Truex wins first NASCAR championship
Martin Truex Jr. was crowned the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series championship winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday.
Truex won the Ford EcoBoost 400 and thus was the highest finishing driver among Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.
"I've wanted this since I was a little kid," Truex told reporters after the race.
"Never give up, no matter what kind of crap you go through... This is unbelievable, a dream come true. Just really thankful, really grateful."
Kyle Larson dominated the race early, leading 145 of the first 161 laps but as the sun set, changes to the track added grip and improved speeds for Busch and Truex.
With just under 70 laps remaining, Truex, Harvick and Keselowski decided to pit for tyres and thus extra speed, while Busch gambled to stay out in front on older tyres. The one-pit strategy for Busch left Truex in the lead with 52 laps to go but a caution flag 13 laps later spoiled Busch's strategy.
Truex won the race off pit road and led the field to green with 34 to go. With 17 laps remaining, Busch trailed Truex by a second, but with 10 to go Busch was within 0.60 seconds of the lead. As Truex's lead dwindled, he tried to change his line to keep Busch at bay. It appeared Larson bumped Busch with two laps remaining, increasing Truex's lead to 0.68 seconds at the finish.
Truex's win marks the fourth straight year the winner at Homestead did it to win the Cup Series championship.
The rules were simple: the highest-finishing driver among the Championship 4 contenders at the 400-mile race would win. Just like all season long, there were three stages of racing, but in-race points were not awarded to the finalists.
The win marked Truex's eighth of the season. He finished with 19 top-fives and 26 top-10s.