Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of four stories examining why each driver could win the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.
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Joey Logano will win the 2018 championship because …
He will do whatever it takes to make it happen, and deal with the consequences later.
Logano is arguably the nicest guy in the sport outside the car — Nielsen’s fan-perception measurement ratings have him ranked as the most “wholesome” of the Championship 4 — but behind the wheel, with the helmet on … well, he has a way of getting under the skin of his competitors. And then taking advantage.
Now, the rest of the Championship 4 is comprised of some of the most headstrong drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but Logano has had fiery run-ins with all three of them over the years. They would love nothing more than to win the championship, but seeing Joey Logano lose, well, that’s gotta be a close second for Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.
That plays directly into Logano’s hands, as any one of the three of them could be over-aggressive in their quest to see him fail rather than them succeeding.
But even still — it’s not like Logano absolutely needs the “Big 3” to falter. He has the ability, car and momentum to beat them outright — something that would have seemed far-fetched to consider during the first half of the season.
Nobody in the series could keep up with the Nos. 4, 18 and 78 the first 64 percent of the season, as the trio combined for a ridiculous 17 race wins in the first 23 events.
Since then, Logano has not only kept up with them, he’s been flat-out better, at a time that counts more.
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Logano crashed out at Watkins Glen, finishing dead last, but in the 13 races since he’s averaged a finish of 8.77. Take out the wreck at Phoenix this past weekend, in a race that didn’t matter for him, and that number shrinks to a minuscule 6.42.
Over that same time span, his competitors fared worse, posting numbers below their respective season-long averages — Harvick (10.08/9.0), Busch (10.46/8.4), Truex (14.15/11.0).
It’s no secret the ‘Big 3’ has tailed off a bit to close the season, while Logano and his No. 22 team have gotten consistently stronger.
At exactly the right time.