Entering Sunday’s green flag, the focus was on the entire No. 4 organization. The three-race winning streak of Kevin Harvick was all the talk of the garage. Could it continue…could he dominate or would it be hard-earned…could it come to an end?
The latter question took only 39 laps to answer, because it was Harvick himself that cost the team the victory.
But then the question soon became could someone else be as dominant as this team had been? Sure enough, one team decided to prove they still knew how to dominate. After all, they dominated the entire 2017 campaign on their way to a championship.
The thing this year was through four races, the No. 78 not only didn’t win a race, but also didn’t win a stage.
All they needed was an opportunity to find a way to show they could return to their form from a season ago. Last year in Las Vegas was the beginning, winning all three stages. Harvick already accomplished that feat at the same track, but Martin Truex Jr. was out to show he still knew how to achieve the same feat. Stage 1…victory. Stage 2…victory.
Then in Stage 3…not only was it victory, it was a pulling-away victory. Over 11 seconds to the closest competition; there was no doubt that Truex is back, and officially has his opportunity to defend his championship.
Did Truex’s dominance do anything for the League? Unfortunately, no. But Harvick’s misfortune did do something big, because the leaders of the pack now suddenly fell like a concrete block.
Here’s the updated standings, including a new leader, after the Auto Club 400:
Ashley Hobbs – 211 – Kyle Busch finished 3rd (2) 11
Sal Sigala Jr. – 201 – Brad Keselowski finished 4th (1) 6
Rob Tiongson – 193 – Kyle Larson finished 2nd (1) 5
Misan Akuya – 177 – Kevin Harvick finished 35th (2) 11
Rob Blount – 175 – Kevin Harvick finished 35th (1) 5
Penny Whitecotton – 161 – Kevin Harvick finished 35th (3) 11
Dustin Parks – 158 – Jimmie Johnson finished 9th (0) 0
Ashley Hull – 152 – NO PICK SENT (1) 6
Trisha Rodisch – 132 – Kevin Harvick finished 35th (2) 6
Billy Fellin – 125 – Kevin harvick finished 35th (1) 5
Klarissa Mitchell – 100 – Kyle Larson finished 2nd (0) 0
Next Race: The time on the west coast for NASCAR has seen three different styles of track, each with results that were good for some, but bad for others. However, there was one style that has yet to be looked at for the 2018 campaign. But, that will change come next Sunday.
The next run for the season before the sport takes a break is a stop in Virginia, at the shortest track on the season. Two drag strips with tight corners, where pit road antics seem to be the norm every time. It’s a track where the most famous food is a hot dog, and the trophy is as big as the winner.
Welcome to the “Paper Clip” in Martinsville, where the newest thing that got used a season ago was the lights during the playoffs.
It’s the final race before the Easter Break, and everyone wants to brag for a couple weeks that they won. So, lock in those picks for the STP 500 by Thursday, March 22, at 10 p.m. ET