Heading into this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Texas Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott sit on the bottom two of the points standings in terms of playoff drivers. Both are Chevy drivers.
Chevrolet is getting tired of not competing for championships anymore. From 2005 through 2016, the bowties captured 10 championships in the 12 year span.
If you go back to 1984 even and end it at 2016, Chevrolet had 23 tiles compared to Ford’s 5, Pontiac’s 3, Toyota’s and Dodge’s 1 a piece. At the time of Jimmie Johnson hoisting his seventh Cup championship trophy in 2016, Dodge and Pontiac were out of NASCAR while Ford hadn’t won a title since 2004.
It was pure domination.
Chevy had won at least 10 races for 16 straight seasons. They had won at least nine races every year from 1993 though 2016 too. In fact, from 2003 through 2016, they won 15 races in a single season in 12 of 14 years.
But, that’s when the bottom started dropping out.
They won just 10 times in 2017, their lowest since having nine victories in 2000. In 2018, they won only four times, their smallest amount since only scoring three wins in 1982. This year, they’ve rebounded to win seven times, but their 11 trips to victory lane the last two years combined is smaller than every single single’s total other than 2017 (10) from 2001 on.
They’ve also failed to put a single driver in the Championship 4 in each of the last two years and have only two drivers remaining in the playoffs with title aspirations. That’s why it’s so crucial for them to finish well this weekend at Texas and next in Phoenix. Unfortunately, they’re the bottom two of the standings with two races remaining.
Also, it could be good to get another one of their chartered organizations outside of Hendrick Motorsports to compete for a championship. Hendrick has won 12 of Chevrolet’s last 15 championships. But, the only other two teams to have won in that time frame are no longer in the Chevy camp.
Stewart-Haas Racing won in 2011 and 2014 and Joe Gibbs Racing in 2005. The last current Chevy team other than Hendrick to win a title in NASCAR’s premiere series was Richard Childress Racing back in 1994. They won all six of Chevy’s titles between 1986 and 1994 with Dale Earnhardt at the helm for each.
Numbers support Larson to win the title though. Since the Championship 4 format was adopted from 2014 on, we’ve had a new champion from a new team each season. SHR (Kevin Harvick) won in 2014. Joe Gibbs Racing (Kyle Busch) won in 2015. Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports) won in 2016. Furniture Row Racing (Martin Truex Jr.) won in 2017. Team Penske (Joey Logano) won last year.
The eight driver/team combinations left in the playoffs?
Team Penske (Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano), Joe Gibbs Racing (Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch), SHR (Kevin Harvick) and Ganassi (Kyle Larson).