Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick And Brad Keselowski Came Up Short On The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Titleby Benjamin Sanders November 19, 2017
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – In the end, only one driver can be champion and the sickening, dejected feeling of losing a championship weighed heavily on the other three combatants of the Championship 4. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski all came up short of winning a second Monster Energy NASCAR Series championship at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Kyle Busch, 2015 champion, was the biggest challenger to Martin Truex Jr. as the Toyota tandem battled for lap after lap in the final stint of the race. With track position being the name of the game and a determined Kyle Larson stalking him, Busch did everything he could for his team. Busch was sideways on corner exit and threw the car into the corner, but it was to no avail.
“Yeah, it wasn’t quite what we wanted there at the end,” Busch said. “I thought we had a really great race car, especially on the long runs we were really, really good. Just came down to there at the end not having enough tire when I got to the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.), so I just overused my stuff, and I knew I overused my stuff when I was running with the 22 (Joey Logano) trying to get by him and just overworked everything and got to the 4 (Kevin Harvick), got by him pretty quick, I tried to make sure that I could do that pretty quick so then I could have at least a little more tire life, but didn’t seem to pay me off any when I got to the 78.”
Kevin Harvick was strong in the early stages of the race, but after the transition to nighttime, the native of Bakersfield, California struggled to keep up with the dominant Toyotas of Truex Jr. and Busch. Harvick could not make the car consistent enough during the race and conditions changed from day to dusk to dark.
“Yeah, we just ‑‑ it was kind of up and down as far as where you were against the championship guys,” Harvick said. “There at the end, we just got a hole in the nose and had a tire equalize and all kinds of stuff happen right about dark, and we never got it back 100 percent right to really do what we needed to do, really at any point during the run. We were just kind of treading water there. The last run really, really loose. They did a great job. Just really proud of everybody on my team, and they did a great job getting us to this point and having a chance, and gave it all we had right up until the end. Some points were good, some points were bad, and in the end it just wasn’t quite good enough.”
Brad Keselowski, however, is frustrated that he feels that manufacturer parity has edged towards Toyota this season and possibly Chevrolet with the introduction of the new Camaro in 2018. Keselowski compared NASCAR to Formula 1, where manufacturer presence is congruent with success.
“When that car rolled out at Daytona, and I think we all got to see it for the first time, I think there was two reactions: One, we couldn’t believe NASCAR approved it; and two, we were impressed by the design team over there,” Keselowski said. “You know, with that said, I don’t think anyone was really ‑‑ ever had a shot this year the second that thing got put on the racetrack and approved. It kind of felt like Formula 1 where you had one car that made it through the gates heads and tails above everyone and your hands are tied because you’re not allowed to do anything to the cars in those categories that NASCAR approves to really catch up.”
With Ford using the same Fusion as this season, Keselowski is not very hopeful of a more competitive season in 2018. Ford won all four restrictor plate races, but only won two on 1.5-mile tracks.
“As to what will happen for 2018, you know, I don’t know,” Keselowski said. “I would assume that Chevrolet will be allowed to design a car the same way that Toyota was for this one, but Ford doesn’t have any current plans for that,” Keselowski said. “If that’s the case, we’re going to take a drubbing next year, so we’ll have to see.”
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