Lock: Danica Patrick
Danica’s last four finishes here have been third, tenth, sixth, and second. Plus, her record of finishing races should put her in good stead in what should be a chaotic field. This is one of Patrick’s better tracks, and one of your best chances to put her in your lineup for the rest of the schedule.
Drop: Simona de Silvestro
We’ve got nothing but love for the Swiss Missile, but we need to see where this team is post-Indy before we utilize her as an option, especially on an oval. Hopefully Simona and her car “Pork Chop” can get it done, but it’s probably smart to take an initial wait-and-see approach.
Sleeper: Jay Howard
Granted, there are a lot of great choices this week for the Texas race, but if you’re looking to go deep on your “bench”, don’t forget about Jay. His accident at Indy was not his fault (losing a wheel will do that), and he was fast all month. It’s perhaps a bit of a gamble, but this is a great way to save some of your heavy-hitters for a bit later on.
---Zachary Houghton’s picks
Lock: Ryan Briscoe
Due for a good run after an up-and-down start to the season, Briscoe now goes to a track that he has a win, a second, and third. What's more, he has led the most laps at Texas in each of the last two races. Even though some may believe he has become the "third wheel" at Penske, Texas has always been a strong point for him. He'll be looking to rebound after a tough run at Indy, and Texas is the remedy he has been looking for.
Drop: Paul Tracy
Tracy's reputation on ovals is very impressive. Undoubtedly, he is one of the most exciting and daring drivers you'll find on an oval track. However, with Dragon Racing suffering a pair of crashes at Indianapolis, Tracy's chances this weekend don't look good. Frankly, running all of the laps should be their goal this weekend. That much would be a nice accomplishment. But, don't take a chance on them finding lightning in a bottle.
Sleeper: Andretti Autosport
As outright speed goes, Andretti Autosport seems lost. But, in terms of race pace, they're as fast as anyone. All you need to do is watch last year's race, which Ryan Hunter-Reay come from the back to the front (twice), Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan run solidly after starting mid-pack, and Danica Patrick nearly pull of an upset win over Ryan Briscoe. They may not be in the front in qualifying, but come race day, this entire group should immediately charge forward. Have your pick of this lot. They shouldn't steer you wrong.
---Kyle Lavigne’s picks
Wow! What a race in Indy! A perfect reminder of the excitement and suspenseful racing that IndyCar is all about! Let’s hope that trend continues, starting with the second oval track of the season.
Lock: Scott Dixon
Yes, I will continue to pick him until he rolls into victory lane! The Target cars both got caught up in the fuel strategy game and lost at Indy. But everyone knows this is where Dixon’s season really starts- on the ovals. This is where everyone starts focusing on the championship and Texas should be easy points for this oval-master.
Drop: Graham Rahal
Alright this may be a little vindictive of me in light of Graham’s most recent comments regarding J.R. Hildenbrand’s almost-win. But, hey, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion right? And in my opinion I think Graham will come into Texas a little too relaxed and confident after his podium finish in Indy. He drove well but I think it’ll be a bit longer before we see him in victory lane again.
Sleeper: Oriol Servia
Oriol gained much well deserved attention in Indy all month. Just when people had started to write him off, he comes back in full force to dominate at the biggest race of the year. He clearly feels very comfortable on ovals and I think this veteran will be riding his 500 momentum right into Texas.
---Kristin Slevin’s picks
Lock: Marco Andretti
Texas has been one of the third-generation star's better tracks for a couple of seasons now. He comes back to the 1.5-mile oval after collecting fourth and third-place finishes there in 2009 and 2010, respectively, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him at or near the front again. He and Andretti Autosport seem to have a good grip on the place.
Drop: James Jakes
The British rookie took his first-ever laps on an oval last month in his ill-fated attempt to make the Indianapolis 500. Expect things to stay tough for the driver of the No. 18 car as he tackles a track where constant wheel-to-wheel action and vicious G-forces in the turns wear out even the heartiest of veterans.
Sleeper: Tony Kanaan
Indy showed once again that the former IZOD IndyCar Series champion is a threat to win from anywhere and at anytime. As long as his KV-Lotus team gives him a good race set-up, he'll be contending regardless of where he qualifies in the first race -- and where he lands on the blind draw for the second one.
---Chris Estrada’s picks