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Geoff’s Journal: 2018 playoff preview

By Geoff Bodine|

Blaney Elliott Larson Logano
Aaron Farrier | Paradigm Multimedia

Sixteen drivers will be competing for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title and the next 10 weeks will be fun to watch play out.

The level of competition has been really good. Unfortunately, it’s been mainly three or four teams that have dominated this year and the rest of the field racing themselves.

But like we saw at Indianapolis, anything can happen. It looked like both Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin could have had wins in the bag, and in the end, it was neither one of them, but that’s racing.

Mistakes are made every race. And as a driver, you pray that you don’t make a mistake or get caught up in someone else’s.

All the teams have confidence they can run well and advance through the playoffs but factors out of the driver’s control can take them out of contention.

The pit crews also have a lot of pressure because one little bobble can cost a lot of track position and points.

Six drivers in the playoffs have not won yet this year, and those names include Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson—all winners in 2017.

Any of them could win a race in the postseason, but I’m surprised Johnson and his team really haven’t gotten together and pulled off a win. Blaney runs well but something always pops up and spoils his day.

Do I think some of these guys will knock off a win? It doesn’t matter what I think, but do I hope they will? Yes, I hope they all win and end their losing streaks.

With 16 cars trying to advance through the playoffs, it’s really hard to be able to give every competitor a break.

Non-playoff drivers are trying to win and have a good showing for their teams and sponsors.

Playoff race or not, you’re not trying to wreck someone, unless you’re really mad at them.

When it comes to Homestead-Miami and the Championship 4, NASCAR will tell everyone to handle those drivers with “kid gloves.”

A famous saying in the driver’s meeting is “if you’re going to wreck one, you better wreck them all.”

At the finale, everyone will be looking out for those guys. If you’re holding up one of the championship drivers, most of the time you’ll see non-eligible drive cut a little more slack.

Harvick and Kyle Busch are the two that are going to be really strong through the 10-race stretch.

Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski have been looking strong as of late. You really can’t count anyone out. Personally, I’m pulling for Joey Logano.

Geoff Bodine 2018
Franklin Romero | The Racing Experts

It always seems like the top cars run better than everyone else.

They’re not working any harder than they did all year long, and the other teams aren’t working any less at trying to go fast. The top drivers don’t learn something new and the other drivers don’t forget how to drive.

Hopefully everyone will be equal and it will come down to an exciting championship race.

If I had my little crystal ball, I could tell you what is going to happen, but I can’t find it.

I won’t make any specific predictions as to what will happen, but I just hope it’s a great race for the championship.

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