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“Big 3” hold final 3 Playoff positions

Kurt Busch walks during driver introductions for the 2018 Pocono 400. (Tyler Head | The Racing Experts)
Kurt Busch walks during driver introductions for the 2018 Pocono 400. (Tyler Head | The Racing Experts)

Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick all hold the final three transfer positions into the Championship 4 after the opening race in the Round of 8 Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

Joey Logano clinched his spot to compete for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway after his win in the First Data 500 at Martinsville.

Seven drivers will try to fill the three remaining spots. The most points that can be gained in one race by a driver is 59.

1) Joey Logano (WIN)
Logano’s last lap bump-and-run pass on Truex netted the driver of the No. 22 his second win of 2018 and 20th of his Cup Series career.

This year will mark Logano’s third appearance as a title contender in the Championship 4.

“Now the next two weeks we think about Miami and nothing else,” Logano said. “We have to go there and be ready and be prepared for it. One step at a time. We are going to enjoy this moment first and then we will worry about Miami tomorrow.”

2) Kyle Busch (+46 points)
Busch holds the largest margin over the cutline, held by brother Kurt Busch.

The 2015 Cup Series champion netted 16 stage points en route to his fourth place finish at Martinsville.

“Obviously not the result we were hoping for at the start of the day but it’s a top-five finish despite all of the issues,” Busch said. “So we’ll take it and head to Texas.”

3) Martin Truex Jr. (+25 points)
Truex will have two more opportunities to win during the Round of 8.

Truex led 18 laps at Martinsville, including coming to the white flag lap, before ultimately finishing third with 11 stage points netted Sunday.

“Everybody said we were out, said we couldn’t run good at Martinsville, we don’t run good at short tracks, our team’s shutting down so we can’t make it to the Championship 4,” Truex said.

“Yeah, I’m going to show everybody.”

4) Kevin Harvick (+25 points)
Harvick finished 10th, earning two stage points at Martinsville.

“We had a good day; a decent day, not a great day,” Harvick said. “Lost a few spots there at the end racing Newman. His car gets as wide as his neck there sometimes.

“You know, it is Martinsville and everybody is racing hard and we wound up finishing 10th and we go to Texas and hopefully have a good day.”

5) Kurt Busch (-25 points)
Busch earned 12 stage points and a sixth-place finish. He is the first driver outside the cutline in the championship standings.

“We finished fifth in the first stage, fifth in the second stage and sixth at the end and we probably lost points today,” Busch said.

“That is what the playoffs are about. We had to be a fuzz better today and I don’t even know where.”

6) Chase Elliott (-31 points)
Elliott netted four stage points en route to his seventh-place finish.

“Yeah, it was just really bad, really poor execution on our qualifying effort and better in the race, but not near where we needed to be,” Elliott said. “So, I’m sure we are in a hole and probably going to have to win one of these next two races.”

7) Clint Bowyer (-42 points)
Bowyer finished 21st, one lap down, after a spin in Stage 3 of the race that trapped the drive one lap down. He was the lowest finishing playoff driver.

“Obviously we are disappointed,” Bowyer said. “We struggled all day trying fix our loose car, but we stayed in the top-10 until there at the end when we got spun.

“We lost a lap, and that killed us. We have two races left, and we’ll do our best to win at Texas or Phoenix.”

8) Aric Almirola (-50 points)
Almirola finished 11th, netting one stage point.

“I am just frustrated,” he said. “I thought we had a really good Smithfield Ford Fusion going into today and thought we could capitalize on an opportunity here at Martinsville.

“For whatever reason all of our cars were off a little bit. We didn’t have the speed and grip that we had here in the spring race.”

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Dominic Aragon View All

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