“Never Give Up.”
A slogan that is most noted by WWE star John Cena. No one would consider that motto to be used when it came to a championship, much less at stock car’s highest level. But, that motto is now a reality.
It was February when a season seemed to be over, seemed to be done before it began. An ambulance ride, and the wonder of everyone now became, “Can he come back?”
After 11 weeks, he did. Then the wonder became “Will he win?” Not only did he win, he did so often. Even after nearly three months away, he fought his way to make it into the Chase Grid.
Never give up.
He survived the Challenger 16, moved past the Contender 12, and made it through the Eliminator 8 to find himself in position in the Championship 4 to make a run at history. All the while, he, nor his team, never gave up. The entire operation that saw three relief drivers now were on the cusp of doing what seemed impossible.
The Homestead-Miami Speedway was ready to see a champion get crowned, while also knowing the end of an era was upon us.
When the checkered flag waved, the one man who never gave up the entire year, from getting back in the car, to winning races, to proving that even after missing that much time, he wasn’t giving up when it was the biggest race of the year.
A broken leg, a broken foot, and sitting in a wheelchair never stopped him. When it was all said and done, only one victory lane was necessary. Your winner of the race, and the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion is…the one who simply never gave up, Kyle Busch.
That win gave a writer the final win on the season, however he was not part of the Championship 4. But it was a solid finish, in a highly competitive race, that did determine the champion of the Fantasy Pool. Here’s your final standings after the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400:
Misan Akuya (5042) Kevin Harvick finished 2nd – 3 (1)
Rob Tiongson (5041) Brad Keselowski finished 3rd – 5 (1)
Dustin Parks (5034) Denny Hamlin finished 10th – 4 (1)
Mary Jo Buchanan (5032) Martin Truex Jr. finished 12th – 2 (1)
Sal Sigala Jr. (2342) Kyle Busch WON – 4 (1)
Patti Rodisch (2320) Jeff Gordon finished 6th – 5
Kara Martin (2299) Jeff Gordon finished 6th – 2
Klarissa Mitchell (2288) Kevin Harvick finished 2nd – 0
Ashley McCubbin (2282) Kevin Harvick finished 2nd – 1
Rob Blount (2134) NO PICK SENT – 2
This year, one of the original Fantasy Pool participants, back when it was on a different site and decided to carry over into the new format, has come through to win the title. For five years of this Pool, it has produced five different winners.
Congratulations to one Misan Akuya.
And with that, the season is over, not just for 2015, but also the career of one driver that has seen it all. All the participants can say they were witnesses to the final race of Jeff Gordon’s career, and saw him go the entire way knowing that he went out the only way he knew how, competitive until the end. After 93 wins, he still had it in him to go for a championship.
Now, the swan song season has concluded, and he walks into the sunset as one of the greatest drivers to step behind the wheel, and one of those that changed the course of who a NASCAR driver could be.
From all of us in this pool, we all can agree that it is #24Ever, and say thank you to Jeff Gordon.
Now, we move to the off-season. The holidays now approach, and we will all be ready to fill up on turkey and sides, then decorate our homes in colored lights, while also wrapping gifts for loved ones. We will then celebrate the new year with champagne, and staying up late to witness the changing of the dates.
Yet before you know it, it will be here, because next year, the field will get bigger. More writers, more opportunities, and new blood. Watch out, because you know I’ll be ready to send out the message to have picks ready to go for the 2016 season’s first race, the Daytona 500.