It’s no secret, the “Big 3” on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season have by and far been leaps and bounds better than everyone else. Heading into Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 (2:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), they’ve won 15 of the 20 races run in 2018. But, if you take out the three restrictor plate races run, they’re really won 15 of 17 races.
So, can anyone challenge them in this weekend’s race at the Pocono Raceway?
Trends say, yes.
Only four times since 1987 has someone swept both Pocono races in a single season. Truex, won back in June, so the odds are stacked against him winning Sunday’s race in his No. 78 Toyota. But, if someone were going to do so, it would be Truex as he finished sixth and third in Pocono last year too.
What about Kevin Harvick?
He’s never won at Pocono before but does have four runner-up finishes in his last eight Pocono starts. He never even led a lap at Pocono before joining Stewart-Haas Racing but has been dominant ever since. He led a race high 89 laps back in the spring but just didn’t get the job fully done.
Kyle Busch has one career Pocono win and that came in this very race last year. That was his first top five finish on the Tricky Triangle since 2011.
So, would you take one of these three to win again on Sunday? The odds of a sweep are low and Harvick and Busch have combined for just one Pocono victory ever. But, this is 2018 and I do think one of these three will win this weekend though.
Truex, has finished in the top four in every race with the exception of one since late April. Toyota has won every race minus two since the Coca Cola 600. He’s got as good as a shot as any. Plus, with the Toyota reasoning, you can’t count out Busch. He is the defending race winner and should have swept both races last year. He led 100 laps in the 2017 spring race but was doomed on his final pit stop. He finished third in June in his No. 18 Toyota and has six top five finishes over his last eight starts on the season.
Harvick, led the most laps in the spring and has six top five finishes in his last eight Pocono starts. All three finishes in the top four in June. Expect that to happen again on Sunday.
They finished in the top five in four of the last six races too.
Oh, there’s this also, going back to the start of last year’s playoffs, the trio have won 23 of the last 30 races (77-percent). In fact, here’s a telling stat, if you remove the four restrictor plate races run in that timeframe, they’ve won all but three races on non plate tracks (23-for-26). Two of those three races were won by Clint Bowyer. He won a snowy race at Martinsville in the spring and a rain shortened event at Michigan last month.
Go back even further if you may, so a full year ago to this race at New Hampshire last July. They’ve won 26 of the last 38 races. Only Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer have more than one win. Among the other six driver, four of which were on a restrictor plate race. Busch has won 10 times since last year’s race at New Hampshire, Truex nine and Harvick with seven trips to victory lane.
If you go back to the last 42 races, Joe Gibbs Racing has won 15 times, Stewart-Haas 10 and Furniture Row nine. Chip Ganassi Racing and Hendrick Motorsports (Indy) are the only teams to win a race on a non plate track in that time frame.