Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, November 12, 2018, 11:55 a.m.
Perhaps more remarkable than anything else is that the four drivers who have advanced to the NASCAR Monster Cup championship final four are the ones who deserve to be there.
Given the format, this is a bit of a surprise. It would be hard to play poker with all the wild cards installed in the playoff deck.
Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick have each won eight races. Martin Truex Jr. is the reigning champion and has four wins. Joey Logano won his way into the finals.
In top-10 finishes, Harvick has 28, Busch 27, Logano 25 and Truex 20. In average finish, Busch is at 8.4, Harvick 9.0, Logano 10.9 and Truex 11.0.
The Final Four are the Big Three plus the most deserving fourth. Imagine if the Powerball was won by the actual person who needed it the most.
The Can-Am 500 in Avondale, Ariz., wasn’t tidy, though. Busch won. Logano wrecked. Harvick had to overcome misfortune. Truex limped home 14th.
In the closing stages, it seemed as if Kurt Busch had a shot to oust Harvick, and at the end, Aric Almirola found himself briefly in position to win.
It was a compelling path to the status quo.
The winner at ISM Raceway doesn’t think he’s the favorite next week in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I don’t, man, I don’t think so,” Busch said. “I don’t know how you could pick a favorite necessarily. Harvick has won there, we’ve won there, the ‘78 (Truex) has won there. You know, Harvick has beaten us all. I beat Harvick the year I won. Truex beat both of us last year. I think it’s just a matter of being able to go out there and race your race and do what you can with what you’ve got and have an opportunity to be able to be leading the race essentially on that last lap.”
“That’s what approximately it boils down to. Anything can happen in between, and we’ve seen it the last few years, kind of how crazy things can get with the Logano and Carl (Edwards) restart, with last year me having to run down Truex and not quite having enough to be able to pass him. Some other years it’s been kind of, maybe, anti-climactic, but I would predict this is the best four, the closest four that have been in our sport in a long time.”
Only Logano has not already won a championship. The other three finalists have been the champions of three of the past four years.
Against all odds and more than a few intentions, the final race is exactly what it ought to be if one accepts that it ought to be this way at all.
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