This season is officially a wrap. Congratulations to Martin Truex Jr. on his first ever Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. The final race of the season was held last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race was a very fitting way to end this season.
The championship four consisted of Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski. If you don’t know the format of the finals, it is as simple as the driver with the highest finishing position of the final four, wins the championship. Points from previous rounds do not carry over and it is a level playing field for the final race.
All four of the drivers that were eligible to win the championship qualified inside the top 10, so I had a feeling before the race started that it was going to be a close finish. Truex started second, Busch was in third, Keselowski fifth, and Harvick ninth.
Once the race started, Kyle Larson emerged as the favorite to win it all, winning the first and second stage. Larson really dominated the race until the very end. Only four drivers led laps this race as Larson led 145, Martin Truex led 78, Kyle Busch led 43, and Brad Keselowski led one. It’s pretty fitting that Martin Truex led 78 laps, given that his car number is 78. It seems like that was meant to be. The closing laps of the final stage is when things got very interesting. The two cars that emerged as the two favorites to win the championship were Truex and Busch. After some strategy came into play, Truex was in first and Busch was in second, on fresher tires, and closing in on Truex.
It was obvious at this point that someone was going to have to win the race to win the championship. Busch closed the gap to less than a second with around 10 laps to go and it really looked like he was going to get by him. But then Kyle Larson caught up with the two leaders and seemed to have a faster car than both of them.
When Larson caught up to Busch’s back bumper, he couldn’t get a good enough run to get by and he didn’t force anything. I gained a lot of respect for him because he definitely could have fought harder and maybe bumped Kyle Busch to get by, but he didn’t do anything which could have ruined Busch’s hopes for a championship. Larson actually managed to get to Busch’s back bumper and instead of passing him, bumped him and pushed him down the backstretch. I feel like that was Larson’s way of telling Busch, “I’m not going to get in your way, go try and win the championship.”
The final 10 laps or so was Busch trying everything he could to get by Truex, but he never could. Truex crossed the finish line to take the win and just under a second behind him was Kyle Busch to take second.
Winning the race allowed Martin Truex Jr to win his first ever top-level NASCAR championship. And not to toot my own horn or anything, but I did close my last article by saying that Truex was going to win this race and the championship. I feel like having Truex win and Busch come in second was the perfect scenario to end the season, given that Truex was just a little bit better than Busch all season.
There are many storylines going into the offseason for some big names that I will address in an upcoming article. But for right now, congratulations to Martin Truex and the 78 team and we have under three months until the Daytona 500. Bring on next season.