What do you do when you want to eliminate threats to winning a championship? You go out and win races, that’s what.
Kyle Larson has won both of the first two races in this round and has out the other drivers vying for a title on notice.
You want to have the chance to beat him and win a title, you better start winning races. And by the way, there is only one race left to do that.
Larson dominated the Kansas race by leading 130 laps and winning Stage 1 and P3 in Stage 2. For a while it looked like another non-contender could win as William Byron led 57 laps and won Stage 2. He ended up finishing P6 but ran a strong enough race to put others on notice that he isn’t going to just melt away as the top 8 drivers battle to Phoenix.
Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch (4 laps led) also put on a good show and threatened to upset the apple cart for the title hopefuls.
Next up: Martinsville
The past 6 winners at Martinsville: Martin Truex, Jr. (3), Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.
The battle plan right now is win at Martinsville and you are in. Joey Logano led 22 laps at Kansas but had issues and sits 26 points behind the cut off. He has won at Martinsville before and we all know Joey cuts no one any slack on track and Martinsville is a tough track to pass at. But 26 points is a lot to overcome even with what will probably be a top 12 starting position.
Brad Keselowski can’t afford another Top 15 race. He wrecked out late in the spring race and he seems to be around bad luck this year. Brad needs a win or everyone else to wreck out early in the race.
Martinsville has been good to MTJ recently so in spite of his struggles he has a good chance to win or place Top 5. That will be the only opportunity to advance for him.
Ryan Blaney was soooo close at Kansas. He finished 11th in the spring Phoenix race and he may not advance if he pulls that again. He does need to beat Kyle Busch though. In the last 6 Phoenix starts, he is the third ranked driver in the field.
Kyle Busch managed to stay on track after a few brushes with the wall and in spite of him imploding inside of his car. He benefitted greatly from Ryan Blaney leaving the race. Rowdy needs to finish Top 5 at least in order to move on – and he needs to keep his head in the game. His poor finish at Kansas may affect his starting position at Phoenix. If he can keep his right fronts from blowing, he has a shot.
Denny Hamlin hasn’t won here recently and doesn’t need to. What he needs to do is stay out of trouble and finish Top 5, then he’ll advance. Heck, being 32 points to the good, a Top 10 MIGHT even be enough.
Chase Elliott has a Phoenix win and still has speed but it seems to come too late in the race for him to close it out. He led 42 laps at Kansas and should benefit from a Top 4 starting spot if he can keep up with Larson. Depending on how the others finish, he could make it in with a Top 10 – but a Top 5 would be better.
Kyle Larson. Historically not the best driver on short tracks. This season, his wins have come at Las Vegas, Charlotte, Sonoma, Texas, Nashville, Watkins Glen, Bristol, Charlotte Road Course and Kansas. Plus a 5th at Martinsville this spring shows he can compete on the short tracks. If he wins again, look out folks.
Good on ya, mate.
- We’ve already covered a lot of the Top 10 but let’s give a shout out to Christopher Bell (P9) who is still fighting hard.
- Austin Dillon (P10) for working hard to finish strong. He’ll need some good luck to finish this high at Martinsville.
- Bubba Wallace (P14) for a decent finish.
- Daniel Suarez (P15) for the same.
- Michael McDowell (P16) has become the forgotten winner but this wasn’t a bad race for him. The spring Martinsville race was.
- Parker Kligerman (P20) is working hard to get back into a ride, this was a good showcase race for him.
So you had a bad day
- Ryan Blaney (P37) needs a lot more at Martinsville. Penske has had speed this year but he needs a BIG finish.
- Kyle Busch (P28) is his own worst enemy at times and he is lucky to be where he is right now.
- Aric Almirola (P26) is another forgotten winner. He is back to his old tricks right now which means they can’t get out of their own way.
- Tyler Reddick (P22) should run better at Martinsville. This was a disappointing race for as well as he has been running.
Drive fast, turn left and keep the shiny side up! Leave your thoughts and comments below!
(Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)