|The Busch brothers still alive in NASCAR Playoffs.|
This sets up for a fantastic finish in the NASCAR Playoffs!
Joey Logano won his first career race at Martinsville last week and got the automatic berth into the Nov. 18 Championship Race at Homestead. There's Texas this week and Phoenix the following week for the seven other eligible championship contenders to try and get an auto-berth by winning. If none of those drivers get a win in the next two weeks the final three slots will be awarded by points and the current leaders are Busch (4,104 pts) and then Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. are tied with 4,083 each.
“We have faced plenty of adversity in the playoffs so far but we’re still in it,” Truex said late race bad luck in the Playoffs at Charlotte, Dover, and last week at Martinsville. “We should have been in Victory Lane at both Charlotte and Martinsville and have a secured transfer spot for the championship round at Homestead.
“Our guys at the track and at the shop are giving everything they have. They all want that championship as bad as I do. None of us are quitting because the team is shutting down at the end of the season. We all have one mission and that’s to successfully defend our championship.”
Back-to-back championships for Truex as the team is shutting down would be an incredible feat. Harvick is looking for his second Cup title as well.
“There’s a lot of respect amongst the three teams, but we all want to beat each other," Harvick said of the Big-3 leading in points vying for those final three Championship Race slots. "Ultimately, that’s why we’re here. We want to win and I feel like that same passion lives in those garage stalls next to us and they like you, but they want to beat you. And a lot of times, you do whatever you have to do for your team to go out and do that and that’s what makes it fun. But there’s also a lot of respect there. In the end, we all want to beat each other, but it has been a lot of fun racing with those guys.”
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBookadjusted its championship odds on Monday and have Busch the 9/5 favorite followed by Logano at 11/4, Harvick at 5/2, and Truex at 9/2.
After that its Chase Elliott at 12/1, Las Vegan Kurt Busch at 25/1, Clint Bowyer at 30/1, and Aric Almirola, who is currently last in points (4.033), at 40/1 odds. Among those last four drivers, Elliott offers the best opportunity to win at Texas this week.
Elliott, who sits sixth in points (4,052), won the last race on a 1.5-mile track at Kansas two weeks ago. He finished 11th at Texas in April which was his worst finish there in five Cup starts. He's showing a lot more speed in the past two months everywhere and also happens to be the active leader at Texas with a 7.4 average finish. He also has a 2014 Xfinity Series win at Texas.
"I don't think there's one moment that I can say was the turnaround," Elliott's crew chief Alan Gustafson said of the No. 9 teams surge. "It's been coming and coming because of hard work. We've got an amazing group of people that work at Hendrick Motorsports. Certainly, great resources, a great boss. If we get an opportunity we can make some things happen. With Texas, we haven’t been good since they reconfigured it, but the result at Kansas certainly makes me feel a little better."
After no Cup wins in 2.5 seasons, Elliott now has two wins in the last 12 races, the last coming at Kansas which applies well here despite Texas being banked much steeper making it faster.
Brad Keselowski was chopped from the Playoffs in the last round, but his win at Las Vegas to kick off the postseason on Sept. 16 should serve as a major indicator that he can win this week because its banking is steeper and closer to Texas than recent races on 1.5s at Kentucky (July 14) and Kansas. He led 38 laps at Kentucky and finished third and led 26 laps at Kansas finishing sixth. Only Truex has been better in those last three races.
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