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WITH THE POSTSEASON SET TO GET UNDERWAY, WE PREDICT THE WINNER OF EACH MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES PLAYOFF RACE
Kyle Busch is the regular season champion.
Kevin Harvick has the most wins.
And no one is hotter than Brad Keselowski right now.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs are upon us and it’s certainly shaping up to be an exciting final 10 weeks of the season. With the postseason set to drop the green flag this weekend in Las Vegas, now is the perfect time to try and predict how the next 10 races will go.
While it’s probably safe to assume we’ll probably be wrong more than we are right, there’s no reason we can’t have a little fun and give our best guess as to how the next two-and-a-half months will finish out.
Here’s a look at how we think the next 10 races of the season will go …
Las Vegas – Brad Keselowski
With back-to-back wins to close out the regular season, no one enters the Playoffs hotter than Bad Brad. And while Kevin Harvick dominated March’s race in Sin City, Keselowski is a two-time Las Vegas Motor Speedway winner (2014, ’16) and hasn’t finished worse than seventh in his last six starts.
Richmond – Kyle Busch
With five wins and ridiculous an average finishing position of 7.2 in 26 career starts, Rowdy is as safe a bet as it gets at Richmond Raceway. If those stats aren’t compelling enough for you, how about the fact that out of 11,629 laps run in those 26 starts, Kyle has finished all but ONE of them.
Charlotte (ROVAL) – Kurt Busch
Let’s be honest. Anything could happen in this one. Not only will this be the first-ever race on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL, but it will be the first road course race since NASCAR adopted a postseason format in 2004. While this one is essentially a crapshoot, the most logical way to determine a winner is to see who’s been good on road course races of late. Over the last 10 road course races only one driver (with at least six starts) has an average finishing position under 10.0. And that’s Kurt at 7.1.
Dover – Chase Elliott
It’s a small sample size, that’s true. But in five career starts at Dover International Speedway, Elliott has four top-fives, which includes a disappointing runner-up finish that saw him give up the lead on the penultimate lap. A year later, Elliott has the proverbial winless monkey off his back and is ready to close the deal in Delaware.
Talladega – Brad Keselowski
As much as this may look like wildcard race on paper, a quick look at the stats say otherwise. Since the October 2014 race at Talladega Superspeedway, Penske has visited Victory Lane six times – three times apiece by Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano. The latter won there in April, but the former will remain hot and pick up his second consecutive playoff victory in Alabama.
Kansas – Kevin Harvick
No one has been better over the last four races at Kansas Speedway than Martin Truex Jr – except Happy Harvick, that is. Both should be considered favorites going into Midwest playoff event, but the edge has to go to Harvick, who won there in May and isn’t having to deal with the same off-track distractions facing Truex Jr.
Martinsville – Brad Keselowski
With nine and five, respectively, two drivers – Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin – have combined to win 14 races at Martinsville Speedway. But Johnson, who enters the postseason with only two top-fives all season, hasn’t won at the Virginia half-mile since 2016, while Hamlin hasn’t won there since March of 2015. Kyle Busch is a safe guess, too, but Keselowski should stay hot and lock up the first spot in the Championship Race with a win at the Paperclip.
Texas– Kyle Busch
Make it a clean sweep in Fort Worth for Rowdy, who also will secure a spot in the Championship Race with a win in the AAA Texas 500. Busch, who won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in April, has now won three of the last 10 races at the 1.5-mile oval and should be the favorite again this November.
Phoenix – Kevin Harvick
To say that Harvick as been pretty darn good at ISM Raceway over the years is certainly an understatement. With seven wins in his last dozen starts, including a victory this past March, Happy finishing his day in Victory Lane is as close to a sure thing as it gets. A 10th career win in Arizona this November also will lock the 2014 Cup Series champion into the Championship Race.
Homestead – Kyle Larson
There are simply too many factors and circumstances along the way to simply declare that this victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway also will make Larson the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. But in five career races in South Florida, Larson has three top-fives, all of which have come in his last three starts. Moreover, Larson has led 277 of the last 535 laps run in South Florida. Take him.