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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

Harvick Following in Truex’s Dominant Footsteps

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Martin Truex Jr.’s dominance emerged as the story of 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season as he won a career-high eight races and captured the championship.

Stage racing success contributed to the No. 78 team’s prowess as they collected nearly triple the number of playoff points compared to other teams in the regular season.

This advantage almost automatically advanced Truex Jr. in each post-season round and allowed him to pull away with a substantial points lead.

He easily made the Championship 4, entered Homestead-Miami as the favorite and came home with Furniture Row Racing’s first title.

Running well throughout the first 26 races acted as a key to success for the organization, and other teams will look to replicate that strategy in 2018.

Kevin Harvick is making an early case to follow in the No. 78 car’s tire tracks, winning three consecutive races dominantly.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver led the most laps at both Atlanta and Las Vegas, winning five of six stages in those events.

While he didn’t show as commanding of a performance at ISM Raceway, he still reached Victory Lane and remains the driver to beat.

The field chased Truex Jr. for most of last season, and now Harvick has assumed that role after just four races, despite being handed an L1-level penalty following Las Vegas.

He lost seven playoff and 20 regular season points after the Pennzoil 400, will be without his car chief for two races, and crew chief Rodney Childers was fined $50,000.

A similar penalty negatively impacted Joey Logano’s team after Richmond in 2017 as they failed to recover and missed the playoffs.

However, Harvick bounced back stronger at his best track on the schedule in Phoenix and may not face the same fate. 

Early indications point to the No. 4 team emerging as the favorites in 2018, and that should keep the field on edge after seeing what Truex Jr. accomplished last season.

Stage victories ultimately aided the No. 78’s championship run and Harvick could find himself in a similar position by continuing to perform at this pace.



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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.