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Harvick, Busch remain title favorites

Jeff Birchfield • Sep 11, 2018 at 4:40 PM

Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch remain the favorites to win this season's NASCAR Monster Cup Series championship as the “Big 3” has become the “Big 2.”

Defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. and the Furniture Row Racing team have faded in recent weeks as news of the team's plans to fold after the 2018 season has come to light.

Over those two weeks, Team Penske has stepped up with former series champion Brad Keselowski winning back-to-back races at Darlington and Indianapolis.

Still, the favorites have to be Harvick with a season-high seven wins and Busch with six.

Other than Harvick at Michigan, they haven't been dominating in recent weeks. However, they have good tracks coming up as Harvick won at Las Vegas in March and Busch prevailed at Richmond in April. The wild-card race is the ROVAL at Charlotte, where anyone could win.

Team Penske does seem to offer the biggest challenge to the two at the moment, given Keselowski's recent success and Joey Logano looking strong in recent weeks. The other driver who appears to have a shot is Chase Elliott.

While the Hendrick Motorsports organization has struggled, Elliott has shown great consistency. His 15th-place finish at Indianapolis snapped a streak of six straight top-10 finishes.

Kyle Larson has shown the performance, although he hasn't been able to get a win this season. Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer, teammates of Harvick, are in the next group of contenders, as is Erik Jones, a teammate of Kyle Busch.

Others simply haven't shown enough this season to be serious championship contenders.

NASCAR to Nashville

The possibility of a major NASCAR race returning to Nashville could soon become a reality.

Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith and Bristol Motor Speedway general manager Jerry Caldwell were in Nashville meeting with local officials Sunday and Monday. The Tennesseean has reported the last few weeks of previous meetings of bringing NASCAR back to the Fairgrounds Speedway.

Nashville mayor David Briley has publicly stated his support of a major NASCAR race returning to the fairgrounds, which is also scheduled to be the site of a new 35,000 Major League Soccer stadium.

It is a terrific market for NASCAR. The Music City has a rich history in the sport, including the Fairgrounds Speedway being the home track of drivers such as Darrell Waltrip, Sterling Marlin and the late Bobby Hamilton.

Known as Nashville Speedway, the track hosted 42 Cup Series races from 1958-84. Two-time NASCAR champion Joe Weatherly won the first Nashville race and Geoff Bodine won the final one in 1984.

Richard Petty won the most Nashville races with nine, followed by Darrell Waltrip, eight, and Cale Yarborough, seven.

Nashville Superspeedway, which is located in Gladeville, was sold in March. The 1.333-mile concrete track hosted both NASCAR Xfinity Series and IndyCar, with Harvick, Busch, Keselowski and Carl Edwards amongst the NASCAR winners. The property has been used by Nissan as a site for excess car storage in recent months, with no announced plans of major racing returning there.

Night at the Races

Kingsport Speedway has its season finale, a night of non-points racing for non-winners this season, scheduled for Friday night.

Five divisions are scheduled for the WQUT Night at the Races with a fireworks show after the racing concludes.

Hot Rods Are Coming

Hot Rod Drag Week is coming to Bristol Dragway on Thursday.

The event features a trip of 1,000 miles on public roads and five races at four drag strips over five days.

The event started at Atlanta Dragway on Monday, with races scheduled for Darlington Dragway, ZMax Dragway, Bristol and back to Atlanta on Friday.

Motocross action

Attracting riders from as far away as Ohio and Florida, Muddy Creek Raceway hosted the Mega and Ultra Series last weekend 

Brandon Sorah of Bluff City was the winner of the 25+ Amateur race and Brandon Belcher of Johnson City was runner-up in the Vet Expert (25+ Up) division.

Among the youth riders, Carson Eads of Kingsport raced his KTM to two wins and one runner-up finish. Eads finished ahead of Will Andrews of Hampton in the Super Mini 12-16 race.

Haden Gang of Piney Flats won the second moto and overall title in the Schoolboy 2 race and added a runner-up finish in the 250C race. Brock Ragan of Johnson City was runner-up among the youngest riders (51cc, 4-6).

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