L2H (Love Like Hate): Samsung 500

“Next up on the NASCAR Cup Series is the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. Known as The Great American Speedway, Texas is 1.5 miles long and banked at 24 degrees– similar to Atlanta, which had its first race in early March, and Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Carl Edwards – (last season: first @ Samsung 500, first @ Dickies 500)
After sweeping both Texas races last season, Edwards is going to be the most popular drivers to love this week. Typically, I avoid a consensus pick but after dominating those races with a total 335 laps led, there’s little room to debate. Edwards is the only three-time winner, his other victory came in 2005. Only one other driver has multiple victories at Texas, Jeff Burton who won in 1997 and 2007.

Here’s a likeable trio for Texas:

Denny Hamlin – (last season: fifth @ Samsung 500, 17th @ Dickies 500)
Runner-up of the last two races, Denny Hamlin must have trouble sleeping at night thinking about what he missed. By looking at his finishes from the April races at Texas, Hamlin does a good job of bringing momentum from the short tracks to Texas Motor Speedway. In three April starts, his average finish is 6.0. Much improved than his performance in the November race, 15.75.

Jamie McMurray – (last season: 14th @ Samsung 500, third @ Dickies 500)
Despite a less-than-stellar average starting position (26.1), McMurray owns the fifth-best average finish at Texas (11.2). If you pardon McMurray for his poor performances in 2006, his average finish jumps to 8.0.

Martin Truex Jr. – (last season: 14th @ Samsung 500, third @ Dickies 500)
If you are looking to save some starts in the Yahoo! game or make room in salary cap formats, Truex Jr. is a very good option to round out your provisional roster of B-List drivers. Texas is one of his better tracks– his average finish of 11.0 is fourth-best. Other than his 36th-place finish last season, due to an engine problem, Truex Jr. has never placed worse than 15th.

Also consider…
Matt Kenseth – (last season: ninth @ Samsung 500, ninth @ Dickies 500)
After starting the season with two straight victories, Kenseth has an average finish of 27.75 in the last four races. At Texas in 2008, he finished ninth in each race. In 2007, he finished second twice. That type of consistency has earned Kenseth the second-best career finish (9.9) at Texas. If there’s a chance for Kenseth to wake up from his nightmare, it’s this week.

Greg Biffle – (last season: 39th @ Samsung 500, fifth @ Dickies 500)
Back in 2005, Biffle won here but in four of nine career starts he’s been knocked out early due to accident or mechanical problems. Given the lack of consistency that the Roush Fenway cars have shown this season — the No. 16 in particular — I’m hating on Biffle this week.

L2H results last week @ Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500
Loves: Jimmie Johnson (first), Denny Hamlin (second), Jeff Gordon (fourth) – The three Martinsville dominators did not disappoint, leading all but 15 laps.
Likes: Ryan Newman (sixth), Juan Pablo Montoya (12th) – Newman is back on track, Montoya stayed true to his average finish.
Hate: Somehow I forgot to include a Hate last week. I guess because there are so many clear-cut starters at Martinsville it slipped my mind.

L2H 2009 Season Tally:
Love/Like average finish: 14.5