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Breaking down NASCAR's Championship 4 drivers

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Breaking down NASCAR's Championship 4 drivers
By: Mario Fritzsche
Translated by: Nick DeGroot
Nov 16, 2018, 4:48 PM

Take a closer look at the four drivers who will battle for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday.

After 26 regular season and nine playoff races, four drivers remain to fight for the title in the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale.

The Championship Four drivers are the best of the best, winning 22 of 35 races run this season with three former series champions among them. Take a look at how each driver stacks up ahead of the 400-mile finale to crown the 2018 MENCS champion.

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion

Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion

Kevin Harvick, the first driver to be crowned champion in this knockout format in 2014, has made the Championship 4 four times in the last five years. If he were to win again, it would again be with Stewart-Haas Racing, but a different manufacturer in Ford (SHR ran Chevrolets in 2014). For team owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, it would be their third title with Stewart himself earning the team's first back in 2011.

Kevin Harvick's 2018 season

Poles: 4
Wins: 8 
Stage wins: 18
Top 5s: 22
Top 10s: 28
Laps led: 1,932
Best playoff result: 1st (Texas, encumbered) 

Kevin Harvicks 2018 paint schemes

Slider
List

Jimmy John's

Jimmy John's
1/11

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Daytona I, Atlanta, Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Martinsville I, Dover I, Michigan I, Bristol II, Talladega II, Homestead

Busch Beer

Busch Beer
2/11

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / LAT Images

Fontana, Bristol I, Pocono I, Loudon, Watkins Glen, Martinsville II

Busch Light

Busch Light
3/11

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Texas I, Kansas I, Kentucky, Kansas II, Phoenix II

Mobil 1

Mobil 1
4/11

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Richmond I, Sonoma, Pocono II, Las Vegas II, Texas II

Busch Beer Flannel

Busch Beer Flannel
5/11

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Talladega I

Mobil 1 / Busch Beer

Mobil 1 / Busch Beer
6/11

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Charlotte I

Jimmy John's Kickin' Ranch

Jimmy John's Kickin' Ranch
7/11

Photo by: Russell LaBounty / NKP / LAT Images

Chicago, Daytona II

Busch Light / Mobil 1

Busch Light / Mobil 1
8/11

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / LAT Images

Michigan II

Busch Beer Throwback

Busch Beer Throwback
9/11

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Darlington

Jimmy John's New 9-Grain Wheat Sub

Jimmy John's New 9-Grain Wheat Sub
10/11

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / LAT Images

Indianapolis, Richmond II, Charlotte II

Busch Outdoors

Busch Outdoors
11/11

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / LAT Images

Dover II

Kevin Harvick's Homestead stats

Starts: 17
Poles: 1 (2016)
Wins: 1 (2014)
Top 5s: 9
Top 10s: 15
Laps led: 315
Average finish: 6.8

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry

Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry

Kyle Busch earned his lone title in 2015 and like Harvick, has made the Championship 4 in four of the last five years. He earned that title despite breaking his leg in the season-opening NASCAR Xfinity Series race and missing the first 12 races of the Cup season, after being granted a playoff waiver by NASCAR due to his injury. Should Busch win Sunday, it would be ten years after joining Joe Gibbs Racing, a team searching for their fifth title. Bobby Labonte delivered their first in 2000, followed by Tony Stewart in 2002 and 2005 and then Busch in 2015.

Kyle Busch's 2018 season

Poles: 4
Wins: 8
Stage Wins: 6
Top 5s: 21
Top 10s: 27
Laps Led: 1,448
Best playoff result: 1st (Richmond, Phoenix) 

Kyle Busch's 2018 paint schemes 

Slider
List

M&M's

M&M's
1/15

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Daytona I, Las Vegas II, Richmond II, Charlotte II, Talladega II, Fort Worth II, Phoenix II, Homestead

Snickers Almond

Snickers Almond
2/15

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / LAT Images

Atlanta

M&M's Caramel

M&M's Caramel
3/15

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / LAT Images

Las Vegas I, Martinsville I, Kansas City I, Sonoma, Pocono II, Indianapolis

Skittles Sweet Heat

Skittles Sweet Heat
4/15

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / LAT Images

Phoenix I

Interstate Batteries

Interstate Batteries
5/15

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / LAT Images

Fontana, Texas I, Daytona II, Loudon, Michigan II, Dover II

Skittles

Skittles
6/15

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Bristol I

M&M's Flavor Vote

M&M's Flavor Vote
7/15

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Richmond I, Talladega I

Pedigree

Pedigree
8/15

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Dover I

M&M's Red White & Blue

M&M's Red White & Blue
9/15

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Charlotte I, Pocono I, Michigan I

Skittles Red White & Blue

Skittles Red White & Blue
10/15

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / NKP / LAT Images

Chicago

Snickers Intense

Snickers Intense
11/15

Photo by: Bob Meyer

Kentucky

M&M's Flavor Vote Winner

M&M's Flavor Vote Winner
12/15

Photo by: Logan Whitton / NKP / LAT Images

Watkins Glen

M&M's White Chocolate

M&M's White Chocolate
13/15

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / LAT Images

Bristol II

Skittles 1998 Retro

Skittles 1998 Retro
14/15

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Darlington

M&M's Halloween

M&M's Halloween
15/15

Photo by: Russell LaBounty / NKP / LAT Images

Kansas II, Martinsville II

Kyle Busch's Homestead stats

Starts: 13
Poles: 0
Wins: 1 (2015) 
Top 5s: 3
Top 10s: 6 Rounds 
Laps Led: 322
Average finish: 18.5

Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry

Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry

Martin Truex Jr. returns to Homestead as the defending race winner and the reigning series champion. Truex made the Championship 4 once before in 2015, beating Kyle Busch for the title in 2017. Even if he is able to become a back-to-back champion, Sunday will be Furniture Row Racing's final race as team owner Barney Visser plans to close their doors at the conclusion of the season. Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn will become Busch's teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019.

If Truex prevails, he will also be the first driver in this Championship 4 era of the playoffs to successfully defend his crown. Although he has no wins in the 2018 playoffs, he has been leading entering the final lap on multiple occasions before incidents snatched the victory away.

Martin Truex Jr.'s 2018 season

Poles: 4
Wins: 4
Stage Wins: 10
Top 5s: 19
Top 10s: 20
Laps Led: 996
Best playoff result: 3rd (Las Vegas, Richmond, Martinsville) 

Martin Truex Jr.'s 2018 paint schemes

Slider
List

Bass Pro Shops / 5-Hour Energy

Bass Pro Shops / 5-Hour Energy
1/7

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Daytona I, Atlanta, Las Vegas I, Fontana, Texas I, Richmond I, Talladega I, Charlotte I, Pocono I, Darlington, Talladega II, Kansas II, Texas II, Homestead

5-Hour Energy / Bass Pro Shops

5-Hour Energy / Bass Pro Shops
2/7

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / LAT Images

Phoenix I, Martinsville I, Dover I, Kansas City I, Sonoma, Chicago, Loudon, Watkins Glen, Michigan II, Dover II, Martinsville II

Auto-Owners Insurance

Auto-Owners Insurance
3/7

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Bristol I, Michigan I, Kentucky, Pocono II, Indianapolis, Richmond II, Phoenix II

Bass Pro Shops Patriotic / 5-Hour Energy

Bass Pro Shops Patriotic / 5-Hour Energy
4/7

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Daytona II

Bass Pro Shops / Ducks Unlimited

Bass Pro Shops / Ducks Unlimited
5/7

Photo by: Logan Whitton / NKP / LAT Images

Bristol II

5-Hour Energy

5-Hour Energy
6/7

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / LAT Images

Las Vegas II

Auto-Owners Insurance Teal

Auto-Owners Insurance Teal
7/7

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / LAT Images

Charlotte II

Martin Truex Jr.'s Homestead stats

Starts: 13
Poles: 0
Wins: 1 (2017) 
Top 5s: 4
Top 10s: 8 
Laps Led: 189
Average finish: 11.5

Joey Logano

Joey Logano, No. 22 Team Penske Ford Fusion

Joey Logano, No. 22 Team Penske Ford Fusion

Joey Logano, championship runner-up to Jimmie Johnson in 2016, is the only driver in this year's Championship 4 yet to win the title. Logano has made the final four twice before in 2014 and 2016 and his journey to this year's title-decider was a bit of a controversial one. After Truex fought to cleanly pass Logano for the win at Martinsville, Logano moved him out of the way and snatched back the win, securing his place in the Championship 4. Truex has vowed to return the favor should they find themselves battling each other Sunday.

If Logano earns his first title this weekend, it would be Roger Penske's second as a team owner with Brad Keselowski delivering his first in 2012.

Joey Logano's 2018 season

Poles: 1
Wins: 2
Stage Wins: 5
Top 5s: 12
Top 10s: 25
Laps Led: 854
Best playoff result: 1st (Martinsville) 

Joey Loganos 2018 paint schemes

Slider
List

Shell / Pennzoil

Shell / Pennzoil
1/7

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Daytona I, Atlanta, Phoenix I, Martinsville I, Fort Worth I, Richmond I, Dover I, Charlotte I, Pocono I, Michigan I, Sonoma, Chicago, Daytona II, Kentucky, Loudon, Pocono II, Watkins Glen, Michigan II, Bristol II, Indianapolis, Richmond II, Charlotte II, Dover II, Talladega II, Kansas II, Martinsville II, Phoenix II, Homestead

Pennzoil

Pennzoil
2/7

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Las Vegas I, Las Vegas II

AAA Southern California

AAA Southern California
3/7

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / LAT Images

Fontana

Autotrader

Autotrader
4/7

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Bristol I

Shell / Pennzoil / Autotrader

Shell / Pennzoil / Autotrader
5/7

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / LAT Images

Talladega I

AAA Insurance

AAA Insurance
6/7

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / LAT Images

Kansas I, Texas II

Pennzoil Throwback

Pennzoil Throwback
7/7

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / LAT Images

Darlington

Joey Logano's Homestead stats

Starts: 9
Poles: 1 (2012) 
Wins: 0
Top 5s: 2
Top 10s: 4 Rounds 
Laps Led: 78
Average finish: 14.9

Direct comparison of the Championship 4 drivers

2018 season

Driver Team/Car Victories Stage wins Top 5s Top 10s Laps Led
Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing/Ford 8th 18 22 28 1932

Kyle Busch

Joe Gibbs Racing/Toyota

8th 6 21 27 1448

Martin Truex Jt.

Furniture Row Racing/Toyota 4 10 19 20 996

Joey Logano

Team Penske/Ford

2 5 12 25 854

Homestead results

Driver Starts Victories Top 5s Top 10s Laps Led

Kevin Harvick

17 1 9 15 315

Kyle Busch

13 1 3 6 322

Martin Truex Jr.

13 1 4 8th 189

Joey Logano

9 0 2 4 78

Career results

Driver Age Debut Starts Victories Top 5s Top 10s

Laps Led

Best points result

Kevin

Harvick

42

Rockingham

2001

645 45 190 335 13023 1st (2014)

Kyle Busch

33

Las Vegas

2004

497 51 182 268 15829 1st (2015)

Martin

Truex Jr.

38

Atlanta

2004

476 19 86 180 7515 1st (2017)

Joey

Logano

28

Loudon

2008

362 20 103 178 5017 2nd (2016)

All NASCAR champions from the playoff era

Slider
List

2004: Kurt Busch - Roush Fenway Racing - Ford

2004: Kurt Busch - Roush Fenway Racing - Ford
1/14

Photo by: Autostock

2005: Tony Stewart - Joe Gibbs Racing - Chevrolet

2005: Tony Stewart - Joe Gibbs Racing - Chevrolet
2/14

Photo by: Getty Images

2006: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorsports - Chevrolet

2006: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorsports - Chevrolet
3/14

Photo by: General Motors

2007: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorsports - Chevrolet

2007: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorsports - Chevrolet
4/14

Photo by: Kurt Dahlstrom

2008: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorsports - Chevrolet

2008: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorsports - Chevrolet
5/14

Photo by: Motorsport.com / ASP Inc.

2009: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorsports - Chevrolet

2009: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorsports - Chevrolet
6/14

Photo by: Getty Images

2010: Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick-Chevrolet)

2010: Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick-Chevrolet)
7/14

Photo by: Motorsport.com / ASP Inc.

2011: Tony Stewart (Stewart/Haas-Chevrolet)

2011: Tony Stewart (Stewart/Haas-Chevrolet)
8/14

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Tony Stewart gewinnt im Chase 2011 fünf Rennen (Chicago, Loudon, Martinsville, Fort Worth, Homestead) und erringt im denkwürdigen Finale in Homestead gegen Carl Edwards seinen dritten Titel, seinen zweiten in der Playoff-Ära.

2012: Brad Keselowski - Team Penske - Dodge

2012: Brad Keselowski - Team Penske - Dodge
9/14

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

2013: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorsports - Chevrolet

2013: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorsports - Chevrolet
10/14

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

2014: Kevin Harvick - Stewart-Haas Racing - Chevrolet

2014: Kevin Harvick - Stewart-Haas Racing - Chevrolet
11/14

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

2015: Kyle Busch - Joe Gibbs Racing - Toyota

2015: Kyle Busch - Joe Gibbs Racing - Toyota
12/14

Photo by: NASCAR Media

2016: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorports - Chevrolet

2016: Jimmie Johnson - Hendrick Motorports - Chevrolet
13/14

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

2017: Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture-Row-Toyota)

2017: Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture-Row-Toyota)
14/14

Photo by: Logan Whitton / NKP / LAT Images


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