- Target Remains On “The Big Three” As Playoffs Get Set To Return To Texas Motor Speedway For AAA Texas 500 On Sunday, Nov. 4
- Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round Of 8 Begins Sunday At Martinsville Speedway
This is the sixth feature/video vignette of a weekly series that will appear each Thursday that focuses on contenders in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. The series will run up to the AAA Texas 500, the middle race of the Round of 8, set for Sunday, Nov. 4, at Texas Motor Speedway.
FORT WORTH, Texas (October 25, 2018) – With 18 combined victories, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have earned “The Big Three” moniker that has hovered over their heads for much of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
And with three races remaining before the Championship 4 race, all three drivers are still in very good shape to vie for the series title in the Nov. 18 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The trio advanced into the Round of 8, which begins with the opening race Sunday at Martinsville Speedway (1 p.m. CT, TV: NBCSN; Radio: SiriusXM, MRN). The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs will then make a stop at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 4, for the AAA Texas 500, where Harvick is the defending champion.
The AAA Texas 500 is set for a 2 p.m. CT start and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network as well as PRN, SiriusXM Radio and 95.9 FM The Ranch locally.
“When you get to this portion of the year, you know everybody’s kind of caught up and really bringing their best stuff to the race track and an accumulation of notes throughout the year of things that work, of things that didn’t work,” Harvick said. “As you get to the race track this time of year, it’s a different type of competition than what it was at the beginning of the year because you have so many more cars that are running well.
“I think as you get into the playoffs, I mean there’s people that are willing to take more risks, more chances to try and put themselves in positions, or needing to put themselves in positions to try and advance to the next round.”
Joining “The Big Three” in the Round of 8 are Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola. Elliott and Almirola earned their berths in the Round of 8 with wins in the Round of 12 – Elliott actually won twice – while the other five advanced based on their Playoff points.
Kyle Busch (4,055 points), Harvick (4,054) and Truex Jr. (4,038) sit atop the Round of 8 standings going into Sunday’s race at Martinsville, with Truex Jr. sitting 20 points clear of fourth-place Elliott.
“It’s great that they have an advantage, and they’ve earned it,” said Logano, who twice has competed in the Championship 4 race at Homestead. “But at the same time, nobody’s ever out of it. You don’t know what the Championship 4 is going to look like in Miami. It could be something completely different from what you’re thinking it is right now. Something can happen, it could happen (at Texas Motor Speedway).”
“It’s difficult, and that’s why getting those playoff points, when you can get them throughout the year, is so nice to have,” said Elliott, who entered the postseason with eight playoff points, but has since added another 10 to his total thanks to Playoff victories at Dover International Speedway and Kansas Speedway.
WAYS PLAYOFF POINTS CAN BE EARNED
- Win Stage 1 or Stage 2 in a race: 1 playoff point (point awarded per stage win)
- Win a race: 5 playoff points
- Win the regular-season championship: 15 playoff points
Should “The Big Three” advance to the Championship 4 finale, Logano and Elliott might be the best bets to join them there. Elliott has won three of the last 11 races, a stretch that has seen Harvick and Busch win only once each while Truex Jr. has just five top-five performances since his last win back on July 14. Logano hasn’t visited Victory Lane since his win at Talladega Superspeedway at the end of April, but has been one of the series’ most consistent drivers over the last three months.
And then there’s Bowyer, who will go for a season sweep at Martinsville this weekend; Kurt Busch, who has previous wins at all the Round of 8 venues (Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix); and Almirola, who still is riding the momentum of a win two weeks ago at Talladega in the Round of 12.
A win this weekend in Virginia by any of those five other drivers puts the pressure back on “The Big Three” as the playoffs head to Texas Motor Speedway.
“Obviously there’s a lot of teams that are gunning for us, but more importantly everybody is gunning to be the top guy,” said Kyle Busch, winner of April’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at TMS. “It’s going to be hard for anyone to become the dominant force throughout these playoffs.”
The AAA Texas 500 headlines a NASCAR Playoffs tripleheader weekend that also includes the Camping World Truck Series JAG Metals 350 on Friday, Nov. 2, and the Xfinity Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 on Saturday, Nov. 3. For more information, please visit http://www.texasmotorspeedway.com.