Wins mean everything, but doing well in the stages and coming home close to the front seems pretty important also this season. Last week, Matt Kenseth finished ninth, yet lost ground by 30 points to race winner Martin Truex Jr. in Las Vegas alone.
The maximum number of points one can get, what Truex received last week, is 60, and that includes a win and pass to the Chase. By claiming both stages and finishing second a driver would up their count by 55, and that would be enough to move any driver from nothing to something in a hurry. This is especially true when you remember that sometimes a good driver could end up with just one single point on the day, but enough about Kevin Harvick.
Most of our leaders should enjoy their time in Phoenix if their histories can give us a clue. Do not expect much from Truex, Kasey Kahne, or Jamie McMurray. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, on the other hand, should move up and just maybe come next week Dale Earnhardt Jr. might be back on this list.
A win would do it, and Junior did win at Phoenix in 2015. Joey Logano won there last fall. As for Harvick, he is the man. Eight victories, six of the past nine on this track, on one he has at least one victory in each of the past four seasons. I think we just found our favorite for Sunday.
The points would be nice, but after giving it away in Atlanta, for Harvick, a win would mean everything.
1. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 1 WIN – 132 PTS
Stay relevant, stay close, pass Truex…damn, damn, damn.
2. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 1 WIN – 127 PTS
If you were wondering about that voodoo doll in the form of the No. 2…now you know.
3. KURT BUSCH – 1 WIN – 93 PTS
No attempt to hit Joey, but managed to beat on the wall, and was left wanting to beat on his car.
4. KYLE LARSON – 131 PTS
Who does a guy have to fight in order to get some recognition by the mainstream?
5. CHASE ELLIOTT – 129 PTS
Fifth at Atlanta. Third at Las Vegas. The arithmetic sequence points to good things for Phoenix.
6. JOEY LOGANO – 119 PTS
“Give me a sign, hit me baby one more time.”
7. RYAN BLANEY – 106 PTS
It is early, but this car is again reminding us that this was the ride of Pearson and Bonnett.
8. KEVIN HARVICK – 92 PTS
There is video showing Harvick was indeed at Las Vegas…mostly playing the slots in the garage.
9. KASEY KAHNE – 88 PTS
Being surprisingly consistent, with three top dozens, is a real good thing for Kahne.
10. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 86 PTS
After the Daytona wreck, a pair of Top Tens gives Ganassi organization two high fliers.
11. TREVOR BAYNE – 82 PTS
After Edwards left, Roush needed a star in one of his seats. He just might have one.
12. CLINT BOWYER – 73 PTS
You will find Kurt, Kevin, and Clint on this chart. As for Danica, Ty Dillon is a better bet.
13. MATT KENSETH – 71 PTS
Finishes ninth and drops 30 points to Truex in Las Vegas. You just got to love the points system.
14. ARIC ALMIROLA – 70 PTS
Back to a single car operation after nearly 20 seasons with a duo. So far, so good…sort of.
15. DENNY HAMLIN – 68 PTS
A Top Ten at Las Vegas was a hell of a lot better result than his run at Atlanta.
16. PAUL MENARD – 62 PTS
Childress drivers have won five times at Phoenix. Neither of those boys drive for him today.
17. RYAN NEWMAN – 59 PTS
Swinging at Joey doesn’t work, berating him has limited effect, but as for a kiss…stay tuned.
18. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 55 PTS
Oh, there you are, Jimmie. 31 of those 55 points came to him last Sunday.
19. KYLE BUSCH – 50 PTS
“Oops, I did it again,”
20. ERIK JONES – 49 PTS
39th, 14th, 15th…it is a learning thing for the 20-year-old.
20. MICHAEL MCDOWELL – 49 PTS
Not exactly burning up the track, but he wasn’t even on this list last week.