Joe Gibbs Racing has three shots to win the NASCAR Championship
With winter coming, NASCAR's been staying south. The series has just travelled to Texas and Phoenix as the season comes to a close, and now to Homestead-Miami for the final, championship-deciding race. It's the end of a long season, and four teams are excited at their chances to be Champion.
It's also the last time this track will host the final race of the season. Starting next year, Phoenix gets that distinction. However, as for the past seventeen years, four of the best drivers look to Miami to be crowned champion. And three of those four are run by Joe Gibbs Racing.
Martin Truex Jr. had locked in his shot in Miami the first chance he got with a win in Martinsville. Denny Hamlin moves up with a necessary win this week at Phoenix. Kyle Busch got the final transfer spot on points. Those three JGR drivers will race against the lone outsider, Stewart-Haas's Kevin Harvick.
This is the first time one team has had so many drivers competing for a championship in since this format was implemented. Team owner Joe Gibbs, also a Pro Football Hall of Fame member for his tenure coaching the Washington Redskins, was elated. Caught up with after the race, he said "I'm emotional today; still am. This is going to be a wild week, and I think it's going to be an unbelievable race."
He also addressed the Championship race move from Miami to Phoenix for 2020, saying that “What’s been done here, I think it’s phenomenal. This is a big deal for our racing series.” ISM Raceway has put incredible effort to prepare to host, with ISM Raceway President Julie Giese saying in a prerace meeting that “this community is champing at the bit to get to work on your championship. I get calls every day asking ‘how can I be a part of it?’” Gibbs said: “What’s been done here, I think it’s phenomenal. This is a big deal for our racing series.”
Not everyone was so happy after the race, though. Defending champion Joey Logano won't get a chance to defend his title. Joey Logano needed only to beat Kyle Busch to get into the final spot, or for no new winner to win. However, neither of those happened. Despite a very strong car in the beginning of the race, a change after a pit stop that the team couldn't get a hand on for the rest of the race left him fading back to a finish of ninth.
When asked after the race if he was disappointed not to have the chance to defend his title, he said quietly, “It hurts. It’s not what you fight all year for, to finish fifth.”
Logano may not be happy coming in to Homestead-Miami Speedway, but the JGR team definitely can be. They've got a great shot at the title, if they can hold off Harvick.