Entering Homestead, the Championship 4 was labeled as one of the best fields of four we have ever seen. Sunday’s race was proof that the label wasn’t false as all four championship contenders had a chance. The feud between Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. was rekindled at the end and ended the same way it did at Martinsville in October with Logano in Victory Lane.
Logano earned Roger Penske his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and helped give Ford its first since 2004 with Kurt Busch. With the championship victory, Logano earns the top spot in our Power Rankings but how did the rest pan out?
1. Joey Logano (+2)
Logano finally earned his first career NASCAR championship Sunday by defeating Truex late in the race. Logano had a powerful Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion on Sunday, leading a race-high 80 laps. If he hadn’t led the final 12 laps of the race, Logano would’ve watched the champion celebrate from pit road. The powerful move on Truex late was what landed Logano the championship.
2. Martin Truex Jr. (+2)
Truex was one position away from hitting that walk-off home run to send Furniture Row Racing into the sunset with a championship. It was a strong season for the driver of the No. 78 and it was capped off with his best finish since Watkins Glen in August. Truex is headed to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019 and it could result in a good combination.
Asked what it’s like to climb out of the 78 for the last time, an emotional @MartinTruex_Jr said, “I’m not sure yet to be honest with you. I don’t know, I’m going to miss these guys. Wish we could’ve won it. We had it, we just couldn’t go for 15 laps. #WeAre78 pic.twitter.com/XLilj8VKYi
— FalciAdaptiveMotorsports (@FalciAdaptive) November 18, 2018
3. Kevin Harvick (-2)
The dominant season Harvick had was enough to earn him a spot at Homestead, but there weren’t many positives at Homestead. The No. 4 team landed a third-place finish and ending the season third in the championship points. It’ll be interesting to see if he can pull the same amount of dominance he had last season.
“Really, it was a great pit call there in position to win the race if the caution doesn’t come out & we came down to a pit stop & a restart & we didn’t do either good. I just hate it for all our guys on our @JimmyJohns Ford.” https://t.co/5WEBefH8xI@KevinHarvick; 3rd in 2018. pic.twitter.com/ZuFONt4eKO
— Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) November 19, 2018
4. Kyle Busch (-2)
Busch’s own pit crew put him in a bind twice in Sunday’s race. The final stop was when the organization landed him the lead, but he couldn’t hold off the other three playoff drivers and finished fourth. It’s his worst finish in the points standings since 2014 where he finished 10th. Who knows what the No. 18 team can do in 2019 with Cole Pearn and Truex on the same team instead of on separate teams?
Bummed for all of our guys, Adam Stevens n my guys did a phenomenal job. This @mmschocolate Camry team was really, really good – just not good enough on the night we wanted the most.
— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) November 19, 2018
5. Chase Elliott (+1)
Three career victories all coming in 2018. The year was nowhere near a failure but Elliott was able to represent Chevrolet in a time when they really needed a leader. The Hendrick organization had a lot of change in 2018 which could make things very interesting in 2019 when the organization is making even more changes.
It could be amazing to watch Elliott enter the season with the momentum he had toward the end of this season.
Thank you to all of our fans, the media and our partners.
— No. 9 Team (@Hendrick9Team) November 18, 2018
6. Kurt Busch (-1)
It’s very sad to see Kurt Busch leave Stewart-Haas Racing. He’s been a staple member of the organization since 2014 and recently has been pulling a good amount of success behind the No. 41. It would’ve been very interesting to see what would have happened if he would’ve entered Sunday’s race with a chance at winning the title.
22 top 10’s and the year end Busch Pole award! Thankful for the year we had, most proud of our 41 crew, and @BillyScott_41. Thanks @StewartHaasRcng @MonsterEnergy @Haas_Automation! Congrats @FordPerformance and @joeylogano on the Championship! pic.twitter.com/mXpvBcmK2m
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) November 19, 2018
Aric Almirola put the No. 10 car in places we haven’t seen in a very long time. Scott Riggs and Johnny Benson were the last two drivers to really put that car in competitive places.
Almirola earned his career-best points finish of fifth and added on to his career-best amount of top 10s on Sunday with his 17th top-10 finish of the season.
What a year! I'm so proud of this team. Our first year working together and we finish 5th in points. 👊 We're just going to keep getting better and better. Can't wait to see what we accomplish in 2019!#SmithfieldRacing pic.twitter.com/8iRASsKXlV
— Aric Almirola (@Aric_Almirola) November 19, 2018
It was an interesting season for Keselowski who didn’t earn his first victory until September at Darlington. Keselowski landed Penske two crown jewel victories that team owner Roger Penske had yet to earn but didn’t compete for the championship like in years past. Keselowski will have a new spotter in 2019 as Joey Meier will not be on the stand for the No. 2 car.
Thank you for everything you’ve done for my family and the #2crew
This is only a new chapter in one heck of a book we are writing together. 😊👍🏻🏁 https://t.co/yrbNPhXvAK
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) November 19, 2018
9. Kyle Larson
Larson was about to prove to everyone that he wasn’t going to just let anyone win the race at Homestead. He rode the wall most of the race until that wall came too close. He ultimately lost a tire as a result of the contact, putting the No. 42 out of contention for the victory. Larson will have a new teammate in 2019 and it’ll be interesting to see what’ll happen with that organization next year.
I’ll also forever be thankful for the years I got to spend with @jamiemcmurray as my teammate. As a rookie to Cup racing in 2014 there’s no one else that could have been a better mentor than him. He’s a great racer, person, but especially an amazing father to 2 awesome kids! pic.twitter.com/bfMAnuAIyf
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) November 19, 2018
10. Matt Kenseth (NR)
Kenseth didn’t earn a win in what could be his final two career races but he did earn two straight top-10 finishes in the No. 6 car, extending his streak of top 10s to 21 years, every year of his career. It is good to see some good things headed in the right direction for that team in a year that was otherwise forgettable.
Ryan Newman moves into this car next season and it will be interesting to see what will come of the new driver.
— Roush Fenway (@roushfenway) November 19, 2018