For one final time this season, the boys of NASCAR’s Cup Series fire the engines for the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to race four hundred miles to see who will be crowned the champion. It has been an incredible season, and now four of the best drivers to ever do it will have a shot at the trophy.
Denny Hamlin started on the pole, but it was Kevin Harvick with the fast start. He jumped out front and quickly moved away from the field. Martin Truex Jr. was able to move past Hamlin into the second-place position, and he quickly tracked down Harvick in the lead. On lap 21, Truex Jr. made the pass on Harvick as Harvick was losing some long-run speed.
On lap 36, green-flag stops began to filter through. Harvick and Kyle Busch both came down first with Hamlin and Truex Jr. following on the next lap. Truex Jr. cycled back into the lead with now a four-second lead over the field. Truex Jr. continued to increase his lead as the rest of stage one ran green. With no one contending for the lead, Truex Jr. easily won the first stage of the race.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – It was Kyle Busch’s championship evening at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday, but it also had a distinctive feel of being a J.D. Gibbs’ kind of achievement.
Team owner Joe Gibbs’ oldest son J.D. was president of the Joe Gibbs Racing team and an omnipresent positive vibe in the NASCAR garage for more than a decade. Typically smiling and joking, but also ultra-competitive, the team won four previous Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships under his leadership and won hearts because of his enduring positive spirit.
J.D. Gibbs passed away on January 11 at the age of 49 after a valiant and lengthy fight against degenerative neurological disease. His passing and its effect on the 2019 season has been simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-strengthening.
The Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway often is decided by a short run to the finish. That’s was part of the game plan developed by driver Kevin Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers.
Unfortunately for the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team, the entire third stage was run without caution, and the final 101-lap green-flag run prevented Harvick from using the short-run speed built into his Ford.
Starting second at the beginning of the race, Harvick streaked ahead of polesitter Denny Hamlin and led the first 20 laps before eventual race runner-up Martin Truex Jr. ran him down. After a restart on Lap 13, Harvick again went to the point and stayed out front for 13 laps but couldn’t hold the position.