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.
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?