Previewing NASCAR Championship Week

It’s all come down to this.

Three races, three championships to be decided.

All of the team’s’ hard work for the past 35 plus weeks has come down to one final race, this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Erik Jones and Chris Buescher can clinch the title in the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series, respectfully, this weekend. But the Sprint Cup Series is another story, where four drivers are eligible. In this article, I will be previewing all three races in the three premier series this weekend, starting out with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

The Ford EcoBoost 200 will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with the green flag flying around 8:00 p.m. Friday evening on Fox Sports 1. Jones, the championship points leader, has a 19-point lead over BKR driver Tyler Reddick, thanks to his win at Texas Motor Speedway a couple weeks ago. Jones will clinch the title with a finish of 15th or better, regardless of what anybody else does. With a win, he will become the youngest champion in NASCAR history (three premier series). With championship caliber results this season in his No. 4 KBM truck, I think finishing in the top fifteen is a virtual lock for him. Jones will lift the trophy and win the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship with ease this weekend, barring anything crazy happening, which we know can and will happen in NASCAR.

As for the Xfinity Series, the Ford EcoBoost 300 will take place around 2:45 p.m. on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway on NBC. The championship leader is Chris Buescher, who has been leading the series since the early months. He holds an 18 point advantage over defending champion Chase Elliott, and will clinch the 2015 Xfinity title with a finish of 13th place or better, regardless of what anybody else does. Buescher has been a bright spot for RFR in their dismal season across the board in NASCAR, and I think they will be able to look back on the 2015 season and call it a success. Buescher will hoist the trophy and win his first career championship in the sport of NASCAR on Saturday evening,

Now it’s time to preview the big show: the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which will air at3:00 on NBC this Sunday. The only four drivers that are eligible for this weekend’s championship are Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon. Let’s look at how each of them got to the race, how they’ve performed at this track and storylines entering the biggest races of their careers.

 

Martin Truex Jr.

Truex Jr.’s story is one of an underdog, on and off the track. We all remember what happened back in 2013 at Michael Waltrip Racing, when he was disqualified from the Chase due to “Spingate.” From there, everything snowballed.. His long time girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and has been undergoing chemotherapy for some time now. After last season, it seemed  Truex Jr.’s career was on the downward slope, as the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team lacked speed last season.  After a breath of fresh air in Crew Chief Cole Pearn, here they are. A single car team based out of Colorado with only two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins in their team history in the final four competing for a championship with the big boys, and they can win it. He has three top five and seven top ten finishes in ten starts at Homestead and finished 17th there  last season. That team has been money on 1.5 mile tracks this season, which means they’re in a good position heading into this weekend. Would it surprise me if Martin Truex Jr. were to win the championship? No, but he is not the favorite, and that’s how it’s been his entire career. He thrives in these situations, and he’s ready. Truex Jr. will start 11th on Sunday.

 

Kyle Busch

Busch has been behind the eight ball all season, recovering and rehabbing from his broken foot and leg suffered in his crash at Daytona before the NSCS season began. After missing the first 11 races, he was granted a Chase waiver which said if he ranked top 30 in points and got a win, he would qualify for the Chase. He did that and more, winning four races on the season. Given this information and the adversity he and the No. 18 team have had to deal with, winning this championship would be oh so sweet. He has one top five and three top ten finishes in ten starts at Homestead. He finished 39th there last season, but this team has proven they can step up to the plate when needed and I expect them to do nothing less this Sunday. Busch has had the label of being great in the regular season, but not performing in the Chase. Well, look at him now. The lone Joe Gibbs Racing driver eligible to win the championship, and we all know that he is ready to get “Rowdy” if he wants and/or needs to win the 2015 NSCS Championship. Busch will start third on Sunday, the highest out of the four Chasers.

 

Kevin Harvick

Harvick is the defending champion, and won this race last season. In his career at Homestead he has one win (2014), six top five and twelve top ten finishes in 14 starts. We all know how good he has been this season, winning three races and finishing second a whopping twelve times. He has the best average finish at this track and all throughout the season in the No. 4 car. He has a championship team, crew chief and mindset, which none of the other three competitors have besides Jeff Gordon. Harvick probably has the last crazy story out of the four drivers, but if he were to hoist the trophy it would be his second career championship and he would make it back-to-back, becoming the 11th Cup driver to do so. Vegas gives him the best odds, and so does the NASCAR garage and most fans and TV personalities. By winning this race and the championship last season, he will be hard to beat come Sunday evening. Harvick will start 13th on Sunday.

 

Jeff Gordon

What else is there to say about the four-time champion? A win last round at Martinsville, his only win of the season, vaulted him into the final four. Gordon was elated in victory lane, with a chance for him to go out with a bang, winning the last race of his career and closing the book on that legendary career with a championship. He has one win, seven top five finishes, twelve top ten finishes in 16 starts at Homestead. He finished tenth last season in South Beach. If Gordon were to pull this off, it wouldn’t just be one of the coolest stories in the history of NASCAR. It would be one of the most amazing stories in the history of sports. We’re talking John Elway or Derek Jeter, going out on top. If he and the No. 24 team were to win this championship in Gordon’s final season, after a lackluster regular season, it would be an amazing story. No other words. It could be destiny, but we’ll only find out on Sunday. Jeff Gordon will start fifth on Sunday.

It’s prediction time now. All four drivers could easily win the championship. All four drivers have amazing stories on how they got here, why they got here and reasons to win. But when it’s all said and done, I think that we will have a repeat champion as Kevin Harvick will win the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship by winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 over the rest of the championship field.

This race didn’t disappoint last season as the four championship contenders all ran in the top five for most of the race. I think this season will be more of the same and we will see some things that we haven’t seen in a long time in NASCAR.

I can’t wait!