The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will conclude Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and four drivers are in the running to become the 2018 champion.
“The Big Three” of defending champion Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick have seemed destined since the spring to be in the mix at this weekend’s Ford EcoBoost 400, combining for 20 wins in 35 races. The fourth competitor, Joey Logano, earned his spot with a win at Martinsville two weeks ago.
Here’s a closer look at the four drivers competing for the title at the 1.5-mile track.
No. 18 • Joe Gibbs Racing
“I would predict this is the best four, the closest four that have been in our sport in a long time.”
The 2015 champion has eight wins, including last week’s victory at Phoenix. He is tied for the series lead in poles with five (with brother Kurt) and has 21 top-fives. Busch won his only title by holding off Harvick for the win at Homestead three years ago, but that is his only victory in the Cup series at the track. Busch has two other top-fives and six total top-10s in 13 visits to Miami. Joe Gibbs Racing has won four titles in all: Bobby Labonte in 2000 and twice with Tony Stewart (2002, 2005).
No. 4 • Stewart Haas Racing
“I think we have a shot every time we show up.”
Busch spoiled Harvick’s chance at back-to-back titles in 2015, but the 2014 champion has gone win-for-win with the No. 18 this season. His eight wins matched Busch for the most by any driver, and his 22 top-fives and 28 top-10s were both tops in the series. Like Busch, Harvick got his only Homestead win in his championship season, but he has 15 top-10s in 17 appearances at the track and has been in the top four each of the last four years — coinciding with his time with Stewart Haas Racing. The team is looking for its third title (Tony Stewart, 2011).
No. 22 • Team Penske
“You know what, I think we’re the favorite now to win.”
Logano’s best series finish was a second in 2016, when he lost out to Jimmie Johnson. With just two race wins this season, Logano is considered the underdog to “The Big Three.” But the No. 22 car has been hot down the stretch, bumping past Truex for the win at Martinsville on Oct. 28 and finishing in the top eight for five straight races before Sunday’s 37th-place finish at Phoenix. Homestead wasn’t kind to Logano early in his career, but he has two fourths and a sixth in the past three races there. Team Penske has one championship (Brad Keselowski, 2012) and is looking for its first win at Homestead.
Martin Truex Jr.
No. 78 • Furniture Row Racing
“It’s been an amazing, amazing ride together, and hopefully we can get down there next week and make our owners proud and just live up to our potential.”
With his team closing its doors at the end of the season, Truex is looking to go out on a high note with a second straight title. Truex has four wins in 2018 — half of the eight he had last season — but won the title with his victory at Homestead in 2017 and has four career top-fives and eight top-10s at the track in 13 visits. But this isn’t last year’s No. 78 — which led 2,253 laps compared to just 996 this season — and Truex has, at times, seemed like a third wheel to the back and forth between Busch and Harvick.