LAS VEGAS — Six drivers in the 16-driver Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff field are past champions of the sport, all vying for title No. 2 in the final 10-race stretch.
The half-dozen hopefuls weighed in on what a second championship would mean to them Thursday at NASCAR Playoffs Media Day, on the eve of on-track activity at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. Their answers were an intriguing mix that touched on their motivations, their legacies and the greater meaning of becoming a two-time champ.
RELATED: Full schedule for Las Vegas
Kurt Busch, 2004 champion: “It would mean the world to me, and to be able to deliver for Ganassi and have (crew chief) Matt McCall and this whole group of guys who have been together for a long time, I appreciate things more now — the teamwork, the team camaraderie, and the chemistry — whereas early in my career when I won at 26 years old, I was like, yeah, it’s all about me. But now I feel like it’s that team effort and I love the way that this team has come together. They’ve looked at me for that guidance and that leadership, but at the same time, we’re just having fun with it and executing as a team, and it would mean the world to me to bring another championship home and to have that Monster Energy Cup next to the old Nextel Cup that I have, it would really be a huge bookend to my career.”
Kyle Busch, 2015 champion: “I’m sure it’s going to mean more than just one. I don’t know exactly what it would mean, but I don’t think two – two would change it over one, but I think when you get to three, it’s not going to be that big of a deal. Then four and five would be huge. That’s kind of what I look at. If I could get a handful of them, I would say that’s probably a successful career. Years ago if you would have asked me that question, I would have said, seven or eight is possible. Right now, probably five I would say.”
Kevin Harvick, 2014 champion (mentioning what it would mean to celebrate with his young children, Keelan and Piper): “For me, those are pretty motivating factors just because of the fact that I enjoy him being around successful moments and them being around successful moments but I also enjoy them being around the moments and try to help them understand, especially Keelan at this point, understand what it took to get to that point because it wasn’t that way at the beginning of the year.”
Brad Keselowski, 2012 champion: “Well, it would be a huge mark for me personally. I think there is a big difference between drivers that have won one championship and two, that is my own personal barometer. There is quite a long list of drivers in the sport now and past that won a single championship. The ones that I think get mentioned or thought of the most are the drivers that have won multiples. Certainly winning a championship is a legacy. Winning a second championship is an elite legacy in the sport. Something I certainly hope to do and have put a lot of emphasis on and probably is the biggest thing I want to do in the sport. That opportunity is in front of us over these 10 weeks.”
Joey Logano, 2018 champion: “I don’t know. I don’t know if your legacy should be totally hinged on championships. It is nice to say you have one and it would be nice to say you had two and it would be nice to say you had seven but I don’t know if that is what really creates a true champion. I don’t know if it is how many you have. It is what you do with it. What do you do with the platform that God has given you? That is what I think creates a true champion and Hall of Famer. When I was asked that question at the Hall of Fame vote this year, that is what I brought up. What is a Hall of Famer? Is it a champion or someone that has done something to help our sport and help everyone in our sport to grow. I think that might be more of a Hall of Fame thing. Do you have to win a championship to do that? No. I don’t know if winning another championship alters your legacy that much if you don’t do anything with it.”
Martin Truex Jr., 2017 champion: “I’m here to win. I really don’t think about those kind of things. If you think about it, it messes with your head. Yeah, I try not to think about those things. I try to go out there and do the best that I can and hopefully have the opportunity to enjoy it someday.”