Column By: SHANE CARLSON / RPW – AVONDALE, AZ – The Cup Series continues its West Coast swing this weekend as they head to ISM Raceway, formerly known as Phoenix International Raceway.
Kevin Harvick is coming off yet another dominant performance, but not without scrutiny. Following his win at Las Vegas, his team was penalized and stripped of their playoff points earned from the race. Needless to say, Kevin Harvick is motivated to put on another clinic and claim his third win in four starts in 2018. He’s also an eight-time winner at ISM Raceway.
Looking at the trends of the spring race at ISM Raceway, a Chevrolet has won every race since 2013, but three out of four of those races were won by Kevin Harvick, now in a Ford. Last year, Ryan Newman got the surprise win and punched a ticket to the playoffs.
My Pick to Win is…
No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota Camry
Joe Gibbs Racing
Jones is yet to win a Cup race, but Sunday could be his first. He finished inside the top-10 in each of the two races last year at ISM Raceway. This weekend, he qualified ninth and Toyota is looking for one of their drivers to step up, as they have yet to win a race this year. Jones is driving with more confidence after his rookie season and with a win this weekend, he could set himself up well for a breakout season.
Sunday, March 11
3:30 PM ET
Radio: Motor Racing Network
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings
Post Las Vegas
- Kevin Harvick: He’s won the last two races. That will put you atop the Power Rankings. Last Week: Not Ranked
- Ryan Blaney: After starting on the pole, Blaney led only the opening lap before falling victim to Kevin Harvick. He scored his second top-five of the year and was the highest-finishing Ford. Last Week: 2
- Denny Hamlin: A frustrating day overall last week had the No. 11 team chasing all day. They had to get off-sequence on their pit stops and didn’t get any breaks to help their cause en route to a 19th-place finish. Last Week: 1
- Austin Dillon: Not sure I even heard his name called on the broadcast last week. He finished 13th. Last Week: 3
- Joey Logano: He was strong throughout the entirety of the race, which is something this team had really struggled with last year. Though I think they were a second-place car, Logano and the No. 22 team managed to get a top-10 and remain on top of the standings. Last Week: 4
- Brad Keselowski: He has two finishes inside the top-six in his last two starts. The winner of Saturday’s XFINITY race at ISM Raceway, he’ll be a contender on Sunday. Last Week: Not Ranked
- Aric Almirola: This team continues to impress me. Almirola is having the best season of his career to this point, and keeps himself battling for position inside the top-10 all day. There’s a chance he could get a win or two this year. Last Week: 5
- Martin Truex Jr.: I was a little surprised we didn’t see a little more out of Truex last week. The intermediates were Truex’s bread and butter last year, but he just doesn’t quite seem to have the same speed as he did one year ago. There’s nothing to be concerned about. Last Week: 7
- Paul Menard: This guy is solid. He won’t lead a ton of laps or make flashy moves on the track, but if you need a top-10 driver for your fantasy lineup, Paul Menard is your guy. Last Week: 8
- Kyle Larson: A third-place finish last week was Larson’s second top-10 of the year. He will be a driver to watch this weekend too, as I’m sure he will try to run lines no one else dares to try on the track. Last Week: 9