2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Picks and Predictions – Championship Favorites: Although this isn’t really an off weekend for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with the All-Star Race being held at Charlotte Motor Speedway, there aren’t any points on the line in the exhibition event. With that in mind, it is perfect time to take a look at which drivers have separated themselves from the pack so far in 2019 and appear to be the frontrunners for the championship.
Yes, there is still plenty of racing left to be done, and while someone always seems to get hot later in the year, NASCAR’s addition of playoff points rewards drivers for being strong throughout the regular season. In the two years playoff points have existed, we have seen a couple of drivers pile up enough points to essentially coast into the championship race at Homestead. Based on the results from the first 12 races of the 2019 season, a similar scenario is unfolding this year.
Take a look at the drivers who I feel have already established themselves as the guys to beat for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series crown.
2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Picks and Predictions: Championship Favorites
Busch has been on fire to open 2019, piling up a series-best 11 top-10 finishes in the first 12 races. He is also tied for the series lead with six top-five finishes and three wins, and Busch leads all drivers with a 7.1 average finish and 20 playoff points. His driver rating is by far the best in the series, and he leads the series in a majority of the scoring loop categories, including fastest laps run and laps spent in the top 15. At this point, Busch is just racing for wins and more playoff points. As well as he is running, he could have his spot in the Championship 4 nearly guaranteed before the postseason even begins.
This current version of Keselowski is definitely the most dangerous for the rest of the competition. He is running well just about every week, and he’s capitalizing on every opening to pick up wins. His three victories are tied for the most in the series, and his 17 playoff points are the second most. Keselowski also leads all drivers with 689 laps led, and he has led laps in nine of the 12 races this season. The combination of his consistency and ability to pick up wins is going to come in handy during the playoffs, but at his current clip, he is going to have enough playoff points to cost through to the Championship 4 anyway.
He currently sits atop the point standings thanks in large part to some impressive consistency. His six top-five finishes are tied for the most in the series, and Logano’s eight top-10s and 8.9 average finish both rank second. Logano also owns the second-best driver rating, and he ranks third in laps led, leading laps in 10 of the 12 races in 2019. Perhaps most importantly, he is one of just five drivers with double-digit playoff points at this point in the year. The defending series champ is well on his way to challenging for back-to-back titles.
Luck hasn’t been on his side this year, but Harvick is still showing championship-caliber speed on a weekly basis. He currently sits third in the standings, and his eight top-10s are tied for the second most. Granted, he still hasn’t won a race and has only compiled three playoff points, but if you dive deeper into the scoring loop data, it is easy to see that Harvick stacks up with the rest of the elite options. He ranks third in driver rating, second in fastest laps run and first in green flag speed. It is only a matter of time before he starts sealing the deal and picking up wins. I expect Harvick to be positioned just fine for a title run by the time the postseason rolls around.
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