Dominance knows no end, and success knows no conclusion. This season, three drivers have been the class of the field through 33 races. Yet, when it came to the races in the title run, only one had a checkered flag fall in their favor.
Were they losing steam, or was the competition catching up, realizing their time to pounce is now?
It could be a bit of both, but at some point one of the “Big Three” were going to find a way to dominate again, at the peak time of the year. On Sunday in the Lone Star State, one of those three not just had the speed, but had the power, to make moves others couldn’t.
When it mattered most, he pushed harder, drove in deeper, and cruised away to an eighth win on a banner season that even last year’s champion couldn’t match.
At the end of the night, we all knew where he came from, because “Happy Harvick” is now an eight-time winner in 2018, but this one the most important yet. He is officially joining Joey Logano in Homestead for a one-race throwdown to determine who hoists the Monster Energy Cup at season’s end.
Because of the rules in the League, surprisingly no one elected to go with Kevin Harvick this week, even with some eliminated from the competition. No one had a horrible weekend, however, as the gap to make it into the Championship four still has three spots remaining, with the cutoff being close between three different participants.
Here’s the updated playoff standings after the AAA Texas 500:
Penny Whitecotton – 4135 – Aric Almirola finished 8th (7) 57
Trisha Rodisch* – 4126 – Brad Keselowski finished 12th (7) 41
Misan Akuya – 4115 – Martin Truex Jr. finished 9th (4) 24
Sal Sigala Jr. – 4104 – Ryan Blaney finished 2nd (4) 24
Billy Fellin – 4102 – Ryan Blaney finished 2nd (5) 37
Ashley Hobbs – 4094 – Martin Truex Jr. finished 9th (5) 26
Dustin Parks – 2229 – Jimmie Johnson finished 15th (2)
Rob Tiongson – 2197 – Ryan Blaney finished 2nd (4)
Rob Blount – 2209 – NO PICK SENT (2)
*Locked into Championship 4 at Homestead
Next Race: One final opportunity remains to lock into that final round. It comes at the place since this format has been introduced has been the deciding event to lock in the final four that will throw down for a championship. But, this season, it’s a slightly different event than years prior.
Sure, the “Jewel in the Desert” is the host track. The track layout is the same…but it’s altered.
The second race in “NASCAR Goes West” saw this place with Harvick take home his third consecutive win, erasing the controversy from the week prior. He’s now locked into his title opportunity, but he’s going to a track that is familiar in one aspect, and unfamiliar in another. It’s the newly renamed ISM Raceway, and how a lap is run at this facility is completely different. Layout is the same, as the kink in one straightaway remains. But, that straightaway is no longer the backstretch. What was turns 1 and 2, now are 3 and 4. And the original location of the start/finish line has moved, meaning the action exiting the final corner will be more intense, and could leave someone unhappy at afternoon’s end.
Particiapants, the last race before the final reset is here. Those still competing, you need to follow the rules for a ninth time. But everyone, get those picks locked in by Thursday, November 8, at 10 p.m. ET for the Can-Am 500.
Due to Wednesday’s announcement of penalties assessed to Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, and Erik Jones, three of the participants have been handed the same penalties. No one picked Harvick nor Jones, however the picks for Blaney have been handed out.
As always, if the team elects to appeal and wins, the points will be returned.