NASCAR at Texas picks, predictions, odds, Daily Fantasy advice: Kurt Busch starting from pole

After taking a week off for Easter, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon. The green flag is scheduled to fly on the 501-mile race at 2 p.m. ET as drivers continue to look for a coveted spot in the playoffs.

Which driver will join former champions Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin HarvickDaytona 500 winner Austin Dillon and last week's race winner Clint Bowyer in the postseason? Here are our top picks to win as well as in daily fantasy for Sunday's race. 

Our pick: Kyle Busch

NASCAR: Duck Commander 500
Kyle Busch is hoping to secure his first win of 2018 on Sunday USA TODAY Sports

After finishing second in the Championship last season as well as three of the first six races, you'd have to imagine the term "runner-up" is getting stale for Busch. However, we think this is the week he breaks that barrier and takes home his first checkered flag of the season. 

Texas is far from uncharted waters for Busch who has won at the track twice, his most recent win in the Lone Star State coming in 2016. He's just a tick behind the favorite Kevin Harvick (3/1) alongside Martin Truex Jr. at 4/1 as he prepares to roll off eighth. Toyotas have also shown strong competition for the Fords this week, with Busch running fourth in the first practice and his teammate's Daniel Suarez and Denny Hamlin leading the second.

Contenders: Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson

NASCAR: AAA Texas 500
Can Kevin Harvick make it two-straight wins at Texas? USA TODAY Sports

Let's start with Johnson, who holds the track record in wins with seven. On top of that, in 29 starts he has put together 15 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes, not to mention he's the track leader in laps led with 1,041. It's been 29 races since the No. 48 has seen Victory Lane and there's a solid chance Johnson can break that career long on Sunday.

As for Harvick, well if you've been watching NASCAR this season there's not much more we have to tell you. This guy is on a whole other level and now you put him at a track where he's comfortable with momentum. Fans may remember Harvick's win at Texas last year which propelled him to the Championship 4.

If Harvick claims the checkered flag on Sunday, he'd join Bill Elliott, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as drivers to win four of the first seven races. Earnhardt set the all-time mark, winning five of the first seven in 1987.

Wild Card: Clint Bowyer

Clint Bowyer looks to keep the good times rolling USA TODAY Sports

You must be asking yourself, how can last week's race winner be considered a wild card? Well when you win your first race in six years you can still hold onto that association for a few more races. Bowyer is slated to start this race third as he looks to make it back to back wins. 

Here's an interesting stat that may play in Bowyer's favor for this week: Seven times has the driver that started third won the NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas. That's the most of any other position. On the contrary, his teammate Kurt Busch is not so lucky as the pole winner has only won three of the 34 races in the Lone Star State. Just something to chew on...

Another reason we like Bowyer this year is just plain consistency. In the first six races this year, Bowyer has finished in the top-10 three times with two of those finishes coming in the top five. He has all the momentum in the world as he enters the race eighth in the points.

Must-play in Daily Fantasy: Chase Elliott

NASCAR: O'Reilly Auto Parts 500-Qualifying
Chase Elliott is no stranger to the top 10 at Texas USA TODAY Sports

In NASCAR DFS it's not only important that you pick the winner but also the driver that's going to advance their position the most by the end of the race. Elliott is set to roll off 20th when the race goes green on Sunday and has a proven track record at Texas to suggest he'll move up quick.

Although it's a small sample size, Elliott has never finished worse than ninth in any of his four starts at Texas. He's also led at least one lap in three of those contests, bringing him to an average finish of 6.50 when starting at an average of 20.5.

There's a bit of a price associated with Elliott, but that's not a surprise given he's one of the top drivers in the sport. Gamers can get Elliott at $9,900 in DraftKings, which is less expensive than Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. He is easily the best option for players looking for a high return on Sunday. 

Odds to win the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

Betting odds for Sunday's provided by SportsLine. For expert daily fantasy analysis, we encourage you to check out DFS millionaire Mike McClure's picks by clicking here.

  • Kevin Harvick 3/1
  • Martin Truex Jr. 4/1
  • Kyle Busch 4/1
  • Kyle Larson 7/1
  • Brad Keselowski 8/1
  • Joey Logano 12/1
  • Chase Elliott 15/1
  • Denny Hamlin 15/1
  • Ryan Blaney 15/1
  • Jimmie Johnson 20/1
  • Erik Jones 20/1
  • Clint Bowyer 30/1
  • Kurt Busch 40/1
  • Aric Almirola 50/1

Starting lineup for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

  1. Kurt Busch
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Clint Bowyer
  4. Ryan Blaney
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. Martin Truex Jr.
  7. Joey Logano
  8. Kyle Busch
  9. Jimmie Johnson
  10. Kyle Larson
  11. Brad Keselowski
  12. Aric Almirola
  13. Trevor Bayne
  14. Daniel Suarez
  15. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  16. Alex Bowman
  17. Austin Dillon
  18. Chris Buescher
  19. Paul Menard
  20. Chase Elliott
  21. Erik Jones
  22. AJ Allmendinger
  23. Ty Dillon
  24. Jamie McMurray
  25. Ryan Newman
  26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  27. Michael McDowell
  28. Kasey Kahne
  29. David Ragan
  30. Matt DiBenedetto
  31. Ross Chastain
  32. Gray Gaulding
  33. William Byron
  34. Cole Whitt
  35. Landon Cassill
  36. Harrison Rhodes
  37. Reed Sorenson

How to watch the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

Location: Texas Motor Speedway
Date: Sunday, April 8
Time: 2 p.m. ET
Length: 334 laps/501 miles
Stage 1: Ends on lap 85
Stage 2: Ends on lap 170
Final stage: Scheduled for lap 334
Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free) 

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