Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 Race Preview

HOMESTEAD, Fla – The time is here. It’s the season finale of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 2019 season. Four drivers enter Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with only one coming out on top.

Who will it be?

How To Watch

Coverage – 3 p.m. ET

Green Flag – 3:28 p.m. ET

TV – NBC

Radio – MRN

Distance – 267 Laps/400.5 Miles

Stage Lengths – 80/80/107

Defending Winner – Joey Logano

Playoffs – Championship

Track – Homestead-Miami Speedway

End Of An Era

Sunday will mark the 18th and final time that the Homestead-Miami Speedway will serve as the Cup Series season finale. Next year, Homestead moves from the last race of the season to the spring with a mid-March date. It will also mark the first time in the history of the South Florida race track that they won’t host a November race.

See, Homestead first appeared on the NASCAR schedule in 1999. The race from 1999 through 2001 was always the second to last race of the season. Then, for 2002 up until now, it’s served as the final stop of the year.

This weekend, marks the final time that Homestead will crown a champion.

“I think it’s important to do that,” Martin Truex Jr. said of being like the Super Bowl and switching the season finale up each year. “I think it’s a great thing for the sport.  Certainly Phoenix has earned that opportunity with what they’ve done there and the fan support out there has been incredible.”

Truex, also says that there’s pros and cons of moving the finale around too.

“There’s pluses and minuses to everything, right.?” Truex continued. “I think the plus about here at Homestead, we only come here once a year.  Completely different racetrack than anywhere we go.  No other track like it.  No other mile-and-a-half true oval.  Long straightaways.  A lot of things are different about Homestead.  We don’t race here in the spring.  I like that fact.

“I don’t know that we should race for a championship somewhere where we raced already in the season, you know?  You’re going to have an idea who is going to be good.  This weekend is a total crapshoot because we haven’t been here in a year, it’s a new car, new tire, everything is different.  You have no idea what to expect.  That’s a good thing for the championship.

“The other thing is, every year a different guy wins it.  Not like there’s a favorite every year.  That’s a good thing.  I don’t know how you make every racetrack that way.

“At the same time I definitely think we should move it around.  Pluses and minuses I guess for both.”

Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate of Kyle Busch agrees. He, like Truex, credits the parity among race winners and in turn season champions too.

“Yeah, if you move it around every year, I’m in favor of that,” Busch said on Thursday. “Obviously with Homestead though, if you look at it, it’s been six different winners the last six years, right?  So that’s a pretty remarkable feat.  Might even be longer than that, I just know six.  But as far as Homestead, it’s a really, really racy place, we enjoy it as drivers and it gives itself an opportunity to put on a good show.”

Denny Hamlin is onboard and says that moving it around will force tracks to keep their facilities up to date. He notes Homestead could use to updates while Phoenix just went through a multi million dollar renovation.

“Yeah, I think as long as the facilities are up to date,” Hamlin said. “I think that’s the number one thing we have to be sure of.  That and it’s in a good market.

“I think Homestead-Miami, it’s a good market.  I think the facilities could use updating, which I think they will.  This is not the last time the finale will be in Homestead.  You can mark that down.

“Phoenix now gets their time.  They spent money on the facility.  It’s obviously a huge sports town.  They got nearly every professional sport there in that city.  It’s just a good market for us.

“People have come out and supported that race in huge capacity, and it hadn’t been a championship race.  Why not continue to feed that momentum?  Whatever they want to do, I’m good with.  As I said, it’s a good market and the facility is up to date.”

The problem though is Phoenix not Homestead hosting the championship in 2020 too is that the racing will be completely different. As the drivers above noted, we’ve seen a several years of different winners in South Florida. Phoenix, could be a place that favors one specific organization. They can take their notes from the spring race and translate them over to the Fall race.

Plus, it’s not like Phoenix’s race last Sunday was a barnburner. Homestead, typically is. Phoenix, saw very little passing all day.

“Phoenix, we all kind of saw the struggle last week a little bit and even before that you had Harvick who dominated, won six, seven in a row, whatever it was,” Busch noted. “And now the JGR cars have won four in a row.  So we know that any time you put a championship on the line though there’s going to be different things that happen and different guys that get good.”

Kevin Harvick agrees with that assessment and feels like in 2021, the season finale can’t be at Phoenix. He thinks is should move around.

“I think obviously weather’s a factor and it depends on when the schedule would end, but it would not go back to Phoenix, I can tell you that,” said Harvick. “If it was my schedule it would not go budget being to Phoenix 100 percent because, I mean, that’s just really not the point of moving the championship race around to have it in the same spot consecutive years.  So you’ve got California in that mix.  Where else?  Vegas.  I mean, in my opinion, you look at Las Vegas and that would be a great place to end it, both of those racetracks would be great places to end the schedule.”

How Will The Race Look? Landing The Setup Could Prove Difficult

The Homestead-Miami Speedway has been a popular spot to end the season. It’s all due to the nature of the racing that the race track provides. The track gets hot and slick and allows for multiple racing grooves. Unfortunately, that type of thrilling racing that we’ve seen over the years on the 1.5-mile track may look a lot different this weekend.

Homestead was a popular track among racing fans due to it being a slightly bigger Darlington. The faster way around the track was to ride around the top of the banking near the SAFER barriers.

Now, you may not be able to do that.

With this new racing package, the downforce levels are much higher than anything we’ve seen in the years past. Add lower horsepower and running the high line may not be the preferred line anymore. Plus, passing may be more difficult as the cars could encounter a lot of dirty air. How can they slip and slide like they used to with more downforce to catch them when they get out of hand?

Sunday’s race could look a lot different in that aspect.

“I just don’t see the characteristics being exactly how they have been in the past for the amount of laps and things that have happened when your car is good and when your car goes to falling off and things like that,” Kevin Harvick said on Thursday. “I think that those numbers are going to change. I don’t know exactly what that number will be as far as the crossover and falloff, but we’ll just have to see.”

So can this, the Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will likely also end in regulation too. Since the start of the Championship 4 format in 2014, the season finale in Homestead has gone to overtime just once (2016). That’s surprising with how much is on the line of this race. But, if you go back to 2007, that race in 2016 is the only race that has ended past the 400 scheduled miles.

Knowing that the racing will look different and that the race though will end on Lap 267, finding the right setup has never been more difficult.

See, from 2014 though 2018, we knew that the race itself would have an end of the race caution. It happened every year. Four of the five years, we saw a caution inside of 15 to go. Again, we know that overtime wasn’t likely, so setting up your car for short run speed was the way to go. The race winners proved that.

The difficulty in the past has been, the race started during the day and ended at night. It was challenging to hit the right setup to be decent during the day portion of the race but at its best during the night and not fall too far behind to make up for it.

“The only problem with short runs is you got to stay on the lead lap during the day,” Harvick continued. “So you have to have some good balance and good adjustability built into your car. 

“The short run has definitely been what’s won this race over the past few years, but having … the proper track position to take advantage of that short‑run speed is still necessary in the first half of the day.”

That all sounds simple enough right? Of course not. It was difficult in the past, but as Harvick warns, these are different racing packages this year. All the notes in the past are shredded.

“I don’t think these cars are going to race like what we have raced here before.”

That makes winning a championship in the Cup Series is a difficult as ever because of what’s thrown at a race team in Homestead. You literally have to hit it right in the end and can’t afford a step in the wrong direction in any facet.

It honestly puts a lot of pressure on the entire team. First, the crew chief to decide not only decide if you want short run speed or long run speed, but if you want to pit late or not too. With Homestead typically being abrasive on tires, does this new package make the tires fall off less, meaning you can go longer on a set of tires, which in turn means you can stay out of the pits late when needed. Secondly, the pressure then falls on the driver to not speed entering or exiting pit lane if they do decide to hit pit lane. Finally, the pit crew has the most burden of pressure to perform a perfect stop in the end, flawless to be exact, with no penalties.

It’s happened in literally all five years of the Championship 4. We’ve seen a late race caution change the complexion of the event. The race each year was also won by a Championship 4 member as well. That means that the first couple of stages, the playoff drivers remaining can just get by. It’s the ending where you need to be good.

If you get a late caution, you’ll need a good short run car that’s also good with night fall conditions as the race will likely end under the lights. You can compromise long green flag runs with the car not handling to the drivers’ liking in day time conditions, knowing that you’ll be able to make your car right for short run speed in the end.

Or, if you don’t get a caution, then the cars set up with long run speed will be the ones winning.

Race Winner Will Be Champion Too

While we have 40 drivers competing in Sunday’s race, realistically only four of them have a shot at winning the Ford EcoBoost 400. While it’s not out of the ordinary to have a non season champion win the season finale, under this new Championship 4 format though, it is.

The “other” 36 drivers obviously race the Championship 4 drivers differently. You don’t want to be the reason one of the four drivers still left fighting for a championship isn’t in the race anymore.

Really, if any of the other drivers is around the four going for the title, they just let them go. That’s why since this format was adopted in 2014, a Championship 4 drivers has won in each and every race.

Plus, there’s a reason the four still left fighting are winning anyways. It means they’ve likely won a lot during the season too.

So, expect Sunday’s winner to be one of the four left going for the championship this weekend.

Winning The Championship Now As Hard As Ever

Winning a championship in any sport has always been the true measuring stick of greatness. I mean, when we discuss the Mount Rushmore of any league, the first criteria is always, how many championships has he or she won?

Well, NASCAR is the same. But, to what level is greatness defined? Championships has always been it with Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson’s seven titles always being compared to.

Now, we’re in a different era though. Since 2014, NASCAR’s champion wasn’t crowed based off points. Yes, the first 35 races run during a season saw points being the reason the Championship 4 was formed, but it wasn’t the end all be all.

How many drivers have we seen have a season to where they were outside of the top 10 of the overall points standings but they march deep into the playoffs? The consistency may not have been there but they won enough races at the right time to keep going.

I mean, all you have to do in the 26 race regular season is find victory lane at least once. If you can do that and stay in the top 30 of the points standings, you’re marching to the playoffs. Then, if you win at least one race in each of the first three rounds, you get to the Championship 4.

But, from the Round of 8 on, it’s where drivers say winning a title gets tense.

“It’s stressful, man,” said 2015 series champion Kyle Busch. “It’s not stressful until the round of 8 and the round of 8 is the ultimate pressure.

“Once you get here to Homestead though I feel like it reduces. It’s just about being in the Championship 4 and being eligible there and you know you’re racing against eight of the best of that time right then and there.

“You look at it, I think we were one through eight last week at Phoenix at one point in the race, right, so it’s hard, it’s not easy and you’re racing for points, literally single points at times that can get you in or out.

“So with this format being the way that it is, it definitely takes time off you probably a little bit, it’s pretty stressful, gives you some more gray hairs than you want — or the loss of hair there for that.”

I mean, look at how stressful it is to make the Championship 4, but the guys that do so are there for a reason. Now, the title isn’t shaped off of points though like it was prior to 2014, it’s based off of who can cross the finish line first among the four championship eligible participants. To that, the drivers think that you can’t fault someone for a whole season based off of one race.

They think making the Championship 4 should hold almost as much weight now as winning a championship.

“I think there’s some merit to championship appearances,” Denny Hamlin said as a measuring stick for greatness. “I think one race, winner-take-all, anything can happen. I mean, if you have a mechanical failure on Lap 25, does that mean you’re not good enough? You made the final four.

Making the final four is the culmination of your whole year. That is what deems your year a success. You made it to Homestead.  Every single driver here will tell you that. No one is going to discount their year based off of the outcome on this weekend.”

His teammate Martin Truex Jr. agrees. While he won a title under this format (2017), he feels like winning a championship now has never been more difficult under this Championship 4 format.

“I would say the odds are a lot worse in this system to win (a championship),” Truex said on the topic. “I don’t know how to view that, to be honest. I don’t know if it’s final four appearances, straight‑up race wins. Championships are huge. I think it’s harder to win now than ever. Maybe one means more than one used to.

“I think if you look at the elimination races and the stress, the amount of decisions that are made, the amount of laps that are raced, how many things in racing can happen to you. If you get to this level and have this much success, you don’t really believe in luck any more, you know?  You can’t because if you do, then you’re relying on luck to get you where you want to go.  It’s probably not going to work out consistently.

“So I think it’s very, very difficult to get here.  I think the argument could be that final four appearances are very important.  They’re looked at in some way that is more than, Well, the guy didn’t win the championship.”

I mean, they’re not wrong. Despite this system, the cream has always rose to the top. Busch has made five straight final round appearances. Harvick, has five in six tries. Truex, has four in the last five years. Since this format was adopted, these are the top three drivers in nearly every statistical category.

But, each has just one championship to their name in NASCAR’s top level. With one race shaping the champion, do we compare them to Petty, Earnhardt and Johnson? If so, they fall way short.

“Yeah, I’m behind for sure,” Busch said of where he’d like to be now compared to his goals. “Definitely behind and in wins and championships.  Why?  The list goes on.  It’s a pretty long one.  So how many can you get now is about where it’s at.”

Busch, says that while he’s arguably a generational talent, if he only gets one championship, it would “suck.”

“If I end with one, that’s going to suck,” Busch continued. “If I can only get two, well, whatever.  But three, four, five, I think five’s still achievable.

“When you get to this final race in this moment, this championship format the way that it is, and five years in a row and you only come away with one, that gets pretty defeating.”

Do we judge him differently though? In a day and age where winning is arguably more important than ever, Busch has made it to the final round five straight years. Shouldn’t that hold as much merit as one championship?

Since this format was adopted, the only champion since 2014 to have won at least a second title has been Jimmie Johnson. If you go back to 2012, Johnson is the only driver to have won multiple titles in his career in that time frame.

Just think about it. Brad Keselowski (2012), Harvick (2014), Busch (2015), Truex Jr. (2017) and Logano (2018) have all won championships over the last seven years but that has been their first and only. Denny Hamlin is trying to join that list as he’s the only driver in the Championship 4 to have never won a title.

He knows that and hears the noise, but also points out that history appears to also be on his side. If he somehow doesn’t win the race and the championship on Sunday, do we look at 2019 as a failure?

He’s won six times. Has more top fives and top 10’s in this season than any other season during his career. He won the Daytona 500, won the Bristol Night Race, made it to the Championship 4, but is a title the only thing we gauge off of?

Momentum? What Momentum?

As hard as it is to believe, if you rank the four Championship 4 drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series right now in order of who you think will likely hoist the championship trophy at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday evening, Kyle Busch’s name will like have a number “4” next to it.

Yes, the driver who’s won 207 times in his storied NASCAR career, 55 times alone in the Cup Series, one that has made the Championship 4 in five straight years now, is the least likely to win the championship this weekend.

How?

Well, it’s simple, Busch heads to a winner-take-all situation when he alone hasn’t won in 22 races himself. The last time Busch pulled his No. 18 Toyota into victory lane was at the Pocono Raceway on June 2.

Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) has been won by a Championship 4 driver in every year since its inception in 2014. So, it’s highly likely Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. or Kevin Harvick will win on Sunday.

Since Busch’s last trip to victory lane, the other three drivers have won a combined 12 times in a 21 race span. Each have won four times a piece. In terms of 1.5-mile tracks this season, the same size that we’ll race on this weekend, Truex and Hamlin have won two races each of them with Harvick winning two weeks ago in Texas. Busch, has been shutout.

Plus, each of the last three races won on the season were Truex-Hamlin-Harvick. Hamlin, has five top five finishes in his last six races run and six in the last eight overall. Truex, has a top seven finish in literally eight of the nine playoff races run. Harvick, has 10 top 10 finishes in his last 11 starts.

Busch, meanwhile hasn’t won a race in over five months to go along with just five top 10’s in his last 10 starts on the season. Don’t the other guys have the most momentum?

Well, Busch is starting to get some. He finished runner-up last Sunday in Phoenix. Three of his five top 10 finishes since September have come in the last four weeks. Despite that, Busch isn’t a big believer in momentum.

“(Martin) Truex said it and agree with him, Momentum don’t mean shit,” Busch said on Thursday during Media Day in Miami. “Because I won Phoenix last year and went to Homestead and should have finished 14th, we ran terrible.  I didn’t win through the Playoffs in 2015, went into the championship race as the underdog, shouldn’t even be there, no chance to win, and we won.  So it’s all about, what can you do for me now.  It used to be, what have you done for me lately, now it’s, what can you do for me now.

He could be right. Sunday isn’t about points — it’s about winning. Nothing else matters. Nothing else matters for the previous 35 races run in 2019. If you can make it this far, you’re a championship contender. No flukes get to Homestead and race for a championship.

Toyota Eyeing 2nd Title In 3 Years As Well As 3rd In Last 5

There’s no reason to believe that Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota won’t be hoisting the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy on Sunday evening in South Florida. Since the Championship 4 format was adopted in 2014, the Ford EcoBoost 400 race winner has been won by one of the Championship 4 drivers each and every year. Why would this year be any different?

So, might as well pick the team that has won the most lately – Joe Gibbs Racing/Toyota.

Toyota has won three of the last six races at the Homestead-Miami Speedway anyways. Then, they’ve won 18 of the 35 races run this season including five of the nine in the postseason.

Makes sense for the best team on the 1.5-mile track and the best team on the season would win Sunday’s race too right?

Plus, they have three of the four drivers vying for the title as well.

If a Toyota driver can win the championship, it would be their second in the last three years and third in the last five overall. That’s an amazing feat. Plus, it’s a sign that this isn’t  your grandpa’s NASCAR anymore.

NASCAR has always been an American sport. From American drivers, driving American vehicles while racing on American tracks with predominately American fans in the grandstands has been NASCAR’s grassroots.

That’s why when Toyota came into NASCAR’s premiere series in 2007, it was met with some resistance. They struggled in year No. 1 with zero trips to victory lane, but that’s where everything changed. Toyota lured JGR over and it’s been all out dominance ever since.

Toyota won 10 times in 2008 and that kick started them into prominence. But, their most success has happened since NASCAR adopted the Championship 4 format.

Both Toyota and Chevrolet has won two championships apiece since 2014 while Ford has taken the other, but if you go for all out wins over the last five seasons, no one can touch Toyota.

The Toyota teams have won 78 races since 2014 compared to 68 by Chevrolet and 68 from Ford. But, 76 of those wins have come since 2015 though. Toyota won 16 races in 2015 and again in 2016, followed by 13 last year and 17 more this season.

They’ve two of the last four championships and eyeing their third in the last five years on Sunday afternoon.

They’ve won all the big races this season too. They went 1-2-3 in the Daytona 500. They won the Coca-Cola 600, the Bristol Night Race and the Southern 500. A championship is all that’s missing.

Ford 0 Titles From 2005 Through 2017, Looking For 2nd Straight

When Kurt Busch won the 2004 Cup Series championship, it was the second straight not just for Roush/Fenway Racing but for Ford’s as well. It looked then like the blue ovals may be the next superior manufacturer in NASCAR.

In the decade of the 1990s, the bowties had won eight championships in a nine year span. But, from the close of the decade (1999) through the mid 2000’s (2004), Ford had started to take over.

In the six years between 1999 and 2004, Ford had won three championships. Chevy had just one. Pontiac had the other two.

Unfortunately for Ford, it’s been all Chevy since.

Chevrolet won the Cup Series title in literally seven straight years after that including nine of the next 10 overall. Ford’s next championship didn’t come until last year even.

That’s right, Ford went 13 years without a Cup championship in NASCAR. Now, they’re looking for their second straight on Sunday.

Parity In Playoffs

While JGR has won five of the nine playoff races run during these playoffs, the parity is still high. Kevin Harvick became the fifth different driver from the fifth different team to win this postseason with his victory a couple of weeks ago at the Texas Motor Speedway. Furthermore, since the final race of the opening round, we’ve had five different teams to have won the last eight races.

Chase Elliott with Hendrick Motorsports won on the ROVAL. Kyle Larson with Chip Ganassi Racing then won the next week at Dover. Ryan Blaney with Team Penske reached victory lane a week after that in Talladega. Denny Hamlin with Joe Gibbs Racing then won the Round of 12 cutoff race at Kansas. Martin Truex Jr. won the opening race of the Round of 8 at Martinsville with JGR while Harvick’s (SHR) win in Texas two weekend’s ago kept the historic streak going.

Hamlin, won last Sunday in Phoenix to end the string.

Six different race winners over the last seven races. Someone has to win Sunday to end this streak.

A Tale Of The Tape, Who Wins The Championship

The road ends on Sunday at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. 40 drivers take to the 1.5-mile South Florida race track, but only four are still championship eligible. Who among the final four takes home some shiny new hardware on Sunday evening?

There isn’t much parity when it comes to drivers vying for the title. While we’ve had five different champions from five different organizations in the first five years of this new format, the drivers in the Championship 4 this year have all been here before.

The stage isn’t too big for them this weekend.

Martin Truex Jr. 

Wins: 7

Top 5’s: 14

Top 10’s: 23

Laps Led: 1,268

Championship 4 Appearances: 4 (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019)

Kevin Harvick

Wins: 4

Top 5’s: 14

Top 10’s: 25

Laps Led: 912

Championship 4 Appearances: 5 (2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019)

Kyle Busch

Wins: 4

Top 5’s: 16

Top 10’s: 26

Laps Led: 1,463

Championship 4 Appearances: 5 (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)

Denny Hamlin

Wins: 6

Top 5’s: 19

Top 10’s: 23

Laps Led: 920

Championship 4 Appearances: 2 (2014, 2019)

Big 3 +1

The mood was light on Thursday in South Florida. That’s surprising in that it’s Championship Weekend for all three levels of NASCAR. Despite that, all four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers that are vying for the championship on Sunday were loose.

“Last year (Joey) Logano was fast off the truck, kicked our ass all weekend long,” joked Kyle Busch during Championship Four Media Day. “It’s a matter of being good, being prepared, the team doing a really good job with the car, getting ready to rock’n roll when you get to practice.

“This is the big three with the new one.  Just like last year, we got our ass spanked by the new one.”

Busch, was right in a sense that the “Big 3” last year combined to win 17 of the first 21 races to the season. It was Logano though that stole the show once the postseason started and not only won the Ford EcoBoost 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway last November, his victory allowed him to steal the championship from Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick.

Now, the “Big 3” are all back for another go of it this year while a new comer joins them. See, this is Harvick’s fifth Championship 4 appearance in six years. Busch, has also made five appearances, all coming in-a-row. Truex, has been to three straight and four of the last five himself.

For Denny Hamlin, this is just his second appearance in the final round, the first since 2014 though.

“No, they haven’t,” Hamlin said on if he’s been reminded a lot from his competition that they’ve all won a championship and he hasn’t. “I think they’re all aware that I have not.  I think it’s been well-documented at this point, so no.”

This group holds a lot of respect for one another. No trash talk is needed. They all know what they have to do on Sunday and they know that it won’t be a fluke if any one of the other three drivers that they’re facing beats them to the finish line.

“Well, I think this format has been played five years,” Hamlin said on his competition this weekend having so much experience in the final round before. “You look at how many times these three have made it to the final four under different rules packages, different cars, different everything.  They have been the standard year in, year out.

“You see one or two guys poke in that final four here and there.  But I think it would be most gratifying if we did win because this is the best.  This is by far the best in any category that you can try to put together.

“Certainly would mean more because of that reason.”

Strength In Numbers Could Work For Or Against JGR

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.”

Hamlin Goes From Hot Seat To Verge Of Championship

Heading into the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Denny Hamlin had to be worried about if his days with Joe Gibbs Racing were numbered. He was approaching his late 30’s in terms of age and riding a winless streak that dated back to 2017. With a driver like Christopher Bell coming up and needing a place to go in 2020, Hamlin’s seat was growing warmer.

Another winless season in 2019 like he had in 2018 and his job could be in jeopardy. I mean, if you look at the preseason championship odds, Hamlin was listed with Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola at 22/1.

GettyImages-1182316434-781x520
Denny Hamlin battles his teammate Martin Truex Jr. in last month’s playoff race at the Kansas Speedway

His zero wins in 2018 was the first year that he failed to score a single victory. His 10 top fives were the fewest since seven in 2014. His 17 top 10’s were the least amount for him since 2013. His 380 laps led were the fewest since 2013 and 2014.

With Kyle Busch making the Championship 4 in 2015, his title winning year, 2016, 2017 and 2018, no way JGR would cut ties with him. They just brought in Martin Truex Jr. who had won the 2017 championship and he himself making the final round in three of the last four years.

Erik Jones was still young and developing. He even won in 2018. All three would hold solid ground at JGR. Bell does too. What about Hamlin?

Then, he goes out and gets into a practice crash in Daytona and it’s one that Hamlin says got him the tongue lashing of all kinds from his boss Joe Gibbs.

“I’ve been part of the worst,” Hamlin says tongue lashing from Gibbs. “The worst was this year in Daytona.  Literally, I mean, top lip gets trembling.  I’m looking over at Coy, hoping he’s going to save me from this.  But he’s not.

“Basically we had a practice plan, and I felt like I needed to get in the pack and draft.  As soon as I made my way to the back of the pack, someone wrecked and I got in it.  They were furious, to say the least, absolutely furious.

“He’s like, You’re going to pay for that car.”

Well, he silenced any doubters with his Daytona 500 triumph in February. It was his first win since the 2017 Southern 500. He became the first driver playoff eligible. Last Sunday, he became the last driver Championship eligible. Now, can he bookend his 2019 season with a win in the season opener as well as the season finale to take home his first Cup championship as a result?

Since the Championship 4 was adopted in 2014, the series champion has won the race at Homestead every year. That’s why Hamlin has to win on Sunday.

But, his season may already have been won even if he doesn’t earn a title. See, this is arguably Hamlin’s best season. He’s won six times, most since he won eight in 2010. He has career highs in 19 top five finishes and 23 top 10’s. He’s led 920 laps, most since 2012. He has a career best 9.5 average finishing spot too.

He won the Daytona 500, the Bristol Night race and is now looking for a championship. How great of a season is it for him to do all of this with his back against the wall?

“I think outside people have been more optimistic about my talents than maybe I have at times,” Hamlin said. “But there’s also times where I’ll do something, last week for instance, I mean, I’m pretty (expletive) good at this.  I can do this.

“I know I’ve won big races.  I stepped up to the plate when it’s really mattered.  It hasn’t always equaled a championship, but I definitely think the narrative should be changed simply based off of last week.  I mean, that was going to be our final race unless we won it.

“I think we’ve won Daytona 500 in the closest finish coming from behind on the final lap.  I mean, those are clutch moments, right?

“I just think any time you have a goose egg in the big category, the championships, people will always put together, Well, why didn’t that happen?  He choked in 2010.

“Well, in Phoenix I was kicking everyone’s ass, my car ran out of gas.  Essentially I would have had to start my car in Homestead.  Certainly I made terrible decisions in Homestead.  I still had a very, very good chance to win it.

“That was one of the moments where I was so distraught from Phoenix, Homestead was a complete blur because I was so enraged, I can’t believe we’re in the situation, we should be able to cruise through this weekend.  That was not having the mentality of, So what, now what.  Can’t help what happened, let’s move on, figure out what we can do right now.”

Hamlin, says now that his confidence has never been higher.

No.  Not even in 2010 when we were really fast every week.”

Trends Say Hamlin Will Win Sunday

Among the four drivers still eligible to win this year’s championship, only Denny Hamlin is left who hasn’t won a Cup championship during the course of his career. Trends say, he will win. Here’s why.

Out of the last five years under his new Championship 4 format, we’ve had five different champions from five different teams. We know that we will have a first repeat champion in terms of an organization as the ones remaining have all won a title since 2014.

But, three of the four have won a title too. Hamlin, hasn’t.

Also, four of the five years have also seen the champion be a first time champ as well. Jimmie Johnson in fact is the only driver since 2012 to win at least a second championship. Everyone else in that time frame earned their first title.

Hamlin, could keep this trend going on Sunday.

Plus, he’s having a career year too. If Hamlin doesn’t win the championship this year though, then the doubt if he’d ever win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title will creep in. See, Hamlin is racing as good now as he’s ever been in NASCAR’s premiere series.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has six wins in 2019, tied for second most in a single season for his career. He also has a career high 19 top fives and 23 top 10’s. His average finish is 9.7, best of his career for a single season too.

Hamlin, won the Daytona 500 for the second time of his career back in February. He also won the Bristol Night Race. He came into the Round of 8 with three straight top five finishes and four in his last five starts. Among those was a win in Kansas.

He began the third round of the playoffs with a fourth place finish in Martinsville. But, following a rare mistake at Texas last weekend, Hamlin went from a championship favorite to 20 points behind the final cutoff spot.

He needed to win in each of the next two races to win this year’s championship. Being 20 points arrears, it was a lot to make up in one race. Then, since this Championship 4 format was adopted in 2014, the champion has won the race outright at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in all five years. Hamlin’s gone to victory lane in two straight races twice – 2010 and 2012. Can he do so again in 2019 and earn a title?

He won in Phoenix in walk off fashion. Part 1 done. Can he get Part 2? These are tall tasks. If he can’t comparisons between he and Mark Martin are coming up.

Martin, raced 31 years. He never won a title. He finished runner-up in the standings five times and had 40 trips to victory lane, but a championship eluded him.

Hamlin, has 37 wins in 15 seasons. He’s been close before too. He just hasn’t won a championship.

“You adjust your expectations,” Hamlin said last Friday at ISM Raceway. “No matter what, I will not consider this year any sort of a failure. We, as Mark Martin would say, just didn’t score enough points. We had a great year, we won races, we led more laps than we have in a long time and more top fives than anybody in the series.

“It’s been a really good year and I’m just not going to let the outcome of this weekend, or last weekend, decide whether it’s a good season or not. I think you have to adjust to that. Because in a one-race, winner-take-all (format) or a three-race round – anything can happen, and it did for us.”

Hamlin, said he’d be okay if he never wins a championship and is compared to Martin when his career is all said and done.

“I think Mark Martin said it best, ‘You can still be respected and still have a really successful career without winning a championship,’” Hamlin said. “I read that he thinks about now that he’s 60 years old, he looks back and thinks would a championship make any difference in my life right now? He says, ‘No, it wouldn’t.’

“I’m at that point. I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. I know what I’m capable of, I think my competitors know what I’m capable of and I appreciate all the love the media has given me over the last two, three weeks. It’s been incredible. Probably not all of it deserved, but I also think we have to give some love to the other competitors as well. Everyone is looking at is the 11 gonna win?

“They all have an equal chance we have to give them the due respect as well. I’ll do the best I can and see what the outlook can be.”

Doubts Crept Into Harvick’s Mind During Season

Kevin Harvick entered the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season among the favorites to hoist the championship trophy in the season ending race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Fast forward nine months – we were right.

Harvick, heads to the Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) back into the final round in NASCAR’s premiere series for the fifth time in six years. But, unlike the previous five times he’s made it here, this one was different.

See, Harvick’s path to Homestead in the past was simple. In 2014, it only took him two races to become playoff eligible. In 2015, three races. In 2016, it was just four races. In 2018, he won in just the second race. In 2017 though, he didn’t win until Sonoma – 16 races into the season. Other than winless seasons in 2004, 2008 and 2009, Harvick had never gone that late into a year without reaching victory lane.

Still, in the playoffs, he had always been strong and almost every year marched easily into the Championship 4. This year, well it was different.

It took Harvick 21 races to find victory lane this season. That was in late July at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His car through the first 20 races run wasn’t up to par than everyone else’s.

He had only scored five top five finishes heading into New Hampshire, none of which being better than fourth. He also only had 11 top 10’s. By comparison, in 2018, he had five wins by that point to go along with 14 top five finishes and 15 top 10’s.

So, forgive Harvick for doubts settling in.

Oh, yeah, a lot of doubts,” Harvick said on Thursday from Media Day. “I think as we started the season the results weren’t bad, we had mediocre results, I think for what we expect as the No. 4 team. So, but it’s been a grind and a battle week-in and week-out as to what do we need, what do we need to do different, because the thought process is just so much different than what we have ever done before.”

Harvick, credits that eye opening start to the season though as to why they’re in this point today.  While it’s been draining to get this ship turned around, it paid off and that’s a testament to the people and group around this team. They didn’t stop until they figured out where they were lacking in speed.

Once they found it, they took off.

“I think as an organization we have had to struggle through that and it’s been a grind,” Harvick continued. “So I wouldn’t, I would be lying to you if I told you it wasn’t taxing on everybody in order, in the amount of work that has been put in to get to this point.  But that’s the good part about working at Stewart-Haas is you have a group of racers and that’s what they want to do, they want to be competitive and they’re not satisfied with finishing 4th like we did I think five or so races in the first seven or eight.  So we want to, we have to, you have to believe able to lead laps.  You have to be able to lead laps and you have to get Top 5s in order to have a chance at winning races.

“And we just, we just weren’t at that point in the first half of the year and I feel like we have still been sporadic in the style of racetrack that we can lead laps on.  I think Phoenix is obviously, you know, those types of racetracks have been our toughest for us in order to navigate and get what we think we need out of those particular weekends, but we have done a good job at being able to get our speed back on the mile-and-a-halfs and really — we made the Roval better from where we were last year and those were really what became the focus of the second half of the year were the Roval and getting our speed back on the mile-and-a-half racetracks to where you could lead laps.”

Harvick, went 0-for-20 to start 2019 off with but 3-for-7 after. He had six top seven finishes in the final seven races of the regular season.

In the playoffs, Harvick just kind of got by. He wasn’t dominant but he wasn’t bad. In the first two rounds, he had five top 10 finishes in six tries. In the third round, he capitalized on past speed at Texas and won the playoff race for the third consecutive year.

Now, he’s back to Homestead trying to win his 50th career Cup race to go along with his second championship.

Just 1 Championship Would “Suck” For Busch

There’s no doubt about it, Kyle Busch is definitely a generational talent. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has won 207 times in his NASCAR career. No one has won as many NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series races nor NASCAR XFINITY Series races than Busch — having taken 56 trips to victory lane in a Truck and 96 in NXS competition.

On the Cup level, he’s also won an astounding 55 times during the course of his storied career. Busch, 34, still isn’t happy with where he sits today though.

“Yeah, I’m behind for sure,” Busch said of where he’d like to be now compared to his goals. “Definitely behind and in wins and championships.  Why?  The list goes on.  It’s a pretty long one.  So how many can you get now is about where it’s at.”

Busch, isn’t whining, so don’t even try. I get why he has “haters” but you can’t deny the mans talent. You can’t deny his desire or passion either. That’s what makes him great. The great ones are never satisfied. That’s why they stand out above the pack.

Tom Brady just said last week that despite him winning last year’s Super Bowl, the Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles still haunts him.

The great ones remember their defeats way more than their losses and for Busch, he falls into that category. He hates to lose. Find me someone who does.

For Busch, he wins way more than others, but what irks him is that he’s only scored one championship on the Cup level. For a generational talent, he knows that’s not enough.

“If I end with one, that’s going to suck,” Busch continued. “If I can only get two, well, whatever.  But three, four, five, I think five’s still achievable.”

Busch, heads to the Homestead-Miami Speedway for the fifth straight year with a chance at a championship. With this format first coming around in 2014, only Kevin Harvick has had as many appearances as Busch in the Championship 4.

The Las Vegas native though is putting a lot of pressure on himself this weekend — he wants to win the championship. He’s been in this moment too many times to have hoisted the Cup just once.

“When you get to this final race in this moment, this championship format the way that it is, and five years in a row and you only come away with one, that gets pretty defeating.”

Busch, says there’s just been “too many missed opportunities” in the past that he’s not willing to let happen on Sunday.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there that could’a should’a would’a and it just didn’t happen so, for whatever reason.  And we just got to figure out how to leave all that behind this weekend though and go out there and succeed.

“You set your goal out for the beginning of the year to be able to go out there and do that and everybody’s goal there after is to always just get to Homestead and if we’re, if we’re eligible for Homestead, then we can go after that championship. So I always look at it though as we want to be able to go out and win the championship.  So for us to be eligible five years in a row I think is a pretty cool thing, but to come out with one of four is not so cool.

The other factor is this format itself. It’s no longer points racing for a championship. Yes, you points race for 35 weeks, but the final one, points are thrown out the window.

“It’s stressful, man.  It’s not stressful until the round of 8 and the round of 8 is the ultimate pressure.  Once you get here to Homestead though I feel like it reduces. “It’s just about being in the Championship 4 and being eligible there and you know you’re racing against eight of the best of that time right then and there.

“You look at it, I think we were one through eight last week at Phoenix at one point in the race, right, so it’s hard, it’s not easy and you’re racing for points, literally single points at times that can get you in or out.

“So with this format being the way that it is, it definitely takes time off you probably a little bit, it’s pretty stressful, gives you some more gray hairs than you want — or the loss of hair there for that.

“But past that, just — crew chief, yeah, I would agree with — I mean, Adam, the whole Playoffs he’s been working 90 hour weeks plus.  And so it’s crazy the stress and the difficulty and the sacrifice that his family has to go through for all this to work and for all of this to come together.  So I know it is my ultimate reward back to him as well as all the families involved on our team to bring home the championship.”

Busch Hasn’t Won Since June 2, Can He Still Get Championship On Sunday?

Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are certainly the favorites to win the Cup Series championship this weekend. All three are in the Championship 4 by virtue of their race wins in the Round of 8. Truex, won at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway while Harvick won a week later at the Texas Motor Speedway and Hamlin at the ISM Raceway last Sunday.

But, the other driver (Kyle Busch) is here based off past playoff points.

Lets be honest, Busch had mulligans in his bank account while others had opportunities but couldn’t capitalize. Busch hasn’t won a race since June. Despite that, he’s into the final round in a new era that rewards winning.

How?

Busch, has three top five’s in his last 10 races run.

While Busch is a past champion, he hasn’t looked like one during this year’s postseason..

The others that have been eliminated already, have arguably ran better, but they didn’t have the points built up like Busch did. There was such a large disparity of playoff points accumulated for Busch that even when he wasn’t contending for race wins, a solid top 10 or top 15 would suffice.

An example, Busch has 46 playoff points — Here’s what all of the drivers  that have been eliminated through through rounds have scored in terms of their playoff points – Logano (31), Elliott (24), Keselowski (24), Larson (11), KuBusch (11), Blaney (9), Bowman (5), Jones (5), Almirola (1), Byron (1) and Newman (0).

Now, with the spotlight on, can he beat Hamlin, Truex and Harvick in terms of raw speed? After all, that’s all that matters now. Who can beat the other three to win a championship?

In all five previous years under this format, the champion won the race at Homestead outright too. Busch, is riding a 22 race winless streak. Since his last win on June 2, the other three drivers have won four times a piece and all three races last round.

Truex, has eight top seven finishes in nine playoff starts with Harvick scoring eight top 10’s. Hamlin, has two wins in four weeks to go along with five top five finishes in his last six starts overall and six in the last seven. They have the most momentum and speed right now. Can they keep that going or can Busch steal a win?

Penske Shutout Of Championship 4 For Just The 2nd Time, Looking To Finish Best In Class

Team Penske has had a widly successful racing year in 2019. Simon Pagenaud swept the Month of May for them at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in NTT IndyCar Series competition. He won the INDYCAR Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 pole as well as the Indy 500 itself. In the end, it was Josef Newgarden who brought him home a third championship in the last four IndyCar seasons.

In IMSA, they won the title in sports car competition as well. Then, last week, Penske announced that they have acquired the rights to not just the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but the entire IndyCar Series as well.

Unfortunately, their NASCAR season won’t end with a title to join that highly decorated list of accomplishments.

In Phoenix, they still had two drivers championship eligible, but Ryan Blaney’s third place finish and Joey Logano’s ninth place runs weren’t enough to propel either to the Championship 4.

This is just the second time since the Championship 4 format was adopted in 2014 that Penske didn’t have a driver vying for the Cup title. 2015 was the only other year that they didn’t. In 2014, 2016 and 2018, it was Joey Logano’s turn. In 2017, it was Brad Keselowski’s.

Logano, was hoping to become just the 11th driver to even win back-to-back championships. He came up just short. There’s a reason the 10 drivers to have done so are on that list.

Just look at the names – Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Lee Petty, Buck Baker and Joe Weatherly.

It’s the best of the best.

Johnson won five straight from 2006 through 2010 but prior to him, the last driver to go back-to-back was Gordon in 1997 and again in 1998. Earnhardt did so on three different occasions, two of which coming in the 90’s. But, over the last 31 years, just three times has someone gone back-to-back.

Logano, won’t be the fourth.

He had a fast car in Phoenix but a weird adjustment following his Stage 2 pit stop cost him a chance. Also, he’s been widely inconsistent since his last win on June 10.

The Team Penske driver last won at the Michigan International Speedway in early June. That’s 21 races ago. In the 20 races since his win, the defending series champion has scored just three top five finishes. In fact, he’s had two top fives over the last 18 races run.

Furthermore, over the last 15 races, Logano has brought his No. 22 Ford home 10th or worse in 10 of them.

But, here he is fighting with his teammates and Kyle Larson for fifth in points. In all reality, I can see Penske drivers finishing 5-6-7 and taking the best in class not of the Championship 4.

Logano, has four straight top six finishes in Homestead.

Keselowski, is looking for his sixth top 10 finish in the final standings in the last seven years. He has tapered off during the playoffs. Through the first round, he had three straight top five finishes. But, in the Round of 12, he was 11th, 25th and 19th. That got him eliminated. In the Round of 8, Keselowski had two top 10 finishes in three tries. Now, he’s hoping to end the year with three in his final four starts. In Homestead, Keselowski has five top seven finishes in his last eight tries.

Then there’s arguably Penske’s hottest driver in Blaney. He was fifth, eighth and third in the Round of 8. Unfortunately, his lack of playoff points kept him from advancing over Busch. But, Blaney has four top eight finishes, three of which being in the top five in his last five starts on the season. His only drawback is that his best finish in four Homestead tries is 17th. He’s finished in the top 10 in each of the last three years in the final standings – 9th, 10th, 6th. Now, he’s hoping for a fourth and to even inch closer to a best career finish of fifth.

Logano, leads the battle for fifth by 23 points over Kyle Larson. Blaney, is 41 points out while Keselowski is 45 out himself. But, Larson holds just an 18 point advantage over Blaney and 22 point gap over Keselowski.

It’s a Ganassi vs. Penske battle for fifth as Penske would certainly like to bump Larson out of there and get 5th, 6th and 7th in the standings.

Larson Going For 5th Place Points Finish

Kyle Larson was disappointed to get eliminated from championship contention last Sunday in Phoenix. But, he was at least proud of he and his team to make it this far. This was the first time that either have made it past the second round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Now, they’re looking to beat the Penske’s to grab fifth in the final standings.

Larson, enters Sunday’s season finale 23 points behind Joey Logano for those honors. He’s also 18 points ahead of Ryan Blaney and 22 over Brad Keselowski. It will likely be a four driver battle for that fifth spot, which holds some weight.

See, while the focus is on the Championship 4, being the best driver not among those guys is at least something to hang your hat onto.

While Penske would like to finish 5-6-7, Larson is the guy in the middle keeping them from doing that. Plus, Larson can easily get to fifth.

He heads to Homestead with two top 10’s in his last three starts on the season. Also, Homestead is arguably his best track. He was fifth in 2015, second in 2016, third in 2017 and 13th last year. He’s led 132 laps in 2016, 145 more in 2017 and 45 last year.

Meanwhile, Logano hasn’t won since June 10. He’s had just three top five finishes since. Blaney, hasn’t finished better than 17th in his four Homestead tries.

It’s shaping up for Larson to get to fifth.

Ending The Year Strong

While the sole focus this weekend is on the Championship 4 in all three NASCAR divisions, everyone else is just trying to head into the offseason with some momentum. Right now, several drivers in the Cup Series have it. This weekend, they want to keep it.

Ryan Blaney has finished in the top 10 in each of the last three years in the final standings. He’s currently seventh. Coming into Homestead, Blaney has four top eight finishes, three of which being in the top five, in his last five starts.

His teammate Brad Keselowski is starting to find solid ground again. He had three straight top five finishes in the first round of the playoffs, but was only 11th, 25th and 19th in the Round of 12. The last round saw him get two top 10 finishes in three tries. Now, he’s aiming to get three top 10’s in his last four starts on the season.

Same can be said for Kyle Larson and his teammate Kurt Busch. Larson, was fourth last weekend and has five top 10’s in nine playoff races. A top six finish in the final standings and three top 10’s in his last four starts of 2019 would go a long way too. For Busch, he has five top 11 finishes in his last six starts on the year.

Erik Jones is starting to heat back up too. Jones, has three top 10 finishes in his last four starts and is looking for a fourth.

You can’t count out Clint Bowyer either. He has six top 11 finishes in his last eight starts on the season. A seventh on Sunday would go a long way towards momentum to get back into victory lane in 2020.

See a theme? The Championship 4 is still marching for a reason. Blaney, Keselowski, Larson, Busch, Jones and Bowyer are the next best and hoping to end the year that way too.

In terms of drivers searching for some momentum, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott need it. Logano, hasn’t won since June 10 and has scored only three top 10’s since. Elliott, is coming off of a disastrous Round of 8 which saw him finish 36th, 32nd and 39th respectively. Those two don’t want to go into the offseason with a bad taste in their mouths.

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