If there was ever a desire, a need, a hope to complete what has been a nearly perfect season, it was to happen on Sunday. The cards were all laid out; it was as clear as day. It may have came down to one race, with a winner take all mentality, but the truth was that it was more than that.
Emotions were everywhere. Two drivers that entered at the same time into Cup competition were seeing their careers come to a close. One wasn’t certain what the future held, while another had a clear picture ahead. Another announced that two more events in 2018 would conclude a career, one that broke boundaries and brought in a new look at what the typical driver would be.
But still, the focus was on a championship. More importantly, could anyone stop what has been dominance from the beginning?
It seemed possible through the first stage. It still seemed possible through the second. But, what mattered was only how it ended.
With one last pass late in the going, all the pressure went towards one driver to hold on, while the rest were chasing down. Laps counted off, then the white flag waved. One and a half miles were all that were left to determine who was holding up an enormous trophy at night’s end.
The checkered flag in the air, and the near perfect season…had a perfect ending.
Without question, it was Martin Truex Jr. that experienced everything his life and career could throw at him. From his time at DEI, to moving to Michael Waltrip Racing and being the center of a controversy among teammates. Moving to a team based away from NASCAR’s hub, and redefining his career, and himself. To seeing his girlfriend go through chemotherapy treatments, and team members losing their life just before an event, he’s seen it all.
Yet this year, he thrived. The most wins, the most playoff points, and a regular season title, it was a familiar tale, but one needing a true final chapter.
The final 10 races, there was never a doubt. Nothing changed, and the only way his year could end was being the best. When that checkered flag waved, the tears began flowing, and the realization came in. Truex Jr. won the race, but most importantly, it meant that he proved for not just 10 races, but for 36, that he was the best. Truex Jr. is the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Champion.
The League participants knew he was the best, but was anyone ready to gamble and hold off until the final event to use him? Two decided to make the pick this week, with each taking a win. But, one of them waited for 10 weeks before pulling the trigger on the dominance.
It was enough for a win, and a championship. Here’s a look at the final standings following an emotional, and triumphant, Ford EcoBoost 400:
Sal Sigala Jr. (5040) Martin Truex Jr. WON – 
Misan Akuya (5035) Kyle Busch finished 2nd – 
Ashley Hobbs (5034) Kyle Larson finished 3rd – 
Billy Fellin (5028) Denny Hamlin finished 9th – 
Rob Blount (2396) Martin Truex Jr. WON – 
Penny Whitecotton (2360) Kevin Harvick finished 4th – 
Ashley Hull (2350) NO PICK SENT – 
Rob Tiongson (2347) Kyle Larson finished 3rd – 
Patti Rodisch (2342) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 25th – 
Ashley McCubbin (2261) NO PICK SENT – 
Dustin Parks (2257) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 25th – 
Dalton Hastings (2245) Kurt Busch finished 22nd – 
Klarissa Mitchell (2148) NO PICK SENT – 
One of the constant participants long before the name changed was the man who had consistently carried the torch as an Earnhardt man. He always was “3 Wide and 1 To Go” from the outset. But, in the last couple years, personal trials tested his mentality, and his life.
First losing his father, then his mother, it was a moment where he considered walking away, almost as though it didn’t matter anymore.
Then two weeks ago, his own life took a frightening turn. Sitting in a hospital bed, suffering what seemed like a stomach ache, turned into diverticulitis, and removal of almost a foot of intestines. Even being in the hospital for a week, and a rehabilitation center after surgery, he still managed to find a way to ensure he was going to get involved with the League.
He stayed the course, and for the first time, he can be declared the champion. Sal Sigala Jr, even after returning home, said he was standing nervously the final laps as Truex achieved the lead, and held on. He now can say he won a championship, and did so literally the hard way.
This man has stayed true to the League since it’s inception, and much like Truex Jr, he’s earned the title.
And now, the season has concluded. It’s time to toast to the holidays, and the off season. But before you know it, the 2018 version of the Horsepower Racing League will return, and it is a guarantee that Sal will make a return to defend his championship. Happy Holidays one and all.