Homestead Winners and Losers
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on November 18, 2013 | 9:49 A.M. EST
Denny Hamlin got to celebrate Sunday with a post-race burnout at Homestead-Miami Speedway following his season-ending victory in the Ford EcoBoost 400. (Photo: Getty Images)
HOMESTEAD, Fla. - A number of drivers went into the off-season happy while others will have a bitter taste in their mouths after Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson - Let the debate begin whether Johnson is the "Greatest Driver in NASCAR History" after his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship. He was able to avoid a curveball or two along the way but at the end of the day, Johnson did all he needed to wrap up the title and has his sights set squarely on the record seven titles of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
Denny Hamlin - The horror story that was 2013 for Hamlin at least ended on an up note after his win on Sunday. There have been many years in Hamlin's career where the final checkered flag of the season couldn't come soon enough and this was one of them. But he should be someone in the picture next year after scoring a popular win in Homestead.
Matt Kenseth - Even though he didn't win the title, it's hard to call Kenseth anything but a winner after the kind of year he had in 2013. He ran near the front of the field all day Sunday and came up only one position short of victory No. 8 this season. Kenseth's move to Joe Gibbs Racing proved to be the most successful decision of his NASCAR career.
Martin Truex Jr. - The embattled Truex is right next to Hamlin in terms of drivers who would, for the most part, like to forget their 2013 seasons. The good news for Truex is after the Michael Waltrip Racing scandal and missing the Chase, he landed a new ride with Furniture Row Racing and punctuates his season with a fourth-place finish.
Brad Keselowski - There wasn't any ESPN SportsCenter beer drinking moments in Homestead this year, but Keselowski at least made an impact in the closing races of the season despite missing the Chase. After his Nationwide Series win on Saturday, the Penske Racing driver bounced back with a top-10 Sprint Cup performance.
Kevin Harvick - Although he was a championship long shot at best, many thought Harvick would end his Richard Childress Racing career with a better effort than Sunday's. He struggled with an ill-handling car all day and even after some pit strategy and adjustments from crew chief Gil Martin, was only able to hang on for a 10th-place finish.
Paul Menard - Was involved in one of the scariest moments of the season when his car literally exploded after a fire blew out one of his rear tires. In addition to Johnson's championship and Hamlin's win, Menard cemented his SportsCenter highlights inclusion.
Kurt Busch - The Cinderella season ended with an anti-climatic finish by Busch, who - after starting on the outside of the front row - was never a factor and struggled to a 21st-place finish. Still, 2013 will be remembered as one of Busch's most impressive season performances.
Juan Pablo Montoya - Ended his NASCAR career with a very non-descript 18th-place finish. You can't help but think what might have been for Montoya's move from open wheel to NASCAR. But for a variety of reasons, it turned out to be an overall disappointment.
Travis Kvapil - Talk about your challenging seasons. In addition to his personal issues, Kvapil and the BK Racing team had more on-track misery than perhaps anyone else in the series in 2013.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.