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If Chevrolet teams figure it out, will Kyle Larson be the championship favorite?

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If the Chevrolet teams can figure it out in the near future, will Kyle Larson be the favorite to win the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series championship?

It is not a secret that the Chevrolet drivers have struggled mightily through the first 17 races of the 36-race 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season. They have combined to earn just one victory, and that one victory was earned in the season opener, the Daytona 500.

Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon won that race in his #3 Chevrolet. Of the 16 races that have taken place since then, eight were won by Ford drivers and the other eight were won by Toyota drivers. Three Ford drivers and two Toyota drivers have combined to earn those 16 victories. No Chevrolet driver has won a non-restrictor plate race so far this season.

When will a Chevrolet driver win another race? That is a question that has been asked for much of the first half of the season. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson has come close to answering that question multiple times throughout the season in his #42 Chevrolet. In fact, many people thought it had finally been answered yesterday afternoon in the Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Larson is currently the highest ranking Chevrolet driver in the championship standings. He sits in ninth place in the standings with 524 points. No other Chevrolet driver is even in the top 11. He trails points leader Kyle Busch by 212 points, and would have 544 points and trail Busch be just 192 points had he not been given a 20-point penalty following the race at Kansas Speedway in mid-May.

Through the first 17 races of this season, Larson’s average finish is 12.9, which is actually better than it was last season when many people considered him a lock to qualify for the Championship 4 before issue after issue in the round of 12 of the playoffs prevented him from even being able to advance to the round of 8. His average finish last season was 13.3.

Larson has had a stellar start to this season by this season’s Chevrolet standards, and that stellar start has included several results that very easily could have been victories. He finished in fourth place in the race at Kansas Speedway, third in the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and second in the races at Auto Club Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Chicagoland Raceway.

If Chevrolet teams can figure it out and Larson can find himself in victory lane a couple of times throughout the rest of this season, should he be considered the championship favorite?

There are obviously still plenty of drivers whose seasons have been better than Larson’s has so far. After all, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer have combined for 15 victories so far this season.

However, none of those drivers are Chevrolet drivers, so if Chevrolet teams can improve to the point where their drivers, and not just Larson, are competitive on a far more regular basis than they currently are, Larson should have a great chance to get to the Championship 4 unless he experiences the amount of misfortune that he experienced in last year’s playoffs in this year’s playoffs.

If Larson does get to the Championship 4, there isn’t a driver in the field who wants to deal with him running the high line at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

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If the Chevrolet teams manage to figure it out before too late in the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season, will Kyle Larson be the favorite to win the championship?



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