NASCAR’s racing season came to a close last weekend as they crowned new champions in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series.
In the Cup Series, the “Big Three” of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were out-raced by Joey Logano. Busch had the best pit stall, Harvick had the best pit stop under green, and Truex had the best long-run speed, but Logano had the best short-run speed and that was the deciding factor as the race neared its finish.
Once again there was some controversy prior to the start of the race when NASCAR, which has said repeatedly teams should give 100 percent to win and that team orders were a no-no, allowed Denny Hamlin’s team to give Busch a prime pit stall. Busch qualified just behind pole-sitter Hamlin, who had the advantageous first pit stall.
Team owner Joe Gibbs, well known for being a team player, made no bones about ordering Hamlin to give up the first pit stall to Busch. Hamlin made it pretty clear he wasn’t happy with the decision. He had been victorious in each of his 12 Cup Series seasons, but has been winless in 2018. Having the No. 1 pit stall might have led to a victory.
As it was, Busch could not take advantage, and finished fourth.
Each of the four Championship contenders was in position to win at one point during the 400-mile race as they were the top-four finishers. Harvick started 12th and charged to the front to win the first stage. He struggled later in the race when it went from daylight to night, finishing third.
“We had a daytime racecar,” Harvick said. “As soon as it got dark, we never could get our car tightened up there at the end.”
Busch, knowing he did not have a winning car, gambled at the end of the race by staying out on the track while the other contenders pitted for fresh tires. The gamble paid off when a caution flew with 21 laps to go. When the race went green, the four contenders were in the first four positions with Busch in the lead.
Truex soon passed Busch with Logano right on his tail. Logano soon passed Truex for the win and the Cup Championship.
“We did it! We won the championship. I can’t believe it,” Logano said. “I didn’t feel like I was the underdog and we proved why we’re not. This team gave me the car I needed at the end to do my job.”
Logano was the only driver of the four contenders who had not previously won a Championship.
The Xfinity Champion was Tyler Reddick. The Truck Series Champion was Brett Moffitt.