HOMESTEAD, Fla. – It’s inevitable. Since NASCAR created the Championship 4 format the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title has come down to the wire between all four competitors.
It happened again in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400.
A late-race caution brought the quartet of Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch all to pit road and back on track to settle the title between themselves. When it was over it was Logano ahead of the other three for the victory and the championship.
The Team Penske driver has morphed from the skinny kid earmarked for stardom known as “Sliced Bread” to a Cup Series champion but it hasn’t been an easy journey by any means. Scuffles along the way with a number of high profile drivers including Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. to name a few have made Logano a somewhat surprising polarizing figure.
It’s hard to figure given his happy go lucky mood, seemingly constant smile and tireless off-track charitable work. But actions for many fans speak louder than anything in auto racing and Logano’s have triggered the mixed response.
Logano does have legions of fans. But no doubt he’ll be called many things by those still not enamored with the 28-year-old driver.
But after Sunday they will be forced to refer to him with one word – champion.
- There wasn’t as much side-by-side racing across all three national ties during this edition of Ford Championship weekend than past years but ending the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway is still a solid destination for NASCAR. The 1.5-mile track provides drivers with options to run a variety of grooves and at least the opportunity to find what works best rather than a single line around the track. The weather all weekend was ideal, something rare around most other parts of the country come mid-November. I understand the need to shake-up the schedule and freshen up the calendar but leaving Homestead as the season finale makes absolute sense.
- The powerhouse that is JR Motorsports was again the story in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race. Tyler Reddick gave the organization back-to-back titles with its No. 9 entry following William Byron’s championship last year. Ironically, Reddick will move on to Richard Childress Racing in 2019 to take the ride driven by Daniel Hemric this season as he transitions to the Cup Series. JR Motorsports will also lose Elliott Sadler to retirement while welcoming Noah Gragson into the fold next season in its quest for three straight crowns.
- The amazing story of Hattori Racing Enterprises and Brett Moffitt reached a crescendo Friday night with the Camping World Truck Series championship. Moffitt put an exclamation point on a truly impressive season by winning the race and a title for a team that several times during the year was on the brink of going under due to the lack of sponsorship. Against the odds the driver and organization persevered. Sadly there are no guarantees for either Moffitt or Hattori’s team, once again spotlighting the difficult team business model. It would be tough to swallow for both the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series teams to fold due to lack of funding.
- NASCAR president Steve Phelps met the media prior to Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 for the annual “State of the Sport” address. While several issues could not be answered emphatically including the byproduct of last week’s announced intentions for NASCAR to purchase International Speedway Corporation (ISC), the session featured a measured and steady hand by Phelps. It was a far cry from recent year-end media availabilities that at times ventured into an argumentative and defensive atmosphere. There are many things on the horizon that will shape the sport’s future and it will be interesting to watch Phelps and his vision lead NASCAR in the coming years.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.