Parks Pit Report: Ford EcoBoost 400

The “Big Three” came up short. Your 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Champion is Joey Logano.

Wow, when you think you know something is about to happen, the opposite takes place.  You all that have read this column since February have heard me talk about the “Big Three” in NASCAR.

Three drivers dominating the season, winning 19 of the 36 races this year, many in dominating fashion.

I knew heading into the Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, at least two of those drivers were going to compete for that title.  Turns out all three made it, and I still was thinking one of them would win the title.

But, championships aren’t settled on a computer screen, nor behind a microphone.  They are settled in a seat with a steering wheel, on the track, against the competition.  Forget the previous 35 weeks, this is heads-up, no funny business, may the first man to the line win it.

So that means expect one of those three to take it, right?

Well…this time, we’re all wrong.  Those gambling in Las Vegas put Kevin Harvick as the favorite, with the other two dominant drivers, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr, right behind.  However, anyone that put money on the No. 22 Ford actually had the biggest pay day of them all, at least outside of Joey Logano.  That’s right, the man that had to hammer and beat his way into the title fight actually pulled it off.

Even I wasn’t expecting that, but when it comes to the final race of the year, drivers will do whatever they can to take charge and get what they want, and if that means racing as hard as they can to prove they belong in the title picture, so be it.

We all knew the three best drivers had an opportunity, but some may have overlooked the thought that the fourth man in the mix had the opportunity as well.

No one is overlooking him anymore, because Logano is the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Champion.  All four of the Championship 4 finished in positions 1-4, as if the fate was actually predetermined, when in reality each had struggles to overcome to get even in position to win.  But, when it mattered most, it was Logano that made the right move, and saw the checkered flag first.

What a way to close out the 2018 campaign.

Next weekend, with everyone still filling up on Thanksgiving leftovers and seeing what deals they can find after the Black Friday chaos that seems to always occur at this time, it will be my close out for this year, where I look back at the big moments of the season, on, and off, the track.

STAGE 1:  Kevin Harvick

STAGE 2:  Kyle Larson

RESULTS:  1-Logano  2-Truex Jr.  3-Harvick  4-Kyle Busch  5-Keselowski  6-Kenseth  7-Elliott  8-Bowyer  9-Almirola  10-Kurt Busch

NOTABLE FINISHES:  11-Dillon  12-Hamlin  13-Larson  14-Johnson  17-Blaney  27-Jones  29-Bowman

CAUTIONS:  5 for 26 laps.  Lap 82-86 (Stage 1 Conclusion); 140-144 (Debris-FS); 162-166 (Stage 2 Conclusion); 194-199 (#42 Incident-T4); 248-252 (#2, 19 Incident-T1).

LEAD CHANGES:  22 among 7 drivers.  D. Hamlin 1-36; M. Truex Jr. 37-39; M. McDowell 40-41; D. Hamlin 42; K. Harvick 43-82; K. Larson 83; K. Harvick 84-86; K. Larson 87-90; J. Logano 91-104; K. Larson 105-117; K. Harvick 118-119; M. Truex Jr. 120; D. Hamlin 121-124; K. Larson 125-147; K. Harvick
148-159; K. Larson 160-163; J. Logano 164-166; K. Harvick 167; J. Logano 168-218; M. Truex Jr. 219-230; K. Busch 231-251; M. Truex Jr. 252-255; J. Logano 256-267.

TIME OF RACE:  3 Hrs, 36 Secs.

AVERAGE SPEED:  133.056 MPH

MARGIN OF VICTORY:  1.725 Seconds

FINAL STANDINGS (Earned/Behind Leader):  1. Logano, 5040; 2. Truex Jr, -5; 3. Harvick, -6; 4. Kyle Busch, -7; 5. Almirola, -2686; 6. Elliott, -2690; 7. Kurt Busch, -2690; 8. Keselowski, -2697; 9. Larson, -2741; 10. Blaney, -2742; 11. Hamlin, -2755; 12. Bowyer, -2768; 13. Dillon, -2795; 14. Johnson, -2798; 15. Jones, -2820; 16. Bowman, -2836.

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