Deep in the heart of Texas

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Texas Motor Speedway has been on the NASCAR cup schedule since 1997. Nine

races have been held at the Dallas-area track and nine different drivers have visited Victory Lane to wear the big cowboy hat and receive the trophy shaped like a boot. That streak of one-time winners should come to an end

this week.

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For each of those nine seasons, Texas hosted only one race per year, all in

the early spring. This will be the first race this late in the season, who knows how the track conditions will change?

Or will it even be an issue?

Roush Racing drivers have won four of nine races at this track and Greg Biffle led two-thirds of the laps and dominated the spring race at Texas.

I sound like a broken record every week, but the &uot;Roushketeers&uot; will show up again this week and have a say in who wins.

Even though his 2005 championship hopes look to be slim, Mark Martin should be strong this week. He is counted among the one-time winners, but he has also won three Busch series events at this track.

My pick to win this race is Elliott Sadler. After winning the spring race last year, he will become the first repeat winner.

Tony Stewart still leads the chase after the race in Atlanta last week. His ninth place finish, combined with Jimmie Johnson’s 16th, extended his points lead to 43. Biffle still sits in third, 75 points behind the leader.

Unless something totally unexpected happens, it looks like our next champion will come from that trio. Despite media reports early in the week, the Ganassi-Penske-Roush puzzle is still not put together, at least not officially put together. An ESPN reporter early this week said that Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch had both been released from their respective current teams, but that report has not been validated.

Bobby Labonte’s plans for 2006 remain unclear. He has been linked to everyone from Petty Enterprises to Bill Davis Racing to Chip Ganassi. One

thing looks clear, it is doubtful that Labonte will return to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2006.

Stay tuned, It looks like the silly season will become clear as mud before everything shakes out.