You can look up a bunch of stats to explain why Tony Stewart is the favorite to win Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. He's won four of the past six races on 1.5-mile tracks. "Smoke" burned the field at Texas last fall, leading 173 laps, and dominated the competition in Las Vegas earlier this year, where he was out front for 127 laps.
Or you can simply listen to words of teammate Ryan Newman's crew chief, Tony Gibson, when I asked him about the Texas tire test. "All I can tell you is that he was stupid fast," Gibson said. "You don't really get to mess with the car once you get a baseline chassis setup, and it was ridiculous how much faster he was then everybody else."
This is not to say, however, that Stewart can't be taken down at Texas. Matt Kenseth was the winner in Fort Worth last spring while leading 169 laps, and led another 87 laps in the fall, when he finished fourth. In his past 10 starts in the Lone Star State, Kenseth has two victories, three second place finishes, seven top-5s and nine top-10s.
Other guys who could make life tough on Stewart are Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. However, I'm concerned about Edwards' ability to show the kind of speed you need to be out front. Would you believe in the first six races in 2012, Edwards has yet to lead even a single lap?
For more of Mark Garrow's predictions of what might happen at TMS on Saturday night, click here.