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Byron, Hemric Emerge as Early Title Favorites

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Succeeding under the current Chase format requires a balance between winning and performing consistently. Excelling in one area often doesn’t make up for lacking in the other, proving that it indeed takes a masterful performance to be crowned the champion.

The Camping World Truck Series will award its title under a Chase format for the first time this year. While Truck Series competitors have never competed under a playoffs system, they can take note on how to approach the final seven races from the Sprint Cup Series. 

In 2014, Kevin Harvick captured his first career Sprint Cup Series title by winning three races in the Chase, including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last year, Kyle Busch was crowned the champion by consistently scoring top-five performances and only winning a single playoffs race as he scored the victory at Homestead-Miami.

While their approaches differed, they earned the same result. This leaves the door wide open as to how Truck Series drivers will handle the Chase for the Championship.

The two drivers who sit atop the Truck Series drivers points standings following the regular season highlighted these varying approaches during the regular season

William Byron has been stout this season as he collected a rookie record five victories. He broke through for his first career series victory at Kansas in May and then went on to win at Texas, Iowa, Kentucky, and Pocono.

He reached Victory Lane often but lacked the consistency of some of his competitors. He scored five top-five runs in the first ten races of the season including four winning performances. In the other five events, he finished outside of the top-10.

However, he has turned it around as of late as he captured four consecutive top-10 finishes ahead of the regular season finale, including three straight top-five runs.

Two crashes and a 30th-place result at Chicagoland doesn’t provide much momentum heading into the Chase. However, this Kyle Busch Motorsports team will look to return to their winning ways with a championship on the line.

Daniel Hemric’s approach to the regular season differed from Byron’s. The Brad Keselowski Racing driver didn’t score a victory but accumulated the same amount of points as Byron.

Hemric used consistency to pave his path to the playoffs, despite not being locked into the Chase until Chicagoland. Overall, he scored 13 top-10 finishes in the 16 regular season races, including eight top-five results.

He has also finished in the top-three in the last four races, contributing to the momentum he will carry into the Chase.

He nearly captured his first career victory on Friday night at Chicagoland as he battled Kyle Busch in Overtime and reached the defending Sprint Cup champion’s bumper, but was unable to make the pass.

The regular season performances from both competitors make them title favorites heading into the Chase. Both paths to the championship have proven successful at the Sprint Cup level, but only one will prevail as the Truck Series embarks on its inaugural Chase.

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Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.