The Final Word – Homestead sees the end of the Junior era, as another Junior wins it all

by Ron Thornton On Mon, Nov. 20, 2017

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, celebrates with crew chief Cole Pearn and the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

It was an amazing two weeks. In that time, Kevin Harvick locked his way into the final four, along with Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. We got to see Matt Kenseth win, spoil things for Chase Elliott, and allowed Brad Keselowski to round out our championship contenders. During that time, I was among eight family members enjoying 80 plus degree temperatures in Hawaii.

I know you did not click in to let me reminiscence about our time in paradise, but I do have one question. When did WestJet, what had been a very special, passenger orientated airline, become just like Air Canada? It appears that if you want to fly the friendly skies in comfort these days, you need to be Leonardo DiCaprio winging his way to Europe on a private jet to pick up an environmental award…but I digress.

Less than 24 hours after arriving back to the land of snow and ice, once again I could witness palm trees and 80 plus degree temps under the sunshine as NASCAR wrapped up its season in Homestead, Florida.

Of course, more than four would have our attention. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in his final race as a full-time driver, though by the end of the second stage he was outside of the top twenty. Danica Patrick will be in the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 next season, but she failed to make the end of this one when she crashed out. Kenseth’s career might be coming to an end, and after winning last week he concluded this campaign with a top 10 result. As for the next face of the sport, Elliott finished fifth at Homestead, giving in him a top 15 in 10 of his final dozen events. His time is coming, and right soon.

All that was left to decide was the championship, and all four contenders were in the top five heading down the stretch. Keselowski faded to seventh, while Harvick would wrap things up in fourth. That left a duel between Truex and Busch. Truex held the lead as the laps counted down, but Busch had pit strategy working in his favor. Well, he did until his brother Kurt brought out the caution with less than 40 laps remaining.

Busch remained within a second of his rival from that point onward. However, the closest he got was 0.20 seconds…as they crossed the line. Martin Truex Jr. won his eighth of the season, just the 15th of his career, to become the 2017 Cup champion. It is his first, and the first for team owner Barney Visser and Furniture Row Racing out of Denver, Colorado.

It was a satisfying conclusion to the season. As for the broadcast, well, you cannot win them all. In 2007 I was part of another group of family members who flew in to watch the Daytona 500. Harvick beat out Mark Martin at the line while Clint Bowyer ended the race on his lid. It was an amazing experience. We flew in on WestJet, even watching the Duels run live on the television provided for each and every passenger. It was an amazing experience. That was in 2007. Those were the days of “how bad have you got it.” I sure miss those days.


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