The Championship 4 is now set for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski will vie for a chance to win the 2017 championship this weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. With that being said, one driver said that he has no pressure heading to South Florida this weekend for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (2:30 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN) and that the pressure is on the two Toyota drivers.
“Three of us have won championships, and Martin (Truex Jr.) has won a lot of races this year,” Kevin Harvick said after the Round of 8 finale at Phoenix last Sunday. “The pressure is really on the 78 (Truex) and the 18 (Kyle Busch). Those guys have dominated the year, and I feel like if they don’t win at this point, they would probably feel like they’ve had a letdown. It’s a lot of fun coming from behind and playing catch-up and kind of playing that underdog role is much easier than being expected to go down there and win. We expect to win.”
Harvick is right in a sense. He has nothing to lose. He only won two races all season and is playing with virtually house money. His Stewart-Haas Racing team has flown under the radar all season but peaking at the right time. In fact, I would say despite what everyone else has done this year, he’s the favorite this weekend.
Harvick, led over 100 laps at Charlotte in the playoffs, won both stages and finished third on the 1.5-mile track. Then, two weeks ago at Texas, another 1.5-mile track, Harvick won for the first time of his career there and beat Truex head-to-head in the final laps. Last weekend at Phoenix, he quietly brought his No. 4 Ford home in fifth place. Now, he heads to Homestead, a track where he’s finished in the top 10 in 14 of his 15 tries, including three straight top three finishes with a chance for his second championship in four years.
But, no one is talking about that because everyone feels like Truex and Busch deserve the title.
Truex and Busch have combined to win 12 races and lead 4,155 laps this season. Harvick has two wins and 850 laps led to his credit. Truex, has had 25 top 10 finishes and 18 top fives himself. He’s by far been the most dominant car over the course of all 35 weeks and has seen six of his seven wins in 2017 comes on 1.5-mile tracks.
Busch, is next best with all five wins coming over the last 15 races on the season. He’s led a lap in every race but two since July. He has 21 top 10 finishes in his No. 18 Toyota. He too has made three Championship 4 appearances.
With Toyota’s speed, they do have a championship to lose situation this weekend at Homestead. That’s all Harvick was saying and he’s also saying that look at what he’s done the last few weeks and how he has no pressure.
When told of Harvick’s comments, Truex deflected it.
“That sounds like Harvick,” Truex said. “I don’t know, but it doesn’t work on me. If I’m the favorite, perfect, I like that. I think it’s a better position to be in. I was the underdog before and I finished fourth, so yeah, bring it on.
“I don’t think it’s any extra pressure at all. I mean, I think it’s — I have a lot of respect for all three of these guys. Two of them were in the Final Four when I made it in 2015. Definitely have a little bit of experience in this position, but you know, honestly just excited about the opportunity. I feel like we’re in a whole lot better spot as a team than we were the first time we had a shot at it, and we’re going to go out there and just do the best job we can do.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our team right now and what we’re doing, and I think today was a perfect example of that for us, so just keep doing what we’re doing, go down to Miami and just have fun and do what we know how to do. Do the best job we possibly can and hopefully come out on top.”