HOMESTEAD, Fla – Kevin Harvick says luckily the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship this weekend is at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, not the nearby American Airlines Arena. See, this is racing, not basketball. If this was basketball, then Harvick would be at a huge disadvantage in his quest for his second career championship.
See, Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is a race within itself. The highest finisher among Harvick, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. will take home the Cup championship. Since this winner-take-all format was adopted in 2014 — a Championship 4 driver won the race and title outright all five years.
Knowing that, it’s Harvick vs. three teammates this weekend. A 3-on-1 in racing is luckily aa whole lot different than one in basketball.
“Well, I think that’s yet to be determined,” Harvick said during Thursday’s Championship 4 Media Day at the Miami Beach Edition. “I think for us it’s very simple, there’s no worries in making the sponsor mad or making another team member mad or ‑‑ there is no scenario, it’s how do we get Stewart‑Haas Racing another championship, and all four teams have bought into that and want to do the exact same thing because of the fact that it’s good for Stewart‑Haas Racing.”
Busch, the 2015 series champion, says that while they have strength in numbers, having three of the four drivers in the final round could actually work against them.
“I don’t think the numbers exactly work that way,” said Busch on a potential mismatch this weekend. “There’s a double-edged sword about everything, right? So if you’ve got 400 people working for you at Joe Gibbs Racing and it’s all 400 for one, it’s 400 for one, right? Well, now it’s 400 for three versus SHR, it’s 400 for one. So with people having to spread for all three cars, does that take away from just being able to put it all into one. I don’t know. We’ll see. I think it could either be really, really good for us and reward us well, or it could be vice versa, so we’ll see what happens.”
Truex, the 2017 champion, doesn’t necessarily agree with Busch saying that the odds are greatly higher than a JGR driver will be crowned champion on Sunday evening.
“Strength in numbers,” Truex said. “I think it’s a 75% chance that Cup comes back to JGR, which all the employees there deserve, which is huge. Selfishly I want it to be my team, so that’s where I think all three of us are.”
Truex, also notes that the three teammates will race eachother differently than how they race Harvick too.
“We’ve seen teammates before get into tussles, right? I think you just take into account who the guy is and try to think about what he would do, and do the same. See what I’m saying?
“I know in ’17 Kyle was behind me, was a little bit faster. Probably could have run into me if he wanted to at some point. He didn’t. He was just trying to put the pressure on for me to mess up, but he didn’t run into me. He probably could have.
“If it was Joey Logano, would have run into him. If Kyle Busch is leading, I’m second, I’m going to do everything I can do to pass him, but I’m not going to run into him.
“I think you race guys the way you want them to race you. We got lot of experience racing with each other, we understand each other, where each guy would go, I think. We’ll see how that plays out.”