The reigning champion didn't get a chance to defend his championship. Johnson suffered many struggles down the stretch and was eliminated from the Chase prior to Homestead. Unfortunately, his struggles didn't end at Homestead. The No. 48 Chevrolet was a handful all day long, and Johnson would scrub the wall more than once. The damage would slow the pace of Johnson and he'd finish a sub-par 27th, three laps down to the leaders. The Hendirck Motorsports star finishes 2017 10th in the final driver standings.
It was an uphill battle for the No. 2 Ford team in terms of the championship. Keselowski was at a speed disadvantage and he knew it. The Penske Racing star would offset that early in the race with some creative pit strategy, and would stay out during the first round of pit stops to grab track position. The strategy would work for a while as Keselowski would stay near the front for the first-half of the race, but eventually he'd fall back. Seventh-place was the best he could muster at the end of the day, and it would be his 21st Top-10 finish of the season. Keselowski finishes fourth overall in the final point standings.
The Stewart Haas Racing star did his best to contend for the championship Sunday at the South Florida oval. Harvick didn't have the speed to get to the lead, but he'd run second to the leader a few times during the race. The driver of the No. 4 Ford had the right pit strategy, but simply didn't have the speed to push up to the front and challenge Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch. The fourth-place finish was his 14th Top 5 of the season, and Harvick finishes the year third in the final point standings.
Larson shook off a four-race DNF streak, and thrust himself into the picture to possibly win in the season finale. The driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet was trying his best to upstage the championship contenders and win this 400-mile race at HMS. Larson led 145 laps and set the pace most of the afternoon, but pit strategy late in the event would not play in his favor. He would hustle back to the front over the closing laps and salvage third-place for the day. It was Larson's career-best 15th Top-5 finish of the season and he ends the 2017 campaign eighth overall in the final driver standings.
The No. 18 Toyota was the only car with the speed at the end to challenge Martin Truex Jr. for the win and championship. Busch led 43 laps, mainly in the second half of the event. He would try to track down Truex over the final green-flag laps, but would come up just short. He would finish second to Truex by just a couple car lengths. It was Busch's 14th Top-5 finish of the season, and he finishes second in the final driver standings as a result.
Hamlin edged Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the fastest lap of Saturday's morning session. The No. 11 Toyota looks strong after winning pole qualifying. Hamlin is poised to crack the Top 5 in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400.
Hamlin upstaged the championship contenders and turned a great lap in the third round of knockout qualifying. He edged Martin Truex Jr. to grab his second pole position of the season and 26th of his Monster Energy Cup Series career. Hamlin should crack the Top 5 in Sunday's season finale at Homestead.
The Toyotas looked strong in this opening session. Busch led the way, followed closely by Martin Truex Jr. in his No. 78 Toyota. The Joe Gibbs Racing star is focused like a laser beam on the championship right now, and he'll be a top contender to win Sunday afternoon in the season finale.
Patrick will step away from full-time NASCAR competition following this weekend's season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, although she plans to compete at next year's Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, with the Indy race being the last of her career. She stated that she was grateful for all the many opportunities and that it was an "honor" to compete at the highest level of racing. During her Cup career, Patrick has earned seven top-10 finishes, including a career-best sixth-place finish in Atlanta in 2014.
It would be a shocking reversal of fortunes for the No. 11 JGR team. Hamlin would lead a whopping 193 laps and set the pace most of the day. However, he would fall into the clutches of Chase Elliott over the closing laps. The two would engage in a fender beating battle for position, and Hamlin would come out on the short end of things. First he would lose the position to Elliott, then laps later he'd lose a tire after the contact with Elliott. Hamlin would go crashing hard into the outside wall and it would be the end of his day. The DNF was his fourth of the season, and it eliminated Hamlin from the Chase for the Cup playoffs.
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