This is the way it is supposed to work. The team that put together the most wins all season won the title. Martin Truex, Jr finished with the most wins (8 including Homestead) and the most top 5 and top 10 finishes. He also had 6 DNFs, so that shows you just how good the 78 was.
It was close for Kyle Busch as he dogged Truex over the closing laps. Once Busch got past Joey Logano, some racing he was not happy about, he cut into Truex’s lead quickly and at rimes was on his bumper. But Truex kept moving his line and was able to stay in front of Busch, and even increase his lead from time to time.
While Logano raced Busch hard, clean but hard, Kyle Larson had the chance to try and win the race in the closing laps. He had a very fast car and had won the earlier stages. But whether out of respect for the two drivers battling it out or by a request from NASCAR not to spoil their Game Seven moment, he chose to ride right behind Kyle Busch watching in case the two wrecked each other and he could coast in for the race win. Whatever the reason, it was a class move for a guy that I am sure was dying to get another win after the disastrous end to his season.
This will be remembered as quite a year. Dale Earnhardt, Jr did not have a great finish again due to a flat tire but he was in the race until the end. But the tributes to him were not only emotional, they were all genuine. Danica Patrick announced her retirement and she crashed out with a blown right front tire early in the race. It seemed fitting for her as she has struggled a lot with mechanical issues and just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The same could be said for Kasey Kahne as he leaves Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne drove right into the rear of Danica as she pounded the wall thus ending his day. Danica may return for a brief shining moment next season as Chip Ganassi is floating the idea of having her run in the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500. Stay tuned for that.
Matt Kenseth was sporty all race long and ended up 8th in his final race. A fitting end after his win last week.
In recent years, NASCAR has seen a great talent drain. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Earnhardt, Danica. There will be a lot of new blood in the sport as next years crop of rookies comes in and more is expected of Blaney, Elliott, Suarez, Larson, Jones and the Dillon brothers. It will be up to Stenhouse to prove that this year was not a blip and that he should be contending in the playoffs year after year.
Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch have to see the writing on the wall and after a mediocre year, both drivers will have to step up their game. Jamie McMurray had a decent year but he didn’t win. He will need to show Chip Ganassi that he belongs in that car for another contract.
And Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus had a very off year with bad qualifying efforts, 7 DNFs to go with their 3 wins and 10th place finish. Decent by many standards but not by theirs.
I gave up watching the annual awards ceremony a long time ago but I think this year will be fun to watch considering all the changing faces and the exceptional win by Truex. We will miss these familiar faces, people who we welcome into our home every weekend. People whom have almost become family. We’ll still see Earnhardt in the broadcast booth but it won’t be the same. Danica will pop up every now and then. Maybe the Danica haters will calm down a bit. Maybe not. In any case, NASCAR is changing and we will have to change with it. There are a lot of young drivers and a new crop of wily veterans that want your support. A lot is riding on their shoulders.
In case you missed it, William Byron won the Xfinity title by 5 points over Elliott Sadler. Byron makes his way to JGR in 2018 and Christopher Bell beat Johnny Sauter by 1 point to take the truck Camping World crown. Fitting champions one and all.
Enjoy your off-season and thank you for reading. I’ll still write in the off-season, just with a few more breaks here and there. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.