NASCAR at Texas: 10 Drivers Who'll Be in the Mix in the AAA Texas 500

Brian Shannon@bshannon15Correspondent INovember 5, 2010

NASCAR at Texas: 10 Drivers Who'll Be in the Mix in the AAA Texas 500

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    TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 31:  Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, and Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, lead a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Octo
    John Harrelson/Getty Images

    The Chase for the Sprint Cup heads to Texas this weekend with just three races remaining.

    There are still three men vying for the championship this season, as Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin will try to end Jimmie Johnson's four-year title run.

    This weekend's race should have a big impact on the standings and let us know a lot more about who the eventual champion will be this season.

    Here is a look at 10 drivers who should see good results come this Sunday.

Jimmie Johnson

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    TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 30:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, climbs out of his car after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 30, 2010 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    The four-time defending Sprint Cup Champion is a force to be reckoned with at nearly every track he encounters, and Texas is no exception.

    Johnson will look to widen his first-place margin this week at a track where he has had a lot of success in his career. Johnson has two second-place finishes in his last three races at the track, and he looks strong to get another top five finish this weekend.

    Denny Hamlin is only 14 points behind Johnson, so the No. 48 needs a strong finish this week to retain the top spot.

Denny Hamlin

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    TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 30:  Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, walks on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 30, 2010 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by J
    Jerry Markland/Getty Images

    Hamlin is breathing down Jimmie Johnson's neck for the Sprint Cup points lead, and he has been on fire as of late.

    Hamlin has seven top 10 finishes in his last eight races, and he has fared very well at Texas in his recent trips to the track. Hamlin won at the track back in April, and he should be considered one of the strongest contenders to win there again on Sunday.

    If there is to be a new Sprint Cup Champion this year, it's likely going to be Hamlin.

Kevin Harvick

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    TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 30:  Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Realtree/Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet, walks on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 30, 2010 in Talladega, Alabama
    Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

    Harvick is the only other driver who can catch both Hamlin and Johnson, but he will need a great finish at Texas if he wants to make that a reality.

    The No. 29 has also raced extremely well as of late with five straight top 10 finishes, including a second-place finish last week at Talladega.

    Harvick finished seventh at the track in April, and he has two top 10 finishes in his last three starts at the track. With the way Harvick has been racing lately, he should have little trouble getting another top 10 as well as a shot at victory lane.

Greg Biffle

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    TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 30:  Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Ford, stands on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 30, 2010 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/G
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Washington native has been very up and down during the Chase for the Cup, but he has fared well in the past at Texas, so he should have a strong showing this weekend.

    Biffle has finished in the top 10 in each of his last four starts at the track, and he finished 10th there earlier this year.

    Biffle is well out of the championship picture, as he sits in 11th place, but he is a strong contender for this weekend's race.

Mark Martin

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    TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 30:  Mark Martin, driver of the #5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, stands next to his car on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 30, 2010 in Talladega, Alaba
    Jerry Markland/Getty Images

    Martin is the first to make the list that didn't qualify for the Chase, but he has been coming on strong lately with four solid performances in a row.

    Texas is a track where Martin has done well, as he has had three straight top six finishes at the raceway.

    Martin should be considered a dark horse contender for a top three finish, and at the very least you should expect a top 10.

Kurt Busch

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    TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 30:  Kurt Busch, driver of the #2 Operation Home Front/Miller Lite Dodge, walks on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 30, 2010 in Talladega, Alabam
    Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

    Kurt Busch currently sits in ninth place in the points standings, well back of the leaders, but he comes to a track where he finished fourth at in April.

    Busch's championship aspirations are now gone, but this race is a chance for him to end his season on a solid note.

    Busch has really struggled lately with three finishes outside of the top 20 in his last four races, and he would like to turn things around in the season's last three races, starting with Texas.

Kyle Busch

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    FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 04:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, stands by his truck during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino 350k at Texas Motor Speedway on November 4, 2010 in Fort Worth, Te
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    Kyle is four spots ahead of his brother in the points standings, and he is coming off a disappointing 25th-place finish at Talladega.

    Texas hasn't been as kind to Kyle as it has been to Kurt, but he did finish third at the track in April and has been generally racing well during the Chase, so he should have another productive finish this weekend.

    Like his brother, Kyle can use the last three races to build momentum for next season, and a strong finish this weekend would be big for Busch.

Matt Kenseth

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    MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 22: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Crown Royal Black Ford, stands on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 22, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Pho
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Kenseth hasn't had a very good Chase, but Texas is a track that he has thrived at in the past, so he has a shot to turn things around this weekend.

    The No. 17 finished 20th earlier this season at the track, but he had two top five finishes there last year.

    While Kenseth isn't as strong of a contender to win this week as some of the other guys on this list, a top 10 finish is definitely not out of the question.

A.J. Allmendinger

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    LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 17:  AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #43 Insignia HDTV Ford, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 17, 2010 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Todd War
    Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

    Allmendinger struggled to a 32nd-place finish last week at Talladega, but he has actually raced fairly well as of late, and he has fared well at Texas in the past too.

    The No. 43 has five top 12 finishes in his last eight races, and he finished 13th earlier this year at Texas.

    While a top five finish is not likely, Allmendinger did finish in 10th here last season, so that result isn't out of the question again this year.

Tony Stewart

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    TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 30:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, walks on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 30, 2010 in Talladega, Alabama.
    John Harrelson/Getty Images

    Stewart has been bad the last three races after winning at California, and he could really use a strong finish this weekend to get things going in the right direction again.

    After winning the pole in April at the track, Stewart had a disappointing finish of 32nd place. This time should be better for the No. 14, as he had been coming off two top six finishes prior to April's race.

    Stewart is too good of a driver to stay in a rut for very long, so you should expect a top 10 finish from him this weekend at a track where he has had some success.

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