Homestead-Miami Rear-View Mirror

NASCAR

Truex Jr. prevailed, a fitting ending to a season that ended up with eight trips to Victory Lane and a superior regular season that truly pushed him through the playoffs and to the Championship 4 main event. (Photo: Getty Images)

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HOMESTEAD, Fla.- Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 came down to the drivers in the Championship 4 all racing for the win and the title.

It never fails.

The season finale for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title seems to always come down to those in the title picture battling to the checkered flag. The cliché of the “cream always rises to the top” just fits when the Ford EcoBoost 400 rolls around on the schedule.

This years was no different with Martin Truex Jr. outrunning Kyle Busch to the win and title. The other two title contenders Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski were not far behind and near the front of the field most of the day.

Truex Jr. prevailed, a fitting ending to a season that ended up with eight trips to Victory Lane and a superior regular season that truly pushed him through the playoffs and to the Championship 4 main event. The veteran driver’s personal challenges layered into the story of his incredible on track performance created an emotional and satisfying story.

The NASCAR season is grueling and long. But somehow after thousands and laps and miles over a schedule that starts in February and concludes in mid-November, the title isn’t decided until the closing moments.

That happened again in 2017 and nobody should be surprised.

  • There’s no other way to describe Sunday’s race other than it marked the end of an era in NASCAR. When the checkered flag flew on Sunday, it marked the end for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick and Matt Kenseth from at the very least the ranks of full-time competition. Their star power in concert with the already departed Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards in a short period of time coupled with the potential absence of long-time drivers and fan favorites Landon Cassill, possibly Casey Mears and Brendan Gaughan from the XFINITY Series ranks represents a huge overhaul of the sport’s personalities. There is no doubt the young talent bubbling to the surface and in the pipeline will fill the void in the competition department. But superstars and names that transcend the sport aren’t born overnight and cultivating new personalities is now a major priority for the sport.
  • Saturday’s XFINITY Series season finale wasn’t much of a race for the lead thanks to the dominating performance by Cole Custer, who ran away from the field on his way to career win number one. But what a battle for the championship between JR Motorsports teammates William Byron and Elliott Sadler. The duo turned in a scintillating performance for the position that would ultimately lead to the title. Sadler got hung up behind Ryan Preece to allow Byron to pull away and claim the crown. Understandably the veteran driver was upset at the opportunity to win the elusive title slipping away but Preece was racing for third place at the time. One of the unique elements of NASCAR’s playoff format is the drivers in the championship picture have to deal with the challenges within the race and sadly for Elliott and his fans that was something he could not overcome.
  • The Camping World Truck Series championship went to Christopher Bell, the latest driver in the long list of young drivers that have made their name in the sport thanks to Kyle Busch Motorsports. Certainly team owner Busch remains one of the sport’s most polarizing figures. But what his organization has down to uncover young talent and provide them with an opportunity to compete at the highest level should be commended. Bell moves on to the XFINITY Series in 2018 for Joe Gibbs Racing and KBM will look to continue churning out future stars of the sport.
  • Fans will always throw out ideas on where the NASCAR season should end and if the sport should mix up the schedule to finish at different venues. But for my money, it’s a wasted conversation. Homestead-Miami Speedway is the perfect place for the championship weekend. The weather in mid-November could not be better and there aren’t many areas in the country at this time of the year able to provide such pleasant conditions. However, it’s more than that. Homestead remains one of the sport’s most competitive tracks of any kind or layout and it was again on display over the weekend. It truly is the perfect spot to determine the championships in NASCAR’s top divisions and I’m already looking forward to returning in twelve months to do it again.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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