The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs fires up this weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

 The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs fires up this weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

It’s finally that time of the year again as the road to Ford Championship Weekend begins on Sunday. As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the playoffs commence with the drop of the green flag this weekend and culminate here at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race on Sunday, November 17.

I’m excited for the intensity and level of urgency that comes along with the playoffs. For the 16-driver playoff field, every race is important as each round of the playoff consists of only three races. That means that one mistake during any round can ruin a driver’s hope of winning the coveted championship. On top of that, a victory in any race guarantees a driver a spot in the next round. So just as fast as someone can be heading home, they can just as quickly propel themselves into title contention.

With a field of drivers that features six past Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title winners, the 2019 playoffs are sure to be entertaining as the 16 playoff drivers vie for the right to be crowned a champion.

The playoff field is headlined by Kyle Busch, who finished as the regular season MENCS champion for the second consecutive year. Busch won his 200th career NASCAR race earlier this season and, as has been the case the last couple of years, he enters the playoffs as one of the favorites to win the championship.

Of course, you can’t mention Busch without making note of the fact that the remainder of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates will be joining him in the playoffs. Along with Busch, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr. have combined for 13 wins and the JGR quartet have clearly been the class of the Cup series this season. 

While JGR may have the most wins of any team, Team Penske isn’t far behind as the playoffs commence. Their trio of Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and reigning champion Joey Logano are all in the 16-driver field once again and are hungry to deliver back-to-back championships for their NASCAR Hall of Fame owner Roger Penske.

The rest of the field is made up of a mix of veteran drivers and young up and coming talent. As far as veterans, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman are all among the playoff drivers and their many years of experience may give them an edge as the playoffs progress. This is especially true for Harvick and Busch, who have both won a title in the past and know what it takes to hoist the trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway at the end of the season.

On the younger side of the garages, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson round out the field. Both Elliott and Larson have made the Round of 8 in recent years, and Bowman drove to Victory Lane for the first time in his careers earlier this season. While a driver under the age of 27 hasn’t won a championship since Jeff Gordon in 1997, the aforementioned drivers have really come a long way the last couple of years and could make some noise before it’s all said and done.

As much as we talk about the drivers, it’s important not to forget all the tracks that are a part of the playoffs. The playoff schedule features a variety of tracks that will provide different types of racing each week for the fans. From the unpredictable high banks at Talladega to the beating and banging at the paperclip in Martinsville, each track does a tremendous job of putting on an

exciting show for the fans.

So as the playoffs begin this weekend, there is sure to be plenty of fireworks on the journey to Ford Championship Weekend. I can’t wait to see the storylines that unfold and to see who will be a part of the Championship 4 and battle it out on NASCAR’s biggest stage during the Ford EcoBoost 400 on November 17.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, September 15 at 7:00 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Saturday, September 14 at 7:30 PM (ET)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Friday, September 13 at 9:00 PM (ET)

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series World of Westgate 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio 90

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

Sep. 13

Fast Lane Friday

Sep. 14-15 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)

Sep. 21

Give Back at the Track

Sep. 21

Craft n’ Draft 5K

Sep. 28-29 Championship Cup Series (CCS)

2019 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 15

Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship Race

Nov. 16

Ford EcoBoost 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Series Championship Race

2020 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Mar. 20

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Race

Mar. 21

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race

Mar. 22

NASCAR Cup Series Race

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