In sports, two of the biggest key factors to be successful are momentum and consistency. Particularly in sports with lengthy seasons such as baseball, where teams play 162 games, staying consistent all year can go a long way. A team who is steady throughout the regular season has a significantly better chance to make the playoffs than a team who experiences many highs and lows from game to game.
However, once a team makes the playoffs, their regular season success moves to the back burner and the focus shifts to winning one game at a time in pursuit of a championship. In the National Football League for example, teams face being eliminated from the playoffs every time they step onto the field during the postseason. Because of the NFL’s unforgiving playoff format, a team could be the most consistent all season, but run into a team with more momentum at the time and get eliminated from the playoffs.
We saw this scenario take place earlier this year in the Super Bowl. The Philadelphia Eagles managed to gain momentum by winning big in the first two rounds of the playoffs. They then faced off against the steadiest franchise in football, the New England Patriots, in the Super Bowl and came out victorious, proving that getting hot at the right time can lead to a championship.
Over the years, the NASCAR regular season and playoffs have also been a testament of consistency versus momentum. Since the whole season spans from February to November, it is important for drivers to perform at a high level week-in and week-out if they want to make the 16-driver playoff field.
But just because the most reliable and dependable drivers lead the charge into the playoffs, it doesn’t mean that they’re guaranteed a championship. In NASCAR’s playoffs, winning a race guarantees that a driver advances to the next round.
With the first three rounds of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs consisting of only three races each, it is easy for any of the 16 drivers to catch fire and ride a wave of momentum deep into the playoffs. Of course, the Championship 4 here at Homestead-Miami Speedway is a one-race shootout, so by the time the field is narrowed down for our race, anything could happen.
As the 2018 MENCS playoff field has dwindled from 16 to 12, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick continue to pace the field. All three of the aforementioned drivers easily made it out of the playoff’s Round of 16. Through the first race of the Round of 12, Harvick, Busch and Truex sit first, second and third in the playoff standings respectively. While it appears as if all three drivers will be advancing to the next round, the championship conversation shifted to another driver this past weekend.
Chase Elliott captured his second career victory at Dover International Speedway last Sunday, becoming the first driver to secure his spot in the Round of 8 and inch ever closer to a MENCS championship. While his win at Dover was his first visit to Victory Lane in the playoffs, Elliott has been as hot as any driver over the last three playoff races. Before winning at Dover, Elliott placed fourth at Richmond and sixth at the Roval. He is the only driver to score top-6 finishes in each of the last three races, and he’s hoping his momentum will carry him far beyond the Round of 8.
If Elliott manages to stay hot, he could come to Homestead-Miami Speedway next month with a MENCS title on the line. At that point, he’d likely run into drivers like Busch, Harvick or Truex who have been performing at a championship level all season long.
That’s part of what is so great about Ford Championship Weekend here at our Speedway. Any of the Championship 4 drivers are capable of hoisting the trophy on Sunday evening. Whether it’s a driver like Elliott who’s gotten hot at the right time, or someone like Harvick who has been an elite performer all year, the only thing that matters when NASCAR visits us in South Florida is how a driver performs during a single race. Thirty-five races, thousands of points, and three playoff rounds later, the entire season comes down to one thing – the Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race.
NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND
Sunday, October 14 at 2:00 PM (ET)
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
Tune In: NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch.90
Saturday, October 13 at 1:00 PM (ET)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fr8Auctions 250 at Talladega Superspeedway
Tune In: FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch.90
UPCOMING EVENTS AT
October 13-14 Formula & Automobile Racing Association
October 20-21 Porsche and BMW Owners Club
October 26 Fast Lane Friday
October 26-28 Driving 101 NASCAR Racing Experience
October 29 Miami Exotics Auto Racing
2018 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES
Nov. 16 Ford EcoBoost 200 Camping World Truck Series Championship Race
Nov. 17 Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race
Nov. 18 Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy Series Championship