By Aaron Burns
A friend of mine moved from Louisiana to North Carolina a little more than 20 years ago. He grew up around race tracks, so when someone invited him to accompany them at a local race track, he took them up on it.
But it wasn’t what he was accustomed to. In North Carolina, a race track is where stock cars compete. In Louisiana, it’s where horses race.
NASCAR, though, may as well be a two-horse race. It’s been Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and everyone else. Sure, Jimmie Johnson won at Atlanta and until he finished last on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was always in the top five.
But no one challenges Harvick, the series’ defending champion, like Logano. And no one challenges Logano quite like Harvick.
It doesn’t matter if it’s on Saturday or Sunday, apparently. Harvick won an XFINITY Series race at Atlanta. Logano responded by dominating Saturday’s XFINITY event at Phoenix.
Harvick won again on Sunday at Phoenix.
Maybe they get bonuses for every win they record. But at this point, is it really a bonus? It’s almost expected. Harvick and Logano have been a step ahead of their challengers in nearly every week, at every sort of track and under all sorts of conditions.
It’s no shock that Harvick has been so strong. Some of the circuits that dot the early-season schedule, like Daytona, Atlanta and Phoenix, read like a list of Harvick’s strong suits.
Oh, and he won at Las Vegas, the tour’s other stop – in a rout.
Logano captured his first Daytona 500 victory about a month ago, and has been stalking Harvick whenever he’s not in front of him.
If you’re not a fan of the two drivers, maybe the beginning to this season has been a bit boring. But NASCAR is about innovation. Whoever figures out rules packages first usually finishes there, too.
This year, it’s been Harvick’s Chevrolet and Logano’s Ford. Can they keep it up for the whole year?
Like most horse-racing gamblers, I wouldn’t bet against the favorites. And at this point in the season, it’s obvious who they are.