Die hard race fans start camping eight days before TMS races

The first campers arrive Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway, where they will wait 8 days for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 on April 8.
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The first campers arrive Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway, where they will wait 8 days for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 on April 8.

Texas Motor Speedway closes its 2018 racing season this weekend with a NASCAR triple-header.

The truck race, the JAG Metals 350, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday; the Xfinity Series race, the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300, is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday; and the Cup race, the AAA Texas 500, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday.

There’s plenty at stake for drivers in all series as this is a pivotal race for those in the championship hunt. And there’s plenty more for fans to know about the race weekend. Here’s our Turn 4 going into the weekend –

The Big Three

Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. have established themselves as the favorites to win the championship, although Joey Logano secured himself a spot in the championship round with a win Sunday in Martinsville.

But Harvick and Busch each have seven wins this season, and Truex is the reigning champion with four.

All eyes are on those three but don’t be surprised if another wildcard emerges. Texas is a chance for a driver in the final eight such as Kurt Busch to make a move.

Busch has been the pole sitter the past two Cup races at Texas, along with a win and 18 top-10 runs in 31 career starts.

Texas Motor Speedway unveiled a life-sized bobblehead of Kurt Busch on Wednesday. Fans attending this fall's race will receive a smaller version.

Last hurrah?

Jimmie Johnson is staring at the first winless season of his Cup career. Maybe he can salvage it somewhat by winning at Texas.

It’s not out of the question, of course, given Johnson’s strong history at the track. Johnson has won seven times at Texas, the most in his storied career outside of Dover (11) and Martinsville (9).

It’d be fitting for Johnson and his longtime crew chief, Chad Knaus, too. Johnson and Knaus are parting ways at the end of the season, but formed one of the most dominant teams in NASCAR history.

Next season, Johnson will go with veteran Xfinity Series crew chief Jeff Meendering, while Knaus will join 20-year-old rookie William Byron.

Two HOFers

TMS will have plenty of star power at the track this weekend.

Longtime IndyCar standout Helio Castroneves and former NASCAR star Carl Edwards have been chosen for induction into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Castroneves, a three-time Indy 500 champion also known for his “Dancing with the Stars” performances, is the best open-wheel driver in Texas history. He has a track-leading four wins, 11 top-fives and 15 top-10s in his career.

Edwards, meanwhile, won the last race of his career at Texas in November 2016, abruptly retiring after that season.

Off track buzz

This is the last fall tripleheader race weekend for Texas. The spring date beginning in 2019 will now be the tripleheader weekend as the truck race is moving toward that date. It makes sense for TMS as the spring typically draws bigger crowds. … TMS’ promotional giveaway for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 is a Kurt Busch bobblehead. The first 30,000 fans through the gates will receive one. … A new 7-Eleven store has been built outside the North infield tunnel and will be open 24-7 over race weekend.

When Verizon IndyCar driver Ed Jones first got into racing, whenever his parents typed his name on the internet they got that "other" Ed Jones, the feared Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman from the 70's and 80's.

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