When it comes down to the final opportunity to accomplish a goal, and everything is on the line, there is no turning back. The best is all one can o, and anything short feels like failure is what takes place.
For many teams, Saturday night at Richmond was their true final opportunity to earn a chance at a championship. After the checkered flag went in the air, some dreams were realized, and others shattered. For some drivers, the only way to earn the championship is to take the victory. Others had a bit of a cushion to make it in, while still wanting a victory to ensure a guaranteed spot.
It all came down to 400 laps at “Racing Perfection” and it came down to one imperfect finish.
A dominant car ended up second after the final pit stops, and lost the lead on the restart. That dominant car then got turned into the wall, meaning the finish it deserved was not the finish it was credited.
The car that won, it is familiar with the D-shaped ovals, but not on this size of a track. Beginning last year, and all this year, Kyle Larson made the sweeping, wide and fast speedways that were two-miles long his own personal playground. When it came to other tracks, he had speed, but not enough to be victorious. On this night, it was a perfect pit stop, and a perfect restart, that meant he was the one to see victory lane at what many think is the perfect race track.
Meanwhile, the car that met the outside wall on that final lap, still had reason to celebrate. Martin Truex Jr. had a season that could not be matched on any scale. His dominating performances week, after week, after week, were more than enough to secure the regular season championship. That performance through 26 races meant another 15 playoff points to use, ensuring he had the lead entering the championship hunt.
What was even more astounding is first, many participants had a win in the bag until that final restart, and it relegated them to settling for a sub-par finish. That also meant at the top of the standings, the point totals saw a tie, yes a TIE, between a pair of veterans of the League. The difference in the standings…victories.
With six victories to his credit, it is Misan who takes the regular season title, as he bettered Mrs. Hobbs by two wins. Now, the standings are reset, and playoff points get added in. The Playoffs are set, as are the League Playoffs. Here’s your baker’s dozen as they stand entering the 10-race Playoffs following the Federated Auto Parts 400:
Misan Akuya (2038) Kyle Busch finished 9th –  38
Sal Sigala Jr. (2030) Martin Truex Jr. finished 20th –  30
Ashley Hobbs (2029) Martin Truex Jr. finished 20th –  29
Ashley Hull (2022) Joey Logano finished 2nd –  22
Patti Rodisch (2016) Martin Truex Jr. finished 20th –  16
Rob Tiongson (2014) Jamie McMurray finished 14th –  14
Billy Fellin (2015) Joey Logano finished 2nd –  15
Rob Blount (2014) Joey Logano finished 2nd –  14
Dustin Parks (2010) Clint Bowyer finished 24th –  10
Ashley McCubbin (2010) NO PICK SENT –  10
Penny Whitecotton (2006) Kevin Harvick finished 15th –  6
Dalton Hastings (2005) Jimmie Johnson finished 8th –  5
Klarissa Mitchell (2000) Denny Hamlin finished 5th –  0
Next Race: The field of 16, plus another 24, are ready to start the final chapters of the 2017 season. It’s Playoff time for NASCAR, and it starts in a town that has seen titles come at the hands of people like Walter Payton and Michael Jordan.
The Windy City is the host for the start of the 2017 playoffs, and Chicagoland Speedway is ready to welcome the field of 40, and the Playoff 16, to compete for victory.
Participants, this is a new game with the standings now reset. This also means a new set of rules to follow, and abide by. However, that doesn’t mean the deadline is different.
Your picks are to be locked in and submitted by Thursday, September 14, at 10 p.m. ET for the Nickeloden Tales of the Turtles 400