It’s time to put the “Big 3” aside as the reign that Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. had on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field is officially over. See, from the 2017 Cup Series playoffs through the first 23 races of the 2018 season, the trio got the moniker of the “Big 3.”
Brad Keselowski leads during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24, 2019 in Hampton, Georgia.
No one could stop them.
They won eight of the 10 races in the 2017 playoffs and followed that up with reaching victory lane in 17 of the first 23 races in 2018. Combined, that’s a 76-percent win rate. But, if you take the restrictor plate tracks out, that number grows higher to 86-percent.
That’s where everything changed for them. That’s the point where everyone caught up – most notably Team Penske.
From the Bristol night race on (15 races) they quote on quote “Big 3” has won only 20-percent of the time (3-for-15). Granted, all three made it to the Championship 4, but it was Joey Logano who beat them at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In this time frame, Brad Keselowski has won four times (27 percent). He’s won the Southern 500, the Brickyard 400, the Vegas playoff race and now Atlanta. His teammate in Logano has even won twice (Martinsville, Homestead) including last year’s championship. Ryan Blaney even won on the ROVAL to give Penske 47 percent of the wins since last August.
This past Sunday, if not for some late race bad luck with their tires, they were on track to have all three drivers finish at worst, in the top 10. There’s a strong case to where they could have gone 1-2 and had all three cars in the top five.
Other than Kyle Busch (2 wins) and Chase Elliott (2 wins) no one else has won more than once.
Martin Truex Jr. hasn’t won in 19 races. His last win came in Kentucky on July 14. Harvick, has won just once since Aug. 18 but even that win wouldn’t have counted this year under the new penalty report. So technically, his last win came on Aug. 12.
This could be the year of Penske.