On Wednesday evening, NASCAR held Championship Media Day at Trump National Doral Miami, a golf resort and spa in Doral, Florida, just outside of Miami. The four championship contenders (Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman) gathered for a series of questions, answers and statements.
ESPN’s Mike Massaro served as the emcee for the festivities. At first, Massaro asked questions to the four drivers one at a time. Naturally, all the drivers are very happy to be involved in the winner-take-all final.
“I think the biggest key for this whole scenario is you’re not behind,” Harvick said. “You’re on even footing with the other three guys. So for us, I think we’ve had a great year. We’ve led a bunch of laps and won races and done what we’ve needed to do, and all in all, it’s just been a great year. Looking forward to Sunday afternoon.”
“It means a lot to be one of the Final Four, and racing for a championship is a dream come true,” Logano said. “Like you said, it’s — obviously, I’ve been through kind of the tougher times and trying to understand what it takes to drive a Sprint Cup car and how to make one go fast and how to race other guys out there, and I was able to do that kind of in the limelight in front of everyone. To be in this position now and on the verge of hopefully winning a championship, like you said, it’s definitely a dream come true. I’ve got a great team behind me. We’ve all been working well together, so we’ll just keep plugging along, doing the same thing we’ve been doing all year, and see where we turn out at the end.”
While the race will be hard fought, there is no reason to believe that intentional wrecking will decide the championship.
“I’ve raced everyone with respect,” Hamlin said. “I feel like respect is something that’s hard to come by in our sport, but it’s not going to take someone wrecking someone to win this championship. You can do it without doing that. And I believe that it’s very possible. It’s just to each his own, I think. Everyone is going to have a different way of doing it, but for me, it’s about going out there and doing your team 100 percent and also not compromising who you are as a person for myself. Each person might be different, though.”
“We’ve been racing each other all year and we haven’t had an issue with each other,” Logano said. “All of us have raced each other up front and all of have raced each other for the lead at some point, and we’ve been fine. Obviously, there’s a lot on the line, and we’ll be racing each other really hard, I’m sure, but we want to be able to win the championship the right way. Obviously, that would be the goal, and obviously all of us have the same common goal out there. And we’re all going to be racing each other, and it’s going to be entertaining to watch, that’s for sure.”
“We want to put on a good race for the fans,” Newman said. “We want it to be interesting and exciting at the same time. You know, if we can finish four wide coming off Turn 4, then that would be great. But we just need to have a good, clean race for all of us, for all of our sakes, before, during, and after the race, which seems to be somewhat of an issue at times.”
The four championship contenders, along with the other 39 Sprint Cup teams entered in Sunday’s Ford 400, will be on the track for practice Friday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. for their opening practice session. Qualifying is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday.