Despite three wins at major races and 13 top 5 finishes, Joey Logano entered NASCAR’s final race on Nov. 18, 2018, as the underdog. His solid season couldn’t compare to the Big 3 – Martin Truex Jr. (four wins, 20 top 5s), Kevin Harvick (eight wins, 23 top 5s), and Kyle Busch (8 wins, 22 top 5s).

But when the checkered flag fell that night in November, Logano was under it, sealing the championship. He led the race’s final 12 laps, leaving the Big 3 to take the next three slots.

Race purists complained that NASCAR rules that create a post-season and championship race kept Logano in the running, despite Busch’s massive points. However, Logano’s win last year and the dominance of the Big 3 show how competitive the sport is. So far this year, Busch, Logano, and Harvick are No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3, with Truex at No. 7.

Tiny margins separate the elite teams, and the difference between a win and a loss comes down to driver skill, pit-crew strategies, and the quality of the car’s components.

Robert Schoenberger rschoenberger@gie.net

On the following pages of Today’s Motor Vehicles’ 2019 Racing Supplement, we look at that last part – how manufacturing technology providers support racing. All it takes is a few tenths of a second for a good driver to outrace a dominant Big 3, and the right component, machined on the right equipment, with the right tools, can offer that edge.