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NASCAR Cup: Martin Truex Jr. wins race, championship at Homestead

Martin Truex Jr. (78) and Kyle Busch (18) race for position during the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Martin Truex Jr. (78) and Kyle Busch (18) race for position during the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).


Martin Truex Jr. had a lot to celebrate Sunday evening at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He claimed his eighth win of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season at the checkered flag of the Ford EcoBoost 400 season-finale, and with that win, he became the 2017 Cup Series champion, his first championship in the series.

“It’s just overwhelming,” Truex said. “To think about all the rough days and bad days, the days that couldn’t run 20th, to be here, I never thought this day would come, and to be here is so unbelievable.”

For the fourth-consecutive year, all four years since the implementation of the playoff elimination format, the championship was claimed with the Homestead race win.

“We just never gave up all day long,” Truex said. “We didn’t have the best car. I don’t know how we won that thing. Never give up. Dig deep. I told my guys we were going to dig dipper than we ever have today, and 20 to go, I thought I was done; they were all better than me on the long run all day long. I just found a way. I found a lane that I could use and I found a lane that was blocking enough of their air that they couldn’t use it and just made it happen. I can’t believe it. I’ve wanted this since I was a little kid and just never give up. Just never give up on your dreams no matter what happens and what kind of crap you go through, and thank you Barney (Visser, team owner). I wish you were here, buddy. Thank you, Johnny (Morris, Bass Pro Shops), all our partners this year. What can I say about this team? Cole Pearn (crew chief), Jazzy, all the road guys, the guys in Denver, you guys are the best, man. They work their guts out for me, and I don’t even know. This is unbelievable, a dream come true. I don’t even know. I couldn’t even talk on the cautions laps, so just really thankful, really grateful, and thank you to the fans. We’re going to party it up tonight.”

The win also cemented a second-straight manufacturers’ championship for Toyota.

“Toyota is fortunate to have a great group of Camry drivers and tremendous team partners that allow us to have success on the race track and win accolades like the Cup manufacturers’ championship two years in a row,” Toyota Motor North America Motorsports General Manager Keith Dahl said. “To be able to win the title in the first season racing the new 2018 Toyota Camry is truly remarkable and displays the effort TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and Calty Design put into preparing this championship-winning Camry.”

Truex finished the race two car-lengths ahead of Kyle Busch. Championship contender Kevin Harvick also finished in the top-five in fourth. The fourth title contender, Brad Keselowski finished seventh.

“We ran as hard as we could and put it all out there and just basically didn’t have enough speed,” Keselowski said. “On the mile-and-a-halves, we weren’t as good as the 78 (Truex) and 18 (Busch) and those guys. This last race coming down to a mile-and-a-half didn’t particularly bode well for us, but my team ran as hard as they could run. They made some great calls, Paul Wolfe and everybody, and put ourselves in position every chance we could to make the most out of the opportunities that existed without just being lightning fast, but it wasn’t there.”

Kyle Larson finished third after leading a race-high 145 laps of the 267-lap race. Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five.

Larson dominated won both of the 80-lap stages that made up the first 160 laps of the race after taking the lead on lap 13. Larson was among those who pitted for tires during the first caution of the race that came out for Joey Gase on lap five. Larson restarted 12th but was able to take the lead in one lap, running 4 mph faster on new tires than the previous frontrunners, who stayed out.

Keselowski utilized the same strategy and soon took second behind Larson. Keselowski was the highest-running championship driver through much of the opening stage.

Throughout most of the second stage, Busch and Harvick battled for second behind Larson, but Truex took second on a restart with 10 laps remaining in the stage.

Truex, then, got off pit road first at the start of the third stage to take the lead. Busch passed him for the top spot with 89 laps remaining.

Busch’s crew chief, Adam Stevens, opted for a pit strategy of dividing the final 100 laps in half and making only one stop, while the other three championship drivers and several others planned two stops, dividing the final stage into thirds. Truex retook the lead when Busch made what was expected to be his stop.

The differing strategies were cancelled out by the fifth and final caution of the race for an incident involving Daniel Suarez, Kurt Busch and Erik Jones with 37 laps remaining. Everyone made one final pit stop under the caution.

Truex was first off pit road and Busch third for the final restart of the race with 34 laps remaining. Kyle Busch eventually got up to second to battle Truex for the lead and the championship, but Truex maintained his lead for the duration of the remaining distance.

Other top-10 finishers included Joey Logano is sixth, Matt Kenseth in eighth, Hamlin ninth and Ryan Newman in 10th.

The yellow flag waved only three times for on-track incidents. The one other wreck came on lap 142 when Danica Patrick hit the wall, and then, Kasey Kahne hit her. Patrick’s car caught fire, but both drivers emerged unhurt.

“I hit the wall in three and four and got some fender rub on the tire, and it blew the tire,” Patrick said. I went a couple of laps and there was smoke in the car, but they thought it was all right, but it wasn’t.”

Sunday’s raced capped off Patrick’s final full-time season of competition. It also punctuated the final full-time seasons for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth. Earnhardt was 25th at the finish, while Patrick was 37th after her early exit from the race.

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Posted by on November 20, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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