Two of the season’s most competitive championship contenders, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, remain among the top four in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings heading into this week’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. But both seem overdue to return to Victory Lane.
Busch, a four-race winner and the 2019 regular season champion, heads into the AAA Texas 500 ranked third in the Playoff standings, seven points behind second-place Denny Hamlin. He’s 20 points behind standings leader and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr., who has already secured a spot in the Championship 4 with his win last weekend at Martinsville.
Team Penske driver Logano is a two-race winner this season and challenged Busch for the regular season title. He is currently fourth in the Playoff standings, three points behind third-place Busch and 14 points ahead of fifth-place Kevin Harvick.
But for all their early season success, neither Busch nor Logano has won a race since June – taking the checkered flag in consecutive weekends. They each have only three top-10 showings through the opening seven races of the Playoffs and neither has earned top 10s in consecutive Playoff races.
Busch was the quickest driver to reach four victories this season, earning his fourth on June 2 at Pocono. His 1,375 laps led on the season are most in the series. And his average finish of 9.5 through the first 33 races is second best in the series to his JGR teammate Denny Hamlin (9.2).
Since his victory at Pocono, however, Busch has 11 top-10 finishes in 19 races. Eight times he finished a race lower than he started on the grid, including a pair of season-low 37th-place finishes at Indianapolis and the Charlotte ROVAL. His best Playoff showing was a runner-up at Richmond Raceway – the second race of the Playoffs – where he led a race-high 202 laps but finished runner-up to Truex by more than two seconds.
Logano earned his wins in March at Las Vegas and this summer at Michigan, where he won from the pole position. His average start (10.7) this season is third best behind only Harvick (9.0) and his Penske teammate Brad Keselowski (10.1). He has 10 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes on the season.
However, in the 18 races since his Michigan win on June 10, he has only two top-five and seven top-10 showings. Eleven times in those 18 races, Logano has finished worse than he’s started. His best Playoff showing is an eighth place last week at Martinsville.
Busch and Hamlin are tied with the most Texas wins (three) among the eight Playoff drivers, his last coming in the spring of 2018. Logano has one Texas win in the spring race in 2014. Busch has a pair of top 10s – including the win – in his last five Texas starts. Logano had a string of six consecutive top-10 finishes at Texas snapped this March, when he finished 17th.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!