|Kyle Busch has three Cup wins at Texas.|
And fight it isn’t just a loose term thrown out there. Two championship contenders went after it last week at Martinsville, or at least their crews did. Joey Logano wasn’t happy with the way Denny Hamlin pinned his car to the wall last week. He talked with Hamlin after the race and it looked civil at first, but as Logano was about to leave the conversation, he shoved Hamlin and then walked away, and then it was on.
Logano still ended up finishing eighth so the big question is whether or not he thinks he needs to retaliate at Texas or Phoenix in an attempt to end Hamlin’s championship hopes the way Matt Kenseth did to Logano in 2015. The way I see it is that Hamlin still owes Logano a few more paybacks in a rivalry that includes spinning Hamlin at 200 mph at Fontana in 2013 that resulted in Hamlin hitting the wall hard and breaking his back. He missed four races because of it.
It would be a shame if Logano tries to damage Hamlin’s championship run, and it’s not only because I’m holding a 25/1 futures ticket on him to win the title. It’s because Hamlin is having the season of his career with a 9.2 average finish and a series-leading 18 top-fives. He comes into Texas confident after winning there in the March race, his third Texas win.
“It would certainly help, clinching a spot to move on and not have to worry about it in Phoenix,” Hamlin said. “We’re all going to work as hard as we can to prepare and position ourselves to end up in Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway.”
The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has Hamlin listed at 7/1 odds along with four other drivers with Kyle Busch and Truex co-favorites at 5/1 odds.
With a win, Hamlin would become the only driver to ever sweep a season at Texas, twice. Jimmie Johnson (2015), Carl Edwards (2008), and Hamlin (2010) are the only three to sweep Texas.
A good reason to support a Hamlin wager this week is that he has three wins in the 16 races using this week’s race package with cars having aero ducts and engines producing 550 horsepower. No other driver has more with it. The last race using it was also the last race on a 1.5-mile track at Kansas two weeks ago and Hamlin won.
Another driver not a Logano fan is Kevin Harvick, who is also listed at 7/1 odds to win and the reason to support him begins with it being the playoffs and Harvick currently outside looking in while sitting fifth in points. Of all the clutch moments in the playoffs I can remember, it seems like they’re all Harvick wins.
“Clutch moments – there’s nothing like them,” Harvick said. “It’s one thing to dominate a race all day and win – that’s great. But, making a last-lap pass, an end-of-the-race pass or winning on a day when you’re not supposed to, there is just no better feeling than getting out of the car and looking at those guys. Having the rest of the field asking how was he able to win today.
“Those are the types of moments that I love to be a part of. We’ve been fortunate to experience a lot of those. That’s the adrenaline rush that comes with what we do. There is no better feeling than those particular moments.”
Two of those moments came the last two playoff races at Texas. Harvick won them both, the first two wins at Texas of his career which helped him qualify for his third and fourth Championship 4 in five chances, the first of which he won his lone Cup Championship in 2014. He’s currently on a run of 10 straight top-10s at Texas, which also includes three runner-ups.
Harvick was eighth in the Texas spring race, but his team hasn’t gotten much better with this particular race package since August. He’s won at Michigan and Indianapolis with it and was also runner-up with it at Las Vegas.
This particular round seems like it was almost hand crafted for Harvick because of his amazing active streak at Texas and also being the all-time leader at Phoenix nine wins. If he doesn’t win Sunday, he’s a good bet to win at Phoenix next week as the favorite.