The Championship 4 has been set.
Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick knew going into Phoenix they would be racing for a championship. For Truex, it will be his second shot at a championship at Homestead while Kyle Busch returns for a third time. Kevin Harvick is also making his third appearance in four years.
The final spot goes to Brad Keselowski, who survived an eventful day. A 16th-place finish and the ill fortune of his competitors earned Keselowski a berth at Homestead for the first time under this format.
Here were the reactions from these four drivers after the Can-Am 500.
Truex: “Definitely excited about the position we’re in, to go to Homestead. Feel like we’ve got a lot of momentum, we’ve got a lot of consistency in our team and doing all the right things right now. Excited for Homestead, and hopefully go down there and get our first championship. Ready to go.
“I don’t think it’s any extra pressure at all [of his competitors already having championships]. I have a lot of respect for all three of these guys. Two of them were in the final four when I made it in 2015. Definitely have a little bit of experience in this position. Honestly, just excited about the opportunity. I feel like we’re in a whole lot better spot as a team than we were the first time we had a shot at it, and we’re going to go out there and just do the best job we can do. I’ve got a lot of confidence in our team right now and what we’re doing, and I think today was a perfect example of that for us, so just keep doing what we’re doing, go down to Miami and just have fun and do what we know how to do. Do the best job we possibly can and hopefully come out on top.”
Busch: “As far as momentum goes, we had a dismal week last week – we had two tires flat under yellows that kind of hurt us and put us behind all day. We had a really fast car I thought. We should have finished probably about fourth, fifth, something like that, so if you call that a fifth and today a seventh, we’re moving forward with that. That’s all we had for them these two weeks, so we’ll concentrate on what we need to do in Homestead and hopefully have a really good piece down there and make sure that we can go race for this championship. That’s what it’s all about.”
Harvick: “It means a lot, especially this year, switching everything from our manufacturer to Ford, and just seeing the steady climb of performance and peaking as the playoffs started and running good on really every racetrack that we’ve been to. This has by far been our best round, all three top fives and a win, so it’s the right time of year to be peaking. I feel really good about our mile‑and‑a‑half program.
“Homestead has been a great racetrack for us through the years, and hopefully we can go down there and contend. I think you’re really, really happy with where you are just for the fact of I think as a company we know what we went through and kind of playing on house money at this point, so we’re going to go down there and wing it, see what happens.”
Keselowski: “Just feel glad to make it through today and have a shot next week. You never know how these things are going to play out. Certainly, would be a stretch by any means by how we ran today to say we’re the favorite, but we are glad to be there, and you never know how those races are going to shake out. On to next week.
“Just sometimes things happen that you just don’t understand why for good and for bad. Obviously, it wasn’t good for Denny [Hamlin] or for Chase [Elliott], it was good for us. I don’t know why things opened up this way. I don’t know why in the past two or three years the doors have closed in strange ways …
“Really the last three years we’ve broken parts that should never break and been eliminated out of this whole format with much faster cars than we’ve had this year. Who’s to say? It’s just part of the ebbs and flows and how racing smiles on you and frowns on you at times.”