Martin Truex Jr. Wins Ford EcoBoost 400 And Championship At Homestead-Miamiby Camille Jones November 19, 2017 0 comments
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Martin Truex Jr. won it all after taking the checkered flag in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, naming him the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion.
Truex’s victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway was his eighth victory of the 2017 season with his Furniture Row Racing No. 78 team that’s based out of Denver, Colorado, the only team based in the Centennial State to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.
“It’s just overwhelming,” said Truex. “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.”
Truex added and said, “I can’t event believe it. I can’t believe we got the lead. I can’t believe we kept it. We weren’t the best car all day long. We fought it. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) had some great pit strategy and the caution came at the right time to get us the lead and then they put it in my hands and I had to hang onto it. It’s all I could do to hang onto that thing and find a lane that would work for me and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and the 18 (Kyle Busch) were both better on the long run all day long. I just had to find something at the end and luckily was able to find a lane that was really good for my car, but also bad for them behind me and just worked out.”
The race was an up-and-down event for Truex. His car was fast enough, but he wasn’t making the powerful statement that the No. 78 team usually makes.
Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 CreditOne Bank Chevrolet blistered the field, opening a lead of over seven seconds at one point in the race, for the first two stages. Larson took the win for Stage 1 and Stage 2 in the event and ultimately finished third in the race.
It wasn’t until the final caution when Truex showed the pure domination that he has displayed throughout 2017. On lap 217 of 267, Truex took the lead and was able to open up enough distance over Kyle Larson, who was then faced with a hard-charging Kyle Busch, also fighting for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
Busch was able to clear Larson, giving him a shot at running down Truex for the lead, trying to steal it for the race and championship victory; however, Busch never found the steam he needed to close the gap and make the pass on Truex. Time after time, he’d dive to make the pass and come up just short of clearing Truex. Busch fought until the checkered, settling for second in the race and the championship standings.
“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, 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 claimed the third spot in the championship standings after finishing in the fourth position on Sunday. Brad Keselowski was the last of the Championship 4, ending the season with a seventh-place finish.
Erik Jones earned the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year award following Sunday’s event.
The winningest driver of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season won the championship, setting the bar incredibly high on the new Playoff format. Now that teams have a year of the format under their belts, it will be interesting to see who takes on new strategies in order to beat the system in 2018.
The 2018 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway will get underway on Sunday, February 18.
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images