Three Champions Started the Race but Four Finished at Homestead
Only three former NASCAR Cup Champions and 28-year old Joey Logano had survived the past couple of months of eliminations to duke it out in south Florida for final event in the Chase for the Championship. As the green flew over Homstead-Miami Speedway for the Ford EcoBoost 400, all four drivers drew a bead on each other as the race for the 2018 Championship was on. When the tire smoke settled on Sunday, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Team Penske-Pennzoil Ford, had claimed his first NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series championship.
When the championship round got under way, the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch, the 2015 NASCAR Champion and winner of 51 Monster Energy Cup races; the #4 Stewart-Hass Racing Ford of Kevin Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR Champion and winner of 45 Monster Energy Cup races; the #78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota of Martin Truex, Jr., the 2017 NASCAR Champion and winner of 19 Monster Energy Cup races; and Logano watched pole sitter Denny Hamlin take the early lead. For Truex Jr., it was his final drive for the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing Toyota, as he will join Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing for 2019.
Kevin Harvick claimed the bonus points for winning Stage One, but after leading most of the closing laps for Stage Two, Harvick was passed at the line by non-championship contender Kyle Larson who was competing for the event win at Homestead. As the final stage of the season got under way, each of the championship contenders had looked set for victory at various times during the 400-mile race. With laps running out, Kyle Busch had fallen off the pace due to two bad pit stops but a renewed hope came when a late-race caution allowed all four drivers to restart up front.
Busch and Truex Jr. surged to the lead of the 15-lap shootout with Logano and Harvick in hot pursuit. With 13 laps left in the championship run, Logano ran the bottom of Turn 1 to take the lead and pull away from the other contenders. Truex Jr. finished in second followed by Harvick and Busch. All week, when being interviewed, Logano had talked about the "three champions and me"... now it's "we four champions" as Logano gave the Captain (team owner Roger Penske) his third Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Championship. Congratulations go out to the entire #22 Pennzoil Team for a great season topped off by three NASCAR Cup wins and an impressive run for the crown.