— #MyChaseNation (@NASCAR) November 17, 2014
Nascar got what it wanted.
The Ford EcoBoost 400 provided three hours of nail biting action, one new champion and several developments that will keep Sprint Cup fans talking this off-season. Here’s a quick breakdown of winners and losers in this Nascar recap of Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400.
Win: Kevin Harvick
Has there ever been a better nickname for a driver than “The Closer”? Harvick needed to win at Phoenix last week and erased any potential doubt about Homestead with Sunday’s win. Harvick led nearly 600 more Sprint Cup laps than any other driver and won five times. Harvick even edged out a Richard Childress Racing car in the final lap to secure the title. It’s not that Kevin Harvick wasn’t a massive name in the sport, but this run helps cement a Hall of Fame case 20 years from now.
Lose: Roger Penske
Team Penske had a tremendous 2014 Sprint Cup season. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano combined for 11 wins, and the team became the new face of Ford Racing in its second season with the manufacturer.
Still Sunday was a letdown. Joey Logano finished 16th, hampered by pit stop drama. Logano is a breakout star and had the year fans have been expecting of him since 2008. However, Logano has yet to have a top-5 at Homestead; it statistically is his worst track on tour. It’s easy to think Logano will find himself back at Homestead racing for a title; he has to find a way for the entire time to overcome the Homestead dilemma.
Then there’s Brad Keselowski, who raced the way he normally races. Fortunately, Keselowski didn’t Jeff Gordon Kevin Harvick’s Chase chances, but he may have melted already thin ice around his Sprint Cup colleagues. Keselowski’s off-season should involve a fair amount of self-reflection, though it may never happen.
Nascar got exactly what it wanted.
- Small teams in the Chase? Check
- Unexpected names contending for the title at Homestead? Check
- A driver consistently in the the title hunt winning the final race? Check
The good news is also the bad news. ESPN handled race week tremendously well. The race coverage was stellar. The Allen Bestwick era paid real dividends.
Now ESPN won’t carry NASCAR. Questions remain as to how ESPN will cover Nascar. This isn’t to say NBC and FOX won’t do great work. But thinking back to old Busch Series racing on ESPN back in the 1980’s, it’s kind of weird to think of NASCAR on another network.
The 2014 Sprint Cup season was quite the ride. Enjoy Nascar’s insanely short off-season, and insert a random catchphrase here.