Maybe in the grand scheme of things, this is just a thought experiment. A fun way to pass the time as NASCARâ€™s regular season rapidly dwindles.
Or maybe, itâ€™s more telling. Maybe this Brad Keselowski quote, which came from NASCAR Race Hub on Fox Sports 1 last week, will be something to remember as this seasonâ€™s epic championship battles progresses and evolves:
â€śI think the 4 and 78 are the two fastest cars on the race track,â€ť Keselowski said, â€śand the 18 is the best-executing team.â€ť
To hear from a fellow driver that Kevin Harvick (No. 4 team) and Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 team) have the fastest cars this Cup Series season, even when Kyle Buschâ€™s No. 18 is first in the points standings, is telling. It also prompts a fun question:
Which one of NASCARâ€™s Big 3 â€” Harvick, Truex, and Busch â€” will win the most races this season?
Harvick has six. Busch, thanks to his sweep at Pocono last week, does too. And Truex, with four, isnâ€™t far behind.
The flat statistics seem to back up Keselowskiâ€™s claim. Harvick, for example, has more wins than he does finishes outside the Top 10 this season (and that includes his first-ever last-place finish in May). Even though he only has one win since early May, heâ€™s also recorded two second-place finishes and a handful of other Top 5s. If anything, the wins become less impressive when you consider how consistently dominant heâ€™s been.
Then thereâ€™s Truex, who won three of his four this year in the last two months. To hear Kez call him one of the fastest cars is interesting â€” after last yearâ€™s dominance en route to a first career Cup Series championship, shouldnâ€™t that have been a given? Only it wasnâ€™t, especially since Truex struggled so in the early parts of this season.
Rather, Truexâ€™s hot streak really only picked up the last two months. Heâ€™s been in prime 2017 level form since then, but can it be maintained?
And then Kyle Busch, who … doesnâ€™t have one of the fastest cars, even though heâ€™s currently first on the leaderboard? It may be true. At multiple races this season, including ones heâ€™s won, Busch has said as much himself. I thought we were the third-best car today …
Not that it much matters, especially if what Keselowski says is true. The No. 18 team just does not mess up. They donâ€™t. There are no untimely mistakes, no slipping on pit road or choosing the wrong lane. Itâ€™s all calculated, all so precise. Thereâ€™s a reason the man has 192 wins across all three of NASCARâ€™s series.
Heck, he could pass Richard Pettyâ€™s 200 this year if he keeps up his current pace.
So realistically, which of the three will end this season with the most wins? Letâ€™s eliminate Truex first, even though heâ€™s been hot the last two months. The simple fact of being two wins behind the others already puts him at a disadvantage, and with some of the new twists to these playoffs, it may be difficult for him to catch up. (Not that that means he canâ€™t win the championship still.)
Which leaves Harvick and Busch. My pick for the most wins this season? Kyle Busch, who I predicted to make the Championship 4 back before the season began. While some of those other predictions may not have aged as gracefully, Busch was always going to be a safe bet. His ability to adapt to changing circumstances and make do with what each individual race offers him is unparalleled in the sport right now, and makes him a threat to win each and every weekend.
I believe Keselowski. I believe Harvick has the best car almost every single weekend. What that team has done this year is amazing.
But as the old adage goes, sometimes itâ€™s better to be lucky than good. Harvick is good. But Busch makes his own luck.
Good luck beating that.
Race: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series GoBowling at The Glen.
Distance: 90 laps, or 220.86 miles.
Where: Watkins Glen International, a 2.454-mile asphalt road course in Watkins Glen, New York.
When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Last yearâ€™s winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Also this week: Zippo 200, Xfinity Series, Watkins Glen International, 3 p.m., Saturday, NBC.
Worth mentioning: This will be the last road course the Cup Series drives until Charlotteâ€™s Roval in late September.
Kyle Busch: Not to be outdone by Kevin Harvick, Busch tied the No. 4 with his sixth win of the season at Pocono.
Erik Jones: Jonesâ€™ season has really taken off since his first career Cup win at Daytona, including another Top 5 last weekend.
Brad Keselowski: Back-to-back finishes outside the Top 30 have dropped Kez to seventh in the standings, which is … fine. Too bad fine doesnâ€™t win championships.
Bubba Wallace: Another DNF isnâ€™t what he or Richard Petty Motorsports want to see, but Wallace should be grateful he was able to walk away from Sundayâ€™s intense, dangerous wreck.