Luckily, the “Big 3” of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. accumulated a ton of playoff points in the regular season or they’d be sweating it out this weekend at the Talladega Superspeedway. Neither of the three came away with a top five finish in last Sunday’s race at the Dover International Speedway and in all honesty, have looked just pedestrian over the last seven races. Harvick and Busch have just one top five finish each all playoffs. Truex, has two. Truex, ranks fifth among the 12 playoff drivers in average finishing position in the playoffs alone at 11.67. Busch, ranks seventh (12.0) while Harvick is 10th (14.0).
Over the last seven races, Harvick ranks seventh in terms of average finishing position among the 12 remaining playoff drivers with a 10.57 average finishing spot. Busch, is eighth at 11.86. Truex, well he’s down to 10th (16.57). But, in terms of the four playoff races, Truex has looked the best among all three with leading the most laps out of anyone in the first round and being in the top top five heading towards the second to last restart at Dover.
The problem is, none of the three have had the cars to close the race as mistakes have taken them out of contention. Harvick cut a tire in Vegas and had a valve stem break in Dover. He didn’t have a good car at all on the ROVAL.
Truex, had an uncontrolled tire at both Richmond and Dover, was crashed by Jimmie Johnson while leading on the final lap on the ROVAL and was beat on pit strategy at the end in Vegas.
Busch, well he was off at Dover and also had a pit road speeding penalty, then was off at Vegas and even spun late in the race and crashed on the ROVAL. While Truex and Harvick have had faster cars, Busch does have a win but hasn’t had the cars to contend.
It doesn’t sound like these three are capable of winning the championship right now. Luckily, they have all those playoff points. Harvick and Busch sit over 60 points ahead of the cutoff line heading to Talladega and Truex is over 30 points up himself.
At Talladega, Busch finished 13th in the spring race and was 25th and 33rd respectively this year at Daytona. His last three Talladega fall race finishes?
40th, 11th and 30th respectively. Good thing he doesn’t have to really worry this weekend or he could be on the outside looking in.
What about Truex?
He finished 26th in the spring race at Talladega and his last four fall race finishes on the 2.66-mile track are 27th, seventh, 40th, and 23rd respectively.
Harvick, was 31st, fourth and 19th this year on plate tracks and doesn’t consider Talladega one of his favorites.
While they have points to their favor, what about Kyle Larson? His 9.29 average ranks third among the 12 playoff drivers over the last seven races. But, his car was surprisingly off last Sunday in Dover and he hasn’t fared well on plate tracks lately either. In the three points paying plate races this season, Larson has finishes of 19th, 40th and 29th respectively. In the four races in 2017, he came home 12th, 12th, 29th and 13th respectively. With him being 12 points behind the final cutoff spot right now, a finish outside of the top 10 could be detrimental to his chances of advancing to the Round of 8.
Remember last year at Kansas when Larson’s engine blew early in the first stage? Well, if he’s on the outside looking in or barely in leaving Talladega, he can’t afford to have what happened to him at Kansas last year to occur again.
That’s why these four drivers aren’t likely picks to win on Sunday.
In terms of the Championship 4, Joey Logano has the best average finishing position over the last seven races (7.14). He has the top average finish in the playoffs too (7.75). He also has four top four finishes in that seven race span. Chase Elliott’s average finish is 10th and he just won last weekend. He also has three straight top six finishes on the year and five in a seven race span.
Kurt Busch’s average finish is 8.86, which ranks him second. He has two straight fifth place finishes on the year and 10 top 10’s over his last 12 starts in general. In the spring race at Talladega, these three drivers finished 1-2-3.
Keselowski won the fall race at Talladega last year and has a 10.43 average finish over his last seven starts. Among that span comes three wins. He’s a five time Talladega race winner overall.
Don’t bet against the hot hands on Sunday.