Best teams make it to NASCAR's Final Four

Jeff Birchfield • Nov 13, 2018 at 7:32 PM

It rarely works out, whether it's NASCAR or the NCAA basketball tournament, that the four best teams reach the final four.

This weekend, NASCAR’s four best performing teams throughout the season will contend for the Monster Energy Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. make up the "Big 3," the drivers who combined to win 20 of 35 races this season. They are joined by Joey Logano, who has two wins — but ranks third behind Harvick and Busch in both top-10 finishes and average finishes for this season.

Going into the race in which the best driver of the four will win the title, Harvick has to be a slight favorite over Busch — although we will explore the reasons why any of the four could end up as champion.


Why he will win the championship.

In the prime of his career, the 33-year-old Las Vegas native is considered the best driver currently in the sport. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota comes into the championship race with plenty of momentum as the series' most recent winner at Phoenix.

Historically, Busch has been as good as anyone stringing together back-to-back wins. With his 51st career win Sunday, Busch passed NASCAR Hall of Famers Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett on the Cup Series all-time win list.

Why he won't win the championship.

Busch is tied with Harvick for eight wins this season, but only two of those have come on the 1 1/2-mile tracks (Homestead’s length). Busch won early in the season at Texas and won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Last season, he was in a position to win at Homestead, but couldn't hold off the faster car of Truex in the closing laps.


Why he will win the championship.

Harvick has been the dominant driver on the intermediate tracks this season with five of his eight wins coming on the 1 1/2-mile and 2-mile speedways. It includes the most recent race at Texas, where Harvick led 177 of the 337 laps. He also has the best record of the four at Homestead with 15 top-10 finishes in 17 starts.

Why he won't win the championship.

Harvick's team was penalized for an illegally mounted spoiler at Texas. While they dispute it gave the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford much of an advantage, NASCAR obviously thought otherwise with the severity of the penalty. Of the four, Harvick also has the biggest target on his back with his performance throughout the season.


Why he will win the championship.

Truex is also the defending race and series champion and his Furniture Row team has the extra motivation of going out with a blaze of glory after the news the team is shutting down at the end of the season. The No. 78 Toyota has been very good on the intermediate tracks, including a dominant performance at Kentucky — where he led 174 of 267 laps.

Why he won't win the championship.

The last win for Truex was that Kentucky race back in July. He was in position to win at Martinsville before Logano bumped past him on the final lap and also in position to win on Charlotte's ROVAL before being hit by Jimmie Johnson. While having a good season, Truex hasn't consistently shown the speed of Busch or Harvick.


Why he will win the championship.

Logano proved with the Martinsville finish that he is willing to do whatever it takes to put the No. 22 Team Penske Ford up front. He also had posted five straight top-10 finishes before crashing out of Sunday's race. Logano has made the championship race three of the five seasons, but he has the extra motivation as the only one of the four yet to win a championship.

Why he won't win the championship.

Logano hasn't shown the speed of the other three most of the season, and definitely hasn't performed up to the other's standards at the intermediate tracks. Logano's two wins have come at the restrictor-plate track at Talladega and the short track of Martinsville. There is also the guarantee by Truex after the Martinsville finish that no way Logano will win the championship.

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