Special Edition Championship 4 News and Notes - Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Drivers

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 400

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Sunday, November 17

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400.5 miles (267 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 300

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Saturday, Nov. 16

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                   

Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

 

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 200

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Friday, Nov. 15

The Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                   

Distance: 201 miles (134 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 30),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on lap 134)

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 (In Alphabetical Order)

The stage is set and it can be argued that the cream has risen to the top this season as the four winningest drivers will be contending for the championship this Sunday in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN, and  SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

That foursome, comprised of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., as well as Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, account for 21 victories in the 35 races leading up to Sunday’s finale.

Of note, last year’s Championship 4 (Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Truex and Logano) combined for 22 wins through the opening 35 events.

Truex leads the pack with seven wins this season – the same number he had tallied heading into Miami the year he won the championship (2017). Hamlin trails slightly with six wins and Harvick and Busch have four victories apiece.

Three of the four drivers are former champions – Truex (2017), Busch (2015) and Harvick (2014) - with Hamlin looking for his first Cup title.

Here’s an in-depth look at the championship contenders in 2019: 

 

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry)

 

By The Numbers:

1 – Number of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series titles Kyle Busch has won (2015).

1 – Number of wins Kyle Busch has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway - 2015 (tied with Championship 4 drivers Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.)

4 – Number of top-five finishes Kyle Busch has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

5 – Number of times Kyle Busch has made it to the Championship 4 in the current Playoff format (tied with Kevin Harvick for the most Championship 4 appearances).

4 – Number of Monster Energy Cup Series wins Kyle Busch posted in 2019 (Phoenix-1, Fontana, Bristol-1, Pocono-1)

7 – Number of top-10 finishes Kyle Busch has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

9.2 – Busch’s average finish during the entire 2019 season.

11 – Stage wins in 2019 – tied with Joey Logano for most in series.

12.11 – Busch’s average finish during the first nine races of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

12.5 – Busch’s average starting position during the 2019 season

16 – Number of top-five finishes Kyle Busch has posted this season.

17.4 – Busch’s average finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway

26 – Number of top-10 finishes Kyle Busch has posted during the 2019 season

99.8 – Kyle Busch’s career driver rating at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

107.5 – Season-to-date driver rating, tops in the series.

343 – Total number of laps led at Homestead-Miami Speedway by Kyle Busch (second best among the Championship 4)

1462 - Total number of laps led in 2019 season

 

Busch eyeing multi-Cup championships club

After winning the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in dramatic come-from-behind fashion, Kyle Busch is looking to become just the 16th driver in series history to win two or more championships when he races in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio).

Busch would be joining prestigious company:

 

Drivers with Multiple Championships (1949-2018)

Rank

No. of Titles

Drivers

Years

1

7

Jimmie Johnson

2016, ‘13, ’10, ‘09, ‘08, ‘07, ‘06

Dale Earnhardt

1994, ’93, ‘91, ‘90, ‘87, ‘86, ‘80

Richard Petty

1979, ‘75, ‘74, ‘72, ‘71, ‘67, ‘64

4

4

Jeff Gordon

2001, ‘98, ‘97, ‘95

5

3

Darrell Waltrip

1985, ‘82, ‘81

Cale Yarborough

1978, ‘77, ‘76

David Pearson

1969, ‘68, ‘66

Lee Petty

1959, ‘58, ‘54

Tony Stewart

2011, ‘05, ‘02

10

2

Terry Labonte

1996, ‘84

Ned Jarrett

1965, ‘61

Joe Weatherly

1963, ‘62

Buck Baker

1957, ‘56

Tim Flock

1955, ‘52

Herb Thomas

1953, ‘51

* 15 total multiple Monster Energy Series champions

Kyle Busch will have to battle two other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers also looking for their second series championship in Martin Truex Jr. (2017) and Kevin Harvick (2014).

 

Regular season champion looking to reign in the end

Kyle Busch earned the 2019 Monster Energy Series regular season championship with four wins, 13 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes through the opening 26 races. He tied a series all-time record with 11 consecutive top-10 finishes to start the season.

This marks the fifth consecutive year Busch has won at least four races and he’s won multiple races in 11 of his 15 fulltime seasons. His pole-winning lap at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway last week marked the first pole position of the season – extending his run of seasons with a pole win to 12 straight years (and 14 of his 15 full-time seasons overall).

Certainly, Busch established himself as championship-ready from the drop of the first green flag this season – reeling off that streak of top-10 finishes and becoming the first driver to hoist four trophies this year. He’d now like to become the first active driver since Jimmie Johnson won his record-tying seventh season title in 2016 to repeat as Monster Energy Series champion.

This is Busch’s fifth consecutive Championship 4 appearance at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway. His lone win at the track came in 2015 resulting in his first series championship. He was runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. in 2017 and finished fourth last year.

 

Busch has momentum at Miami

For years it appeared the Homestead-Miami Speedway was a thorn in Kyle Busch’s side – a rare venue on the schedule where the certain future NASCAR Hall of Famer struggled to find Victory Lane. He found it when it mattered most, however, winning the 2015 race and his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Since hoisting the champion’s trophy, Busch has three top-10 finishes, including a championship near-miss of runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. in 2017. He finished fourth last year.

Although Busch won the 2019 regular season championship, he hasn’t hoisted a race trophy since June 2 at Pocono. But that might not be of concern for Busch. Of the five Playoff seasons in which Busch has qualified for the Championship 4 (2015-present), twice (2015 and 2016) he did not win during the nine-race Playoff stretch that set the final quartet of championship contenders. In 2015, however, he still went on to claim the championship.

Busch has seven top-10 finishes in 14 starts at the South Florida 1.5-miler, including six in the last seven seasons. His one win came in 2015 when he led only 41 laps and held off Kevin Harvick by 1.552-seconds for the race victory that secured that Cup title.

 

Adam Stevens: The man atop the pit box 

Since pairing up in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with Kyle Busch in 2015, crew chief Adam Stevens has shown that he is one of the best crew chiefs in the sport.

The Busch-Stevens pair has combined for the following achievements in 126 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races together since 2015:

  • 26 wins
  • 80 top fives
  • 114 top 10s
  • 6,925 laps led
  • 15 Busch Pole awards
  • One Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship (2015)
  • Five consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearances
  • Six consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances

The two will look to capture their second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. If they accomplish the feat, Stevens will become just the 15th different crew chief in the series with multiple titles.

 

Coach Gibbs pursuing fifth championship

How do you follow-up a hall of fame football coaching career that included three championships at the highest level of your sport?

With four – and counting – championships at the highest level of motorsports.

Coach Joe Gibbs led the Washington Redskins to Super Bowl titles in 1983, ’88 and ’92. His Joe Gibbs Racing stable has won Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships with Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002, 2005) and Kyle Busch (2015). Toss in two NASCAR Xfinity Series crowns in 2009 with Kyle Busch and 2016 with Daniel Suarez, and easy to understand why Gibbs was chosen this year for the NASCAR Hall of Fame – the second professional sports hall of fame for the former football coach.

The odds certainly seem stacked in his favor this year to add to that legacy. Three of the four Cup Series championship eligible drivers are Joe Gibbs Racing competitors – Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin. All four of his Monster Energy Series team drivers – also including Erik Jones – qualified for the 2019 Playoffs. And his NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Christopher Bell won a series-best eight races and will contend for that series championship at Homestead as well.

 

 

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry)

 

By The Numbers:

0 – Number of career DNFs at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 14 career starts. He is the only Playoff driver without a DNF at the track.

2 – Number of wins Denny Hamlin has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2009 and 2013) – most among Championship 4 drivers 

2 – Number of times Denny Hamlin has made it to the Championship 4 in the new Playoff format (2014 and 2019)

3 – Pole positions Denny Hamlin has won at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2015, 2017-18)

4 – Number of top-five finishes Denny Hamlin has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway 

6 – Number of wins Denny Hamlin has during the 2019 season, including two during the Playoffs (Daytona-1, Texas-1, Pocono-2, Bristol-2, Kansas-2, Phoenix-2)

6 – Number of stage wins Denny Hamlin has posted during the 2019 season.

8.78 – Denny Hamlin’s average finish in first nine Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races of 2019

9 – Number of top-10 finishes Denny Hamlin has recorded at Homestead-Miami Speedway

9.5 – Hamlin’s average finish during the 2019 season

10.6 – Denny Hamlin’s average finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway 

11.3 – Denny Hamlin’s average starting position during the 2019 season

19 – Number of top-five finishes Denny Hamlin has logged during the 2019 season.

23 – Number of top-10 finishes Denny Hamlin has tallied this season

96.7 – Denny Hamlin’s career driver rating at Homestead-Miami Speedway

97.7 – Denny Hamlin’s 2019 season-to-date driver rating

254 – Total number of laps led at Homestead-Miami Speedway by Denny Hamlin

920 – Total number of laps led in 2019 

 

Back at HOME-stead

The last time that Denny Hamlin competed among the Championship 4 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship was 2014 – the debut of the series’ new Playoff system. He finished third in the race, which was won by fellow 2019 Championship 4 driver Kevin Harvick.

But even though Hamlin won multiple races in the ensuing three seasons, his best championship finish in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was sixth place – in both 2016 and 2017.

That’s not to say, however, that Hamlin hasn’t raced for the title at Homestead previously. His closest near-miss to hoisting the big trophy came in 2010 when Hamlin finished runner-up to Jimmie Johnson – who won his record fifth straight championship that year. Hamlin won at Texas and held a solid points lead over Johnson as the series headed to Phoenix for the penultimate race.

But instead of clinching his first championship in the desert after leading a commanding 190 of 312 laps at the Arizona mile-long circuit, Hamlin had to pit late for fuel and ended up 12th. He took a 15-point lead over Johnson into the Homestead finale, but made contact with Greg Biffle early in the race and only managed to climb back to a 14th-place finish. Johnson finished runner-up and took the championship by 39 points over the then 30-year-old Hamlin.

However, the most recent race winner among the four title hopefuls – with a statement-making win at Phoenix on Sunday – has said he has been looking forward to another championship opportunity for years. He is the only multi-time Homestead winner among the Championship 4 – winning in 2009 and 2013. He’s won the pole position in three of the last four races (2015, 2017, 2018) and has top-10 finishes in five of the last six races.

 

Championship race debut for crew chief Chris Gabehart

This week marks the return of Denny Hamlin to championship eligibility for the first time in five seasons – and it will be the title race debut for his first-year Cup crew chief Chris Gabehart. The longtime Joe Gibbs Racing team member led Erik Jones to a fourth-place finish in the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship and last year led the efforts of the team’s Xfinity Series standout Brandon Jones.

Since joining forces with Hamlin and the No. 11 JGR Toyota team, Gabehart is 1-for-1 in title eligibility, won a Daytona 500 trophy and five other races – including Sunday’s must-win race at Phoenix. Not only has he led the team to a position in the Championship 4, but his team is considered a very legitimate championship favorite.

Under Gabehart’s leadership Hamlin has earned a career-high in top-five finishes (19) and hoisted the most trophies (six) since a career best eight-win year in 2010.

“Myself, I’m just a newcomer,’’ Gabehart, 38, said following Sunday’s Phoenix victory. “Was tasked with a job from Coach (Gibbs) and everybody at (sponsor) FedEx and Toyota and Denny. Just so thankful that they believe in me and gave me the reins to get it done.

“[Denny] gave me the leash I needed to get going,’’ Gabehart continued. “Quickly we all marched in the right direction. I’m just glad that, yes, I feel like we’ve proven ourselves to be one of the four best race teams this year.’’

 

More-mentum

Denny Hamlin earned his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole position at Phoenix in 2005 in only his sixth career start.

The following year he marked his fulltime debut with Joe Gibbs Racing and he immediately started things on the right foot winning the 2006 Daytona Speedweeks season-opening Budweiser Shootout in his first try. Since then Hamlin has earned 37 Cup points-race victories – picking up his second Daytona 500 win this February.

In 2010, Hamlin finished a career best runner-up to Jimmie Johnson for the Cup championship. In 2014, he qualified for the series’ first ever four-driver Championship round at Homestead-Miami Speedway and finished third. This week marks the first time he’s advanced to the Championship 4 since then and he comes into Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 riding momentum as the most recent race winner – leading 143 laps en route to the win at Phoenix last weekend.

Hamlin has started and finished strong, opening the season by winning the first race at Daytona and then the penultimate event of the season at Phoenix. In between, Hamlin’s turned in career high marks for top-five (19) and top-10 (23) results. His six wins is the second-highest single season total he’s ever had – second only to an eight-win 2010.

His 920 laps led in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is the most in eight seasons and more than double his output (380 laps) of last season.

Hamlin joins JGR teammate and fellow Cup title contender Martin Truex Jr. as the only drivers with multiple Playoff wins. Hamlin won at Kansas and Phoenix. Truex won at Las Vegas, Richmond, and Martinsville.

 

 

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang)

 

By The Numbers:

1 – Number of wins Kevin Harvick has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2014) 

2 – Number of wins from pole position in 2019 (Indianapolis, Texas-2)

4 – Number of wins Kevin Harvick has during the 2019 season, including one during the Playoffs (New Hampshire, Michigan-2, Indianapolis, Texas-2)

5 – Number of times Kevin Harvick has made it to the Championship 4 in the new Playoff format.

6 – Number of stage wins Kevin Harvick has posted during the 2019 season.

– Number of Busch Pole Awards Harvick has earned in 2019 season – most in series

6.11 – Kevin Harvick’s average finish in first nine Playoff races of 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

6.6 – Kevin Harvick’s average finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway 

8.7 – Kevin Harvick’s average starting position during the 2019 season

10.2 – Kevin Harvick’s average finish during the 2019 season

10 – Number of top-five finishes Kevin Harvick has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway – most all-time.

14 – Number of top-five finishes Kevin Harvick has logged during the 2019 season.

16 – Number of top-10 finishes Kevin Harvick has recorded at Homestead-Miami Speedway – most all-time.

25 – Number of top-10 finishes Kevin Harvick has tallied this season.

104.9 – Kevin Harvick’s 2019 season-to-date driver rating –  second-best in the Monster Energy Series.

108.2 – Kevin Harvick’s career driver rating at Homestead-Miami Speedway (best among the Championship 4).

373 – Total number of laps led at Homestead-Miami Speedway by Kevin Harvick (most among the Championship 4).

912 – Total number of laps led in 2019 

 

Happy hopes to take tome second championship in Miami

Kevin Harvick will attempt to capture his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title in Sunday’s season finale Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The No. 4 SHR Ford driver won the first championship race at Homestead under the current elimination-style postseason format in 2014 for his first and only series crown.

In 18 starts at the 1.5-mile track, Harvick claims one win and a series-high 10 top fives and 16 top 10s. He has the track series-best average finish (6.6) and second-ranked driver rating (108.2). His 373 laps led is tops among the championship contenders at Homestead.

He has finished worse than third-place only once (fourth in 2017) in five championship races (under this current format) there. It also marks the only time in those five races he did not lead a lap. He’s led at least 46 laps in four of the five races.

 

Rodney Childers calling the shots for Harvick

A most familiar face will be back atop Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team pit box this week after missing the 2018 Championship race while serving a two-race suspension. The penalty was handed down after failing post-race inspection at the R&D Center following the race in Texas.

Childers guided Harvick to the Monster Energy Series title in 2014 – the pair’s first year working together at the Stewart-Haas Racing team. The pairing and the success it has produced makes Harvick a favorite at any track any week of the season. But after missing a title opportunity last year, Childers is eager to re-take his position on the pit box and try to lead Harvick to a second title – to make him the only other active driver besides seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson with multiple series championships.

Since the two joined forces fulltime at SHR six years ago, they have won 26 races and earned 102 top-five and 149 top-10 finishes together. The pairing has recorded at least 14 top fives and 20 top 10s all six seasons they have worked together. During that time, Harvick has won multiple races each season, including a career-high of eight in 2018.

In earning the victory at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago, Harvick now has 49 career wins – tying him with his team owner and newly named NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Tony Stewart. A 50th win this weekend at Homestead would tie Harvick with NASCAR Hall of Famers Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett on the wins list.

 

NASCAR’s intermediate master

For years, Kevin Harvick has been known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ top driver on intermediate tracks.

Harvick has 16 wins on intermediate tracks in his career – most among the four championship contenders. Kyle Busch has 13, Martin Truex Jr. has 12 and Denny Hamlin has nine. All four of the drivers have won at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway with Harvick (2014), Busch (2015) and Truex (2017) doing it in their championship years. Hamlin won twice there prior to the 2014 Playoff format.

Since the beginning of the Playoff system in 2014, Truex leads this title-seeking foursome with 12 wins on 1.5-mile tracks. Harvick has 10, Busch has seven and Hamlin has three.

This season, Harvick has led more than twice the number of laps (549) at 1.5-mile venues compared to his three fellow title contenders. Busch, who did not win this season at a 1.5-mile track, has led 249 laps on the intermediate tracks, slightly more than his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin (232) and Truex (195).

 

Stewart-Haas Racing can win third championship in 10 years

If Kevin Harvick wins the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title on Sunday, he would give Stewart-Haas Racing its third championship in the 10 years since Tony Stewart left Joe Gibbs Racing to form the team with Gene Haas.

Stewart won the organization its first championship in 2011, while Harvick earned the second title for it in 2014.

Over the same time frame only Hendrick Motorsports has more titles with Jimmie Johnson’s four.

 

Championships with different manufacturers

Kevin Harvick won his 2014 championship in a Chevrolet and is attempting to earn his second title driving a Ford. The last driver to win a new championship with different manufacturers was Harvick’s team owner, Tony Stewart. He earned the 2002 crown racing a Pontiac, then captured the 2005 and 2011 titles driving a Chevrolet.

Nine drivers have won championships with multiple manufacturers: Buck Baker, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett, Richard Petty, Tim Flock and Stewart.

 

 

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry)

By The Numbers:

1 – Wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Martin Truex Jr. (2017)

4 – Number of times Martin Truex Jr. has made it to the Championship 4 in the new Playoffs format.

5 – Number of top-five finishes Martin Truex Jr. has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

6.22 – Martin Truex Jr.’s average finish during the first nine races of the 2019 Playoffs.

7– Number of wins Martin Truex Jr. has posted during the 2019 season (Richmond-1, Dover-1, Charlotte-1, Sonoma, Las Vegas-2, Richmond-2, Martinsville-2) – Most in the Series.

8 – Number of stage wins during the 2019 season

9 – Number of top-10 finishes Martin Truex Jr. has posted at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

10.0 – Martin Truex Jr.’s average finish during the entire 2019 season

10.8 – Martin Truex Jr.’s average finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway

14 – Number of top-five finishes Martin Truex Jr. has posted during the 2019 season.

23 – Number of top-10 finishes Martin Truex Jr. has posted during the 2019 season.

102.7 – Martin Truex Jr.’s 2019 season-to-date driver rating.

105.5 – Martin Truex Jr.’s career driver rating at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

209 – Total number of laps led at Homestead-Miami Speedway by Martin Truex Jr.

1,268 – Laps led by Martin Truex Jr. in 2019.

 

Martin Truex Jr. and JGR gel from the start

Martin Truex Jr. answered any doubters with a hugely successful and arguably seamless move to the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota this season. Coming off a 2017 title in which he won a personal best eight races en route to the championship and a following that up with a four-victory, Championship 4 appearance last season with Furniture Row Racing, many wondered how the transition to JGR would go. And Truex and his crew chief Cole Pearn have answered with an unquestionable statement-making season.

Truex leads the Monster Energy Series in wins with seven – including a series-best three in the nine Playoff races to date. He won on short tracks, a road course and two 1.5-mile tracks, which are the same length as Homestead-Miami Speedway where he will race for his second championship on Sunday. Truex’s 23 top-10 finishes are his best outside his 2017 championship season when he scored 26 top 10s.

He won four races during an eight-week stretch in late spring/early summer. His three Playoff victories (at Las Vegas, Richmond, Va. and Martinsville, Va.) are tops in the field – as is his 6.2 average finish in the nine Playoff races so far. And his 654 laps led in the Playoffs is most among the Championship 4 drivers. Hamlin has led 547 laps; Busch has led 296 and Harvick has led 200 laps in the previous nine Playoff races.

 

On track in Miami

Though there have been some “rough patches” in Martin Truex Jr.’s Homestead-Miami Speedway resume, his resume of late has been outstanding. Truex finished first (2017) and second (2018) in the last two years. He was also runner-up in 2006 and third place in 2011 and is averaging a 10.8 finish in 14 starts at the track.

Kevin Harvick’s (6.6) average finish at Homestead is best among the Championship 4 drivers. Truex’s (10.8) average finish is just slightly off pace of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate’s Denny Hamlin (10.6). Kyle Busch is averaging 17.4.

In the five Playoff races at Homestead (since 2014), Truex has led 101 laps, third best among the current four championship eligible drivers. Harvick has led 237, Busch 106 and Hamlin, 91.

 

Cole Pearn looking for second championship atop the pit box

Most unusual about Cole Pearn is that his only experience as a crew chief has been atop a Monster Energy Series pit box – and only for Martin Truex Jr. But he has shown over the past five seasons that he’s made for this role.

Prior to 2015, Truex had two career wins – in 2007 and 2013. Since Pearn took over calling the shots for the New Jersey native, Truex has recorded an impressive 25 wins.

And the most important of those wins came at this weekend’s venue back in 2017 with the pair united to win their first championship together – and the only championship that Furniture Row Racing would record. Following the 2018 season, Furniture Row Racing disbanded and Pearn and Truex moved together to Joe Gibbs Racing.

It wasn’t unfamiliar territory, as the two teams had an alliance. But it did require that Pearn (and his family) relocate from Denver, Colorado, where FRR had been headquartered to NASCAR’s hub in the Charlotte area.

The move didn’t slow them down, however, as the pair have matched their 2017 efforts prior to Miami (seven wins through the 35 races).

 

Multi-team champion a possibility

Should Martin Truex Jr. claim the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship on Sunday evening at Homestead-Miami Speedway he would become the seventh driver in NASCAR history to earn the season-ending trophy for multiple teams.

Truex won the Cup championship in 2017 driving for Furniture Row Racing team. And he is one of three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in the Championship 4 this weekend in South Florida.

Buck Baker, Ned Jarrett, David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte and Tony Stewart all won NASCAR’s most prestigious title for more than one team. Stewart was the last to do so – winning a Cup championship at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2002 and 2005 and then for his own Stewart-Haas Racing team in 2011.

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