It’s about time to figure out who’s going to be competing for this year’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Right now, the four drivers that are currently on the good side of the playoff bracket are familiar.
Martin Truex and Kevin Harvick know that they are in by virtue of their wins in each of the last two weeks. The Championship 4 berth for Truex is his third straight and fourth in the last five years. For Harvick, it’s his fifth in six tries.
But, the two “wild card” drivers right now are Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. If they can make it on too, it would be the exact same Championship 4 as last year’s.
Busch, has four straight Championship 4 appearances and Logano two in the last three years.
If Busch can make it, this would mark the third straight year that he, Harvick and Truex had raced each other in the Championship 4. The previous two years, they raced a Penske driver (Brad Keselowski in 2017 and Logano in 2018). Will it be that way again in 2019?
Plus, Busch and Logano appear poised to make it in on points. Busch is +22 and Logano +20. Those are a lot of points for the four drivers not currently in to make up in one race.
Chase Elliott was 22 points down heading into the Round of 12 cutoff race at the Kansas Speedway and finished second to make it on. But, I don’t know if a scenario like that happens in Phoenix.
What’s weird is, Busch and Logano haven’t won since June 2 and June 10 respectively. Those are winless droughts of 20 and 19 races too. That’s the longest droughts of drivers in the playoffs. In a day and age where winning is rewarded more than ever before, two drivers riding more than a half of a season victory lane droughts are on the verge of pointsing their ways to the Championship 4.
The four drivers chasing them have all won in the playoffs.
Denny Hamlin is -20 but won just two weeks ago in Kansas. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson are each -23 and have won at Talladega (Blaney) and Dover (Larson) in the Round of 12. Chase Elliott is -78 and won on the Charlotte ROVAL.
That’s four of the last six winners of the playoffs on the wrong side of the playoff grid with one race remaining to set the final round. How bizarre is that?
Busch, is the obvious favorite for Phoenix as since the start/finish line was moved, he’s undefeated (2-for-2). He also has three top two finishes in-a-row at Phoenix as well.
Playoff drivers finished 1-2-3-5-6 back in March with Blaney being in third, Hamlin fifth and Larson sixth. Elliott, was the worst among the non top four back in the spring race in 14th. Logano, was 10th himself.