The Championship four at Homestead Miami Speedway did not disappoint.
Four hundred miles is what separated the top four racecars from a Cup Series title.
One car was slow; one car had smoke coming from the hood of the engine; the other had the tires placed incorrectly on the car; however it was the one car with large M&Ms covered on it with the number 18 that won.
Kyle Busch won his second NASCAR Cup title.
Busch won the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to end a 21-race losing streak and beat Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and rival Kevin Harvick for the Cup. Busch joined seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson as the only active drivers with multiple titles.
Joe Gibbs Racing lifted their fifth Cup title and closed out a season in which the Gibbs cars finished the year 1-2-3 at Homestead. It was Busch, Truex Jr., and Erik Jones across the finish line for Gibbs. Coincidently with Hamlin winning the Daytona 500 Gibbs cars opened the season 1-2-3 at the Daytona 500.
“There is always your doubters,” Busch said. “There’s always your haters. You know what, this one’s for Rowdy Nation because you guys are the best.”
“Everybody always says you never give up. We’re no different. We do what we can do each and every week. Sometimes we may not be the best; sometimes we may not have the right track position. Today we had a really good car, and I could race around and move around.”
The 34-year-old is the 16th driver in NASCAR history to win multiple championships and one of only five to win titles in both the Cup Series and the second-tier Xfinity Series.
The first position belonged to Hamlin. It helped him start well however he fell out of position to win because a large piece of tape placed across the front of his car caused his engine to overheat. Hamlin had to make an unscheduled pit stop to remove the tape, but it was too late.
“I feel like I did all I could,” Hamlin said. “We are going to celebrate out the year. It was a great year.”
Hamlin didn’t have enough time to overcome the gamble and finished a depressing 10th place. He is still seeking that first Cup title.
The second position belonged to Harvick. He was the only Ford driver in the championship group. His car was slow and never had anything on long runs for the Gibbs cars and finished fourth.
Harvick went on to finish 3rd in the NASCAR Cup Series standings for the third year in a row.
The third position was owned by Truex Jr., who I picked to win the race. If not for a mistake, my prediction would have been correct. Truex dominated early but fell a lap back after his crew put tires on the wrong side of his Toyota.
“You’ve got to be perfect. One mistake probably cost us the championship,” Truex said. “I’ve never had that happen. I don’t even know what to say. It doesn’t drive good with the left front on the right front, though, I can tell you that. It’s very tight.”
A caution flag helped Truex recover to finish second. He led on four occasions for a total of 103 laps. The 16th-year driver has tallied 26 career victories, 102 top-five finishes, and has placed in the top 10 in 205 races.
The marathon continues.
There were 40 cars in the field, and the race endured three cautions and 15 caution laps. There were 14 lead changes.
Toyota added 40 points to its season total with Busch’s victory. Overall, Toyota ranks No. 1 with 1318 points, followed by Ford in the No. 2 spot with 1268. Chevrolet sits at No. 3 with 1222 points on the season.