NASCAR to crown Cup Series champion at season finale

Martin Truex Jr. right and Joey Logano

There were no tears shed as Martin Truex Jr. climbed from his No. 78 Toyota after the final ride of Furniture Row Racing.

Of the four drivers in the Chase, Logano has the longest odds. Last year, it shook out for us and this year it didn't.

Brian France was charged with drunken driving in August and has been on leave from his family business. Brett Moffitt won the Camping World Truck Series title Friday.

Kyle Busch will have the coveted No. 1 pit stall as he races for the NASCAR Cup championship Sunday after Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin and pole victor passed on the spot.

"We got stubborn and stuck in our ways [last year] and we felt like this is what worked because we nearly won the championship the year before and we were the fastest vehicle down here".

"Every individual on that team is the best at their position and they showed it today", Logano said.

And while many around the sport looked at Logano seemingly as damaged goods by 2012, it was legendary team owner Roger Penske who made a decision to take a chance on him. Among the other highlights? After 35 years with the Motor Racing Network, Joe is retiring.

Truex advised tuning out the noise. I think you've got to study all that. Everything about it has been the best thing I've ever been a part of. Brad Keselowski won the final two races of the regular season and then the playoff opener at Las Vegas. The team is closing because it lost its primary sponsor midway through Truex's championship reign.

History says that Joey Logano shouldn't have won the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series title.

"It's great to have the No. 1 pit stall for the race and I appreciate the teamwork by the guys on the 11", Busch said. "There's no question about it". Busch and Harvick ended the season with eight wins each, while Truex had four. "What else are they doing?'" Busch wondered. The team also is shutting down after the finale because of sponsorship troubles.

Harvick thrives in controversy and doesn't expect that to change Sunday. "It's insane to think that I'm living out my dream".

"Not everyone gets to push a race auto to its limits, whether it's at the local level or here in the top level".

Hamlin will have a new crew chief in 2019 too. Sunday's last restart was with 15 to go.

When the playoffs started, Logano wasn't even the Team Penske driver people had pegged to challenge Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. for the championship. Johnson has seven, and none of his current peers has more than one Cup title.

Harvick was third and Busch fourth as the title contenders followed each other across the finish line. He led 58 laps early in the race - with interim crew chief Tony Gibson calling the shots for suspended crew chief Rodney Childers - but soon saw the sun set on his championship push. But Gibbs decided this one and had Hamlin choose the second-best pit stall with his first selection. Busch certainly has the ability to earn the victory.

"Anything like this always stops with me", Gibbs said. Oh my God, they gave me the auto I needed at the end to do my job.

As the Big Three weaved through their individual issues, Logano just went fast.

-Jimmie Johnson went an entire season without winning a race for the first time since become a full-time Cup driver in 2002. But Logano kicked it into another gear to steal the title. That felt like a distant hope over the weekend even though the final race of the season typically has a late caution.

"He's been there. He's been consistent".

"Lots of wins", Busch said.

It's a possibility, though, because all four drivers excel at intermediate tracks like Homestead. He had just two top-five finishes throughout the entirety of this season.

The Team Penske driver had no illusions for the first half of the year of winning the title. Reports have indicated the France family wants to sell some or all of NASCAR, and last week NASCAR made a move to buy all the public shares of sister company International Speedway Corp. The inspection process continues to be fine-tuned and Harvick's illegal spoiler has forced the sanctioning body to take a hard look at how it can curb the rampant cheating that teams do under the guise of "pushing the envelope" or "finding gray areas" of the rulebook. "This year it cost us the championship". You know, I feel good about my future and going to a great place, and I know we'll have more success.

"We were so bad tonight on the racetrack and on pit road that nothing was kind of going our way".

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