Takeaways from Kentucky: What if we just fast-forward to Homestead?
Welcome to our weekly post-race column of fire takes. Let’s see what’s in store this week after Saturday’s race at Kentucky.
• It’s going to be a major upset if one of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick or Martin Truex Jr. doesn’t win the 2018 Cup Series championship. So why don’t we just skip ahead to the Nov. 19 title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and settle the championship?
OK, it’s a ludicrous thought. No one knows how to time travel. But we’re quickly getting to the point where something will have gone incredibly wrong for the three aforementioned drivers to not be racing for the championship.
[Truex gets fourth win of the season at Kentucky]
Truex’s win on Saturday night marked the 14th time in 19 races that either he, Busch or Harvick had won a race this season. The three of them have also won all of the races contested on 1.5-mile tracks in 2018. Five of 10 races in the playoffs are at 1.5-mile tracks including Homestead.
Again, you want to bet against a driver other than the three of them winning the title? Here’s what the playoff point breakdown looks like with seven races to go in the regular season.
1. Kyle Busch, 30
2. Kevin Harvick, 27
3. Martin Truex Jr., 25
4. Clint Bowyer, 10
5. Joey Logano, 7
6. Austin Dillon, 5
7. Erik Jones, 5
8. Brad Keselowski, 4
8. Ryan Blaney, 4
With the addition of carryover points in NASCAR’s playoff format, the rest of the season between now and November feels like a formality. All that’s left — we think — is to determine who will challenge the top three at Homestead. Will it be Bowyer? Jones? Logano? Keselowski?
• Keselowski and Kurt Busch were the only ones that really challenged Truex throughout Saturday night’s race and that was because they tried some two-tire pit stop strategy.
“I really enjoyed the way [crew chief] Billy Scott called the race because our lap times were really strong on the super-long runs, and that’s why he left me out there in Stage 1. We didn’t get points, but it put us in good position for Stage 2 and then we were ahead of the game to make a call again. It just kept us ahead the whole night. Even though we didn’t have the fastest car, we led a lot of laps tonight and it was fun to have the Monster Energy Ford out front.”
• It’s hard not to wonder if Kentucky Speedway will have a Cup Series race much longer. Look at this crowd for Saturday night’s race.
What’s the redeeming quality of Kentucky if it doesn’t have capacity crowds? Located between Louisville and Cincinnati, the track isn’t near a major metropolitan area. Traffic is terrible when crowds are good. It’s yet another 1.5-mile track on a schedule that has a few too many races on 1.5-mile tracks.
NASCAR’s sanctioning agreement with tracks expires after the 2019 season and it reasons there will be major changes starting in 2020. Will Kentucky be one of those changes? We wouldn’t bet on it. But we wouldn’t bet against it either.
• When you count the backmarker bankrupt BK Racing there are six Toyota cars that compete full-time in NASCAR. Toyotas have now won 10 of the first 19 races of the season. Truex and Busch are responsible for nine of those wins, of course, but it’s still an impressive stat.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
Follow @NickBromberg on Twitter
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