Truex Jr. Powers To Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship

New Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. gives victory cheer atop his car. [Joe Jennings Photo]

New Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. gives victory cheer atop his car. [Joe Jennings Photo]

By Joe Jennings

Homestead, Fla. – The Ford Series EcoBoost 400 focused on the four drivers attempting to win the lucrative Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. And the quartet of Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski gave it their all during the 267-lap season finale much to the delight of the sold-out grandstand and a national television audience.

Flanked by crew chief cole Pearn Truex hoists heavy Monster Cup trophy.  [Joe Jennings Photo]
Martin Truex and his long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex sport winning smiles.  [Joe Jennings Photo]
Martin Truex Jr holds up trophy for Winning the race.  [Joe Jennings Photo]
Furniture Row Racing team celebrates in victory lane.  [Joe Jennings Photo]
Before a huge crowd assembled for pre-race festivities, Brad keselowski, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick gather around the Monster Energy championship trophy.  [Joe Jennings Photo]
Matt Kenseth’s eldest daughter tends to his racing boots.  [Joe Jennings Photo]
Dale and Amy Earnhardt shown during National Anthem activity.   [Joe Jennings Photo]
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew assemble for the National Anthem in a cordoned-off area.  [Joe Jennings Photo]
The four championship contenders pace the field as part of the colorful pre-race action.  [Joe Jennings Photo]
In early race action, Kyle Larson powers into lead over Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse and Brad Keselowski.  [Joe Jennings Photo]

Running together most of the race, the race result wasn’t settled until the checkered flag dropped over Truex, who not only won the championship but the race itself. Taking the lead on lap 217, Truex led the final 50 circuits but Busch hounded the leader throughout, falling short by
0.681 seconds.

And Truex’s never give up attitude prevailed when he put the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota into the winner’s circle.

“It’s unbelievable. To think about all the bad and rough days, this is just overwhelming,” the new champion said. “We just never gave up. We didn’t have the best car and I don’t know how we won this thing. With about 20 to go, I thought we were done. They were all better than me on long runs, so I had to find a way. I found a lane I could use and one that blocked the air they could use; I just found a way.

“I’ve wanted this since I was a little kid. I just never give up. This is unbelievable.”

Said Busch, “It wasn’t quite what we wanted at the end. It came down to not having enough tire when I got to the 78, as I had overused my stuff.”

Kyle Larson finished third with Harvick fourth and Chase Elliott fifth. Trailing the front-five were Joey Logano, Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, pole winner Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman.

Truex became the 32nd different series champion and the first New Jersey driver to do so. In 2017, Truex posted eight wins, 19 top fives, 26 top 10s and three poles.

For Barney Visser’s Furniture Row Racing team, it was the first championship as it was for crew chief Cole Pearn.

Sharing the spotlight with the four title contenders was Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was closing out his full-time Cup career. Starting last due to an engine change, NASCAR’s most popular driver was never in contention, ending up 25th but accomplishing his goal of finishing the race.

“I told my guys the only thing I care about is finishing all the laps and pulling down pit road, getting out of the car and having a beer with my guys. These are my brothers and we’re very close,” Earnhardt said.

In finishing 21st, Erik Jones won the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.

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