Kyle Larson

Denny Hamlin grabs Homestead pole, Martin Truex Jr. also on front row

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Denny Hamlin was last to make a final qualifying run but took the pole for Sunday’s and championship-deciding Ford EcoBoost 400.

Hamlin (173.980 mph) knocked Martin Truex Jr. (173.952) off the pole with a bonsai run around the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“Love this racetrack, wish we would have a chance, but it’ll be another day and another year for us,” Hamlin told NBCSN. “I want to win, that’s all I care about.”

This is Hamlin’s second pole of his career (and second in the last three races) at Homestead, where he’s also a two-time Cup winner.

Truex is the highest qualifying driver of the four Championship 4 contestants.

“It was a good day overall,” Truex told NBCSN. “Hopefully, we’ll just make some minor adjustments (in Saturday’s two practice sessions) and get comfortable and get ready to race on Sunday.”

The other drivers are: Kyle Busch (qualified third, 173.930), Brad Keselowski (fifth, 172.452) and Kevin Harvick was the slowest of the four (ninth, 171.876).

“Not a bad lap, definitely was pole-worthy, so I hate that we weren’t able to get the No. 1 pit stall,” Busch told NBCSN. “I think we’re further ahead than we were 2015 when we won the whole thing.”

Keselowski told NBCSN: “It sure doesn’t feel bad, but there’s a long way to go. It’s just one day of a three-day weekend. … This is like a poker game. This is the deal, it’s qualifying. Tomorrow you start to see the turn of the cards with race trim. We’re not in a bad spot, not where we want to be, we still need a little speed obviously to run with the Toyotas, but we’re kind of first in class (among Ford teams) today.”

Harvick said to NBCSN: “Not exactly how I wanted it to go, but all-in-all I think we’re going to be fine. It’s not like we’re starting 39th or something.”

In addition to Hamlin, non-championship drivers that qualified in the top 12 include Matt Kenseth (fourth, 172.678), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (sixth, 172.359), Kyle Larson (seventh, 172.205), Kurt Busch (eighth, 172.106), Daniel Suarez (10th, 171.789), Ryan Blaney (11th, 171.255) and Trevor Bayne (12th, 171.124).

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start last because of an engine change in practice Friday. … Danica Patrick, who announced she will race next year in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 before retiring, qualified 25th. … Sunday’s race will have 39 cars in the field.

Click here for qualifying results.

Kyle Busch fastest in first Cup practice in Miami

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Championship 4 driver Kyle Busch was fastest in the first Cup Series practice for the Ford EcoBoost 400.

Busch posted a top speed of 172.695 mph around Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver led Martin Truex Jr. (172.529), Kevin Harvick (171.865), Kyle Larson (171.217) and Denny Hamlin (170.854).

Truex and Harvick are among the Championship 4.

The fourth driver of the group, Brad Keselowski, was 21st fastest at 168.919 mph.

None of the championship drivers made more than seven laps in the session.

Larson had the best 10-lap average at 165.012 mph.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is making his last Cup start, was 14th fastest. Earnhardt will go to a backup engine after burning a piston early.

Matt Kenseth was 12th fastest.

Click here for the practice report.

Homestead-Miami primer: Everything you need to know about race, track

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Here’s the final Cup primer of the season, covering all that’s on tap for this weekend, season highlights and information about Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Miami Highlights

  • The last seven Miami races were won by seven different drivers
  • The last three Miami races were won by drivers getting their first win at Miami
  • The last six Miami races were won by drivers from three organizations: Hendrick Motorsports, Joe 
Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing
  • Jimmie Johnson won at Miami in 2016; he led only the final three laps
  • Ford has seven Miami wins but has not won there since Carl Edwards won for Roush Fenway Racing in 
2010 (Edwards tied for the championship in 2011, but Tony Stewart and Chevrolet won the title by wins)
  • 13 of the last 14 Miami races had at least seven cautions
  • The last three Miami races had a final green flag stretch of seven laps or less
  • Three Miami races had an overtime finish: 2004, 2006 and 2016
  • Miami is one of two active tracks where Team Penske is winless, the other is Indianapolis
  • There were eight DNFs at Miami in 2016 all eight were for accident, it was the most DNFs for accident 
in one race at Miami
  • The driver who led the most laps failed to win the last six races at Miami
  • There were 18 or more lead changes in the last eight Miami races, 20 in 2016
  • 12 of 18 Miami races were won from a top-10 start position
  • Jimmie Johnson won from a 14th place start position in 2016 the worst start by a Miami winner in the 
last four races (Johnson started in the race in the rear after unapproved impound adjustments)
  • Bobby Labonte passed Bill Elliott on the last lap of the 2003 race in Miami, the only last lap pass ever at 
the track (Labonte led only one lap in the entire race)
  • The final lead change was in the last eight laps in the last three Miami races (every race in the 
elimination format)
  • In the three years of the elimination format (since 2014), the driver who won the Championship also 
won the race
  • Four times the driver who won at Miami also won the Championship: 2011, 2014-2016
  • This will be the first time a Chevrolet has not made the Championship four at Miami
  • 10 of 13 Miami Playoff races were won by playoff drivers
  • Two of the four Championship drivers have won at Miami: Kevin Harvick 2014 and Kyle Busch 2015
  • This will be the first appearance in the Championship four for Brad Keselowski, Keselowski won the 
Championship in 2012 prior to the introduction of the elimination format
  • The pass for the win came in the final eight laps in all three races at Homestead under the elimination 
format
  • Jimmie Johnson was the best running of the four playoff drivers for only seven laps last year
  • All four playoff drivers had a significant issue in the race in 2016, three of the four finishes in the top-six

2017 Season highlights

  • Joe Gibbs Racing (8), Furniture Row (5) and Chip Ganassi Racing (2) won 15 of the last 18 races
  • The pole winner has won six times in 2017: Kyle Larson ACS, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Talladega-1, Kyle 
Larson MIS-1, Kyle Busch POC-2, Kyle Busch NH-2, Martin Truex Jr. KS-2
  • The final lead change came in the last 10 laps in 20 of 35 races in 2017, the final three laps in 13 races 
and on the last lap in four races
  • The pass for the win came in the final 10 laps in five of the last seven races of 2017
  • Either Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Busch won a stage in 23 of 35 races in 2017
  • Martin Truex Jr. has won at least one stage in 14 of 35 races in 2017 but has not won a stage in the last 
seven races which is his longest stretch of races without a stage win in 2017
  • Martin Truex Jr. is the only driver to win both Stage 1 and 2 and go on to win the race (Las Vegas, Kentucky)
  • Five drivers have won a race but have not won a stage in 2017
  • Three drivers have won a stage but have not won a race in 2017
  • Atlanta, Pocono-1, Michigan-2 Chicagoland and Phoenix-2 are the only races without a caution before 
the end of stage 1
  • Atlanta, Michigan-2 and Chicagoland are the only races to not have a caution other than stage 
breaks in the first two stages of the race
  • Three Cautions at Watkins Glen the fewest in a race in 2017
  • 15 cautions at Kansas-1 and Dover-1 are the most in a race in 2017
  • Three times a driver has won after going to the rear: Jimmie Johnson Texas-1 (unapproved tire 
change), Joey Logano Richmond-1 (transmission change), Jimmie Johnson Dover-1 (rear gear change)
  • Denny Hamlin won in New Hampshire-1 after going to a backup car prior to qualifying
  • Three times in 2017 a driver has gone on to win after a speeding penalty: Kurt Busch Daytona-1, Brad 
Keselowski Martinsville-1 and Martin Truex Jr. Chicagoland
  • Martin Truex Jr. won at Kansas after a restart violation on lap 36, it was the fourth time in 2017 a driver 
has recovered from a in race infraction to win and the second time by Martin Truex Jr.
  • Three drivers got their first career win in 2017: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Talladega-1, Austin Dillon Charlotte-1, Ryan Blaney Pocono-1, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the first first-time winner to get his second win in 2017
  • There have been two track records set in 2017: Kyle Busch (Kentucky), Kurt Busch (Texas-2)
  • Eight times driver has swept all three rounds of qualifying: Kevin Harvick- IMS 2014, MIS 6/14 and TX 4/17, DAR 2017; Joey Logano MART 4/16 10/17; Brad Keselowski TX 11/15; Kyle Busch CHI 2017
  • Qualifying was cancelled twice in 2017: Martinsville-1, Bristol-1
  • 11 races had an overtime finish in 2017: PHX-1, ACS, TAL-1, Dover-1, Daytona-2, KY, Indy, MIS-2, 
RICH-2, CLT-2, MART-2
  • Four races were won with a last lap pass: Daytona-1 Kurt Busch passed Kyle Larson, Talladega-1 Ricky 
Stenhouse Jr. passed Kyle Busch, Talladega-2 Brad Keselowski passed Ryan Newman, Martinsville-2 
Kyle Busch passed Denny Hamlin
  • Three races were affected by rain in 2017: Bristol-1 (postponed until Monday), Charlotte-1 (delayed 90 
minutes lap 145), Indianapolis (Delayed on Lap 12 for 2 hours)
  • Three drivers ended the longest winless streaks of their career in 2017: Ryan Newman 127 races, Kasey 
Kahne 102 races and Kyle Busch 36 races
  • Homestead-Miami Speedway is located 287 miles south of Daytona International Speedway
  • At the end of the Miami race, the Cup Series will have raced 10,581 laps and 14,035 miles; even more with an overtime finish
  • Martin Truex Jr. won six of 10 races on 1.5 mile tracks in 2017, he finished 8th, 8th, 3rd and 2nd in the other four
  • Three of the four Championship four drivers won a race on a 1.5 mile track in 2017, Kyle Busch’s best finish on a 1.5 mile track in 2017 is second in the Coke 600 at Charlotte
  • Martin Truex Jr. is the only driver to finish in the top-10 in all 10 races on 1.5 mile tracks in 2017, Kevin Harvick is a close second with nine
  • Martin Truex Jr. led 1,054 laps on 1.5 mile tracks in 2017 the most of all drivers, the second most laps led is 707 by Kevin Harvick a difference of 347 laps, 90 more laps than the scheduled race distance at Miami
  • The four playoff drivers combined led 77% of the laps raced on 1.5 mile tracks in 2017 (2354 of 3072): Martin Truex Jr. 1,054, Kevin Harvick 707, Kyle Busch 460 and Brad Keselowski 133
  • Jimmie Johnsons 28 career wins on 1.5 mile tracks are the most all time
  • Toyota has six wins on 1.5 mile tracks in 2017, all by Martin Truex Jr.
  • One 1.5 mile track race was won from the pole in 2017: Kansas 2 by Martin Truex Jr.

Season Breakdown

  • Different Winners: 15
  • Most Wins: 7 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Most Poles: 8 – Kyle Busch
  • Most Runner Ups: 8 – Kyle Larson
  • Most Top-fives: 18 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Most Top-10s: 25 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Most Laps Led: 2175 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Stage Wins: 19 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Stage Top-5s: 47 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Stage Top-10s: 54 – Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr.
  • Playoff Points: 69 – Martin Truex Jr.

Miami Track Facts

  • November 19th will be the 19th race at Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Homestead-Miami Speedway hosted a race every season since 1999 and was the final race of the 
season since 2002
  • Homestead-Miami Speedway hosted the season finale in ever playoff season (14 times total)
  • This will be the 11th and final race on a 1.5 mile track in 2017 and the last of five in the playoffs
  • This will be the third points race held in the state of Florida for the MENCS in 2017

Homestead-Miami Track History

  • Homestead was devastated by Hurricane Andrew in August, 1992. Ralph Sanchez, a long time promoter of street races in Miami, had long dreamed of a first-class track in South Florida. After the hurricane he approached the city of Homestead with a proposal to build a track. Within two weeks he negotiated an agreement whereby the City would own the track on county land and lease the facility to Sanchez.
  • Ground was broken August 23, 1994. The first points race was a Busch Series race held on November 5, 1995 won by Dale Jarrett before a sellout crowd. The first competition was an exhibition race for NASCAR Trucks won by Geoff Bodine.
  • The first Cup race was November 14th, 1999 won by Tony Stewart driving the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Pontiac led by crew chief Greg Zipadelli. It was Stewart’s third win of his rookie season. Stewart also won the following year.
  • ISC became the sole owner of the Speedway in 2001 pursuant to an agreement that was made in 1997 when ISC acquired 40% ownership
  • In 2003 the track underwent a major reconfiguration from what was nearly a flat 1.5 mile track to computer designed progressive banking of 18-20 degrees in the turns. The project required over 4 million cubic feet of fill that was hauled in with 10,000 truckloads. The pole speed jumped nearly 25 mph in 2003 to 181.111 (the all-time record) from the previous record of 156.440 mph
  • Homestead has been the NSCS season ending race since 2002.
  • Ford Championship Weekend began in 2003.
  • The 2005 events were held under the lights for the first time.
  • Some features of the 600 acre facility: 1,005 Palm trees, five level 12 story high tower building, 750 TV 
monitor, garage area for 120 cars and 30 suites above the garages
  • In 2009 the track hosted all of North America’s premier motorsports championships: IndyCar, Grand- 
Am, Indy Lights and NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Xfinity (then Nationwide) and Camping World Truck Series.
  • At 25 degree longitude, Homestead is the southern most track that NASCAR visits

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not heading into NASCAR Cup championship race (video)

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This is it, the championship-deciding finale of the 2017 NASCAR Cup season: Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After the third and final elimination race this past Sunday at Phoenix, four drivers remain to battle it out for the championship: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski.

Here’s how those four drivers shape up against other drivers and who’s hot or not heading into Sunday’s race:

WHO’S HOT:

 No. 78 Martin Truex Jr.

  • Second Championship 4 appearance
  • Finished second at Martinsville and Texas, third at Phoenix
  • Finished top five in eight of the nine playoff races this season
  • Seven wins in 2017, the most by a driver since Matt Kenseth had seven in 2013
  • Finished in the top five 18 times and the top 10 25 times this season, both are the series-best
  • Led a series high 2,175 laps in 2017, led the most laps in nine races
  • Best Miami finish is second in 2006
  • Best Miami finish in the last three races is 12th, worst in the prior eight races there was 11th
  • Won six of the 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks this season
  • Top-10 finishes in all 10 1.5-mile races this season
  • Finished top two in the last five 1.5-mile races

No. 4 Kevin Harvick

  • Third Championship 4 appearance
  • Fifth at Martinsville, won at Texas, fifth at Phoenix
  • Will compete for the Championship at Miami for the third time in the last four years
  • Six top-10 finishes in the playoffs and three finishes of 17th or worse
  • One Miami win, 2014 to win the championship
  • Finished top 10 in the last nine Miami races including top three in the last three
  • Top-10 finishes in the last eight 1.5-mile races including winning the last one at Texas
  • 11 career 1.5-mile wins

No. 18 Kyle Busch

  • Third Championship 4 appearance
  • Won at Martinsville on last-lap pass, his third win of the playoffs, 19th at Texas, seventh at Phoenix
  • Five wins this season, all in the last 15 races
  • Failed to lead at Phoenix, snapping a 17-race streak of leading at least one lap
  • One Miami win, 2015 to win the Championship
  • Finished top 10 in four of the last five races at Miami
  • Only one top-10 finish in the last four 1.5-mile races, 10th at Kansas

No. 2 Brad Keselowski

  • First Championship 4 appearance (won 2012 championship under old format)
  • Finished fourth at Martinsville, fifth at Texas and 16th at Phoenix
  • Got some help and luck at Phoenix to make the Championship 4 at Miami for the first time
  • Advanced to the Round of 8 with his win at Talladega
  • Winless at Miami in nine starts, best finish of third, twice
  • Only three top-10 finishes at Miami, all came in the last four races
  • Only two top-10 finishes in the last six 1.5-mile races

No. 11 Denny Hamlin

  • Finished seventh at Martinsville, third at Texas, 35th at Phoenix after an accident after finishing second and first in the first two stages
  • Finished top 10 in nine of the last 12 races
  • Finished Round of Eight fifth in points, -19 to the cutline
  • Two Miami wins, 2009 and 2013
  • Finished top 10 in the last four races at Miami
  • Finished top five in the last six 1.5-mile races

No. 21 Ryan Blaney

  • Finished eighth at Martinsville, sixth at Texas and 17th at Phoenix
  • Finished top 10 in three of the last four races
  • Finished sixth in points in the Round of 8, -23 to the cutline
  • Two series starts at Miami, finished 17th and 26th
  • Worst finish on a 1.5-mile track in the last five races is 11th at Chicago

No. 24 Chase Elliott

  • Finished 27th at Martinsville after late-race wreck with Denny Hamlin while leading. Finished eighth at Texas, second at Phoenix
  • Now has seven career runner-up finishes without a win, tied for the most all-time
  • Five top-five finishes in the playoffs is tied for second to Martin Truex Jr. (eight)
  • Finished seventh in points in the Round of 8, -25 to the cutline
  • One series start at Homestead, started fifth, finished 11th last year
  • Top-10 finishes in the last five 1.5-mile races; best finish of second, twice

No. 20 Matt Kenseth

  • Won at Phoenix, the 39th victory of his career
  • Won at least one race 14 different seasons
  • Left the Round of 12 10th, -30
  • One Miami win, 2007
  • Top-10 finishes in six of the last seven Miami races including the last four
  • 12 career 1.5-mile wins, second most among active drivers

No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.

  • On best streak of season
  • Finished 10th at Phoenix, finished top 12 in six of the last seven races this season
  • Best Miami finish is third in 2013, his only top five at Miami and one of only two top-10 finishes
  • Miami will be the 631st and last start of his Cup career; he has won 26 times

 WHO’S NOT:

No. 42 Kyle Larson

  • Finished 39th at Kansas (engine), 37th at Martinsville and Texas (accidents), 40th at Phoenix (engine), his worst four consecutive races in his career
  • Left the Round of 12 ninth in the standings, -9
  • Eight runner-up finishes this season
  • Four wins in 2017, had one entering this season
  • To- five finishes in the last two races at Miami including runner up last year
  • Finished runner-up four times on 1.5-mile tracks this season

No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

  • Finished eighth at Phoenix, best finish since his Daytona win in July
  • Left the Round of 12 in 11th, -46
  • Best Miami finish is 22nd, three times
  • Only two career 1.5 mile top-10 finishes in 57 starts (three percent)

No. 3 Austin Dillon

  • Finished 14th at Phoenix, fourth straight top-15 finish
  • Finished 14th in the first round, -4
  • Only four top-10 finishes this season, had 13 at this point last year
  • Won on fuel mileage at Charlotte earlier this year
  • Best Miami finish is 12th, last year
  • Only one top-10 finish in the last 12 1.5-mile races, his win at Charlotte in May

No. 1 Jamie McMurray

  • Finished sixth at Phoenix, ended four straight finishes of 18th or worse
  • Left the Round of 12 in 12th, -48
  • Seventeen top-10 finishes this season, six more than this point last year
  • Seventeen top-10 finishes is his second most in a single season (23 in 2004)
  • Five DNF for accidents in 2017
  • Best Miami finish is third in 2008
  • Finished top five in two of the last three races at Miami
  • Top-10 finishes in eight of the last 11 1.5 mile races

No. 48 Jimmie Johnson

  • Finished 12th at Martinsville after starting at the rear, 27th at Texas after a loose loose wheel, 39th at Phoenix for a wreck
  • Only one top-five finish in the last 22 races
  • Finished outside the top 10 in the last five races
  • Four top-five finishes this season, three were wins
  • Finished the Round of 8 eighth in points, -70 to the cutline
  • One Miami win, 2016 to win the Championship, led only three laps
  • Finished top 10 in the last four races at Miami
  • Twenty-eight career 1.5-mile wins, most all-time
  • Only three top-10 finishes in 10 starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season

No. 5 Kasey Kahne

  • Finished 19th at Phoenix, his worst finish in the last seven races
  • Only three top 10 finishes in the last 25 races
  • Finished 15th in the first round, -23 to the cut line
  • Six DNFs accident this season
  • Won at Indianapolis ending a 102 race winless streak, took a super lucky timed caution and turned it into a win.
  • Best Miami finish is 4th in 2006
  • Finished 12th or worse in the last five Miami races

No. 31 Ryan Newman

  • Finished 20th at Phoenix, only one top-10 finish during the playoffs
  • Finished Round of 16 13th in the standings, -2 to the cut line
  • Best Miami finish is second in 2014
  • Two top-three finishes in the last five Miami races but finished 16th or worse in the other three

No. 41 Kurt Busch

  • Finished 21st at Phoenix, six finishes of 20th or worse in the last eight races
  • Only two top-10 finishes in the playoffs
  • Finished 16th in the first round, 25 points below the cut line
  • One Miami win, 2002
  • Last top-five finish at Miami was 2009

No. 14 Clint Bowyer

  • Finished 13th at Phoenix, only three top-10 finishes in the last 13 races
  • Was 88 points out of a playoff spot
  • Finished runner-up three times in 2017
  • Thirteen top-10 finishes in 2017, had three in all of 2016
  • Best Miami finish is second in 2012
  • Finished top 12 in eight of his 12 Miami starts

No. 22 Joey Logano

  • Finished 12th at Phoenix
  • Thirteen finishes outside the top 20 in the last 26 races
  • Won at Richmond after starting in the rear due to a transmission change, but win was ruled 
encumbered due to illegal suspension
  • First time he missed the playoffs with Team Penske
  • Best Miami finish of fourth, twice
  • Finished top 10 in three of the last four Miami starts

 

 

Who will be next Cup driver to win multiple championships?

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images
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As NASCAR’s driver lineup transitions, Jimmie Johnson is the only active competitor with more than one Cup championship.

Not since 2005 has there been a Cup season where there was only one multi-time champion racing full-time. That year it was Jeff Gordon with his four titles. Six other drivers had one title going into that season and Tony Stewart won the championship for his second crown.

Three of the four championship contenders entering Sunday’s race in Miami own one title each — Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch — while Martin Truex Jr. seeks his first crown.

Before the playoff began, some drivers were asked who they thought would be the sport’s next multi-time champion, excluding themselves.

Johnson’s answer was quick.

“I would probably put Harvick first,’’ Johnson said in September. “Just the consistent nature that he and (crew chief) Rodney (Childers) and that No. 4 car has from track to track. If it’s a road course, short track, big track, superspeedway, those guys are just rock solid.

“They have had a challenging year this year switching manufacturers and they are still up there cranking out solid finishes week in and week out. I would start with Kevin and then I would probably put Brad (Keselowski) second.”

Keselowski, not able to select himself, offered a different pick.

“I would say that would be between Joey (Logano) and the two Kyles,’’ he said, referring to Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson.  “They’re really talented. They’re very young. They’ve got great rides. You’d be inclined to say that Kyle Busch would probably get there first because he has the best ride of the three, and he already has a championship, but who knows?’’

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who competed in the playoffs for the first time, offered his take:

“If I look really right now I would say Kevin or Kyle (Busch) would be that guy. They’ve already got one championship, and I feel like they’re in position that they could put themselves in that second championship category this year. 

“I think Truex has got the speed to do that over the next few years, if they can stay at that level and, really, I think Larson is capable of that as well if they’re able to stay at the level they’re at right now or push that level up a little higher. I think with Kyle and Kevin already having one, I think you’ve got to put those at the top of your list.”

The reason there is only one multi-time champion is because of the recent retirements of Tony Stewart (2016) and Jeff Gordon (2015). They combined to win seven titles. Johnson, Gordon and Stewart combined to win 14 of the last 22 championships (63.4 percent).

The other eight titles won during that stretch were by Terry Labonte (1996), Dale Jarrett (1999), Bobby Labonte (2000), Matt Kenseth (2003), Kurt Busch (2004), Keselowski (2012), Harvick (2014) and Kyle Busch (2015).

So, does having a title make one of those former champs the favorite this weekend?

“The pressure is really on (Truex) and (Kyle Busch),’’ Harvick said after Sunday’s race at Phoenix. “Those guys have dominated the year, and I feel like if they don’t win at this point, they would probably feel like they’ve had a letdown.’’

Truex’s response?

“That sounds like Harvick,’’ he said. “If I’m the favorite, perfect, I like that. I think it’s a better position to be in. I was the underdog before and I finished fourth, so yeah, bring it on.’’

GETTING OLDER

The average age of the four Cup title contenders 35.8 years old — two years older than last year.

Since the elimination format debuted in 2014, the 2015 field has the oldest average of 37.0. That championship race had Harvick, Truex, Kyle Busch and Gordon.

The youngest average age for the title contenders is 32.8 set in 2014 with Harvick, Logano, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin.

NO CHEVROLET CUP TITLE, BUT …

Chevrolet has been shut out of the championship round in Cup with the four drivers split evenly between Toyota and Ford.

But Chevrolet is guaranteed to win the Xfinity title. All four drivers — Elliott Sadler, William Byron, Justin Allgaier and Daniel Hemric are with the car manufacturer.

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