From Truex to McMurray, meet the 16 drivers chasing the title trophy
Not surprisingly, Truex and Larson sit atop the playoff standings entering the opening race of Round 1, the Tales of the Turtles 400 (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network). Truex is 20 points in front of Larson.
Larson spent much of this week talking about why Truex is the playoff favorite, an argument that isn’t difficult to make.
“Martin’s is by far the best car,” Larson said. “We obviously have work to do to get to where he’s at. But I think we’re right there. We’ve just got to do everything right, not make any mistakes and hopefully don’t run into any bad luck.”
Larson said it’s unlikely that Truex suddenly will slow down over the season’s final 10-race stretch, which consists of three three-race elimination rounds and a four-driver winner-take-all finale on Nov. 19.
“He’s still going to win probably two or three races, at least, of these next 10,” Larson said. “We’ve got to do what we can to win some races, as well, and give ourselves a good shot.”
Truex realizes he has the biggest target on his back as the playoffs begin but said anything can happen.
“The way the system is set up, I don’t know that you can have a favorite,” he said. “This has got to be the toughest championship in sports to win, without a question. With the eliminations (after each of the first three rounds), with one race for the championship at the end, especially.
“You’re not out there one-onone. There’s 39 other cars, and you’re racing against three of them (at Homestead).”
Despite being the regular season’s big dog, Truex said status quo won’t win the championship.
“I think we’ve been consistently one of the best cars all year, and we’ll need to continue that,” he said. “To do that, we’ll need to find some more (speed). Everybody’s doing everything they can to step it up in these next 10 races, and we’ll need to do the same to keep up.”
Truex said the two Kyles (Larson and Busch) are his top concerns “just because of the speed they’ve had. But you never know who’s going to step up and find that speed and come out of nowhere.”