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Dustin Off the Finale: NASCAR Cup Series Championship

A week ago I talked about how the next-to-last race was gut check time for a lot of these drivers, trying to get into the final race with a chance at winning a title.  What ended up was a gut check bump out of the way, a driver stealing headlines away from the title contenders, and one upset individual trying to prevent a celebration.

If that is gut check time, then what is coming up this afternoon is going to be a war.

One thing is for certain, and it is that the payback that one may be expecting from a week ago could become more costly.

What Alex Bowman did at Martinsville can be considered typical short-track action.  And yet, when Hamlin was angry, what is lost is the fact he did the same thing to another Hendrick driver just four years ago, in just about the same spot.  So, how is it that what he did he felt was a racing incident, but when it was done to him the driver is a hack?

Going for the win and bumping out of the way is nothing new, and just because he spun and wrecked he thinks different.  Hamlin is the one with an opportunity to finally bring home a championship that he came so close to getting on several occasions.  He missed out last year, despite a dominant campaign.  He’s come close in 2010, but a final-race incident made it a challenge to come back and take that title away from Jimmie Johnson.

So now, he’s having to try and win a title, while also trying to decide if he wants to go for payback, and potential consequences from it.

At the same time, he’s got a teammate that can potentially win that title as well, a former champion that although has not seen a dominant campaign like he did a few years back, he still is championship material.

Then there’s the Hendrick duo that can add to the legacy of a team that is consistently championship material.

One driver saw that dream become reality a year ago, while seeing another former champion and teammate inevitably pass the torch to him as the flag bearer for the group.  In one moment, Johnson stopped on the track, and Chase Elliott pulled right beside him.  In that moment, one legacy on the track came to a conclusion, while the other was still just beginning.

The other saw his season end abruptly a year ago, and has come back as the dominant factor in this season.  Nine wins in 35 races, 25 percent of the season.  In some ways, him not winning the championship would be unjust.

This year was deemed the “Best Year Ever” for the sport, coming off a year where a majority of the races had limited or sometimes zero fans in the stands.  It was a year for redemption, and in a way that has happened.  First-time winners, unexpected moments, and thrills all season long.

Now, it comes to an end, and there’s four men that are going to go for it all.  One will win the race, one will win the championship, and as history has proven since this format was introduced, one driver could actually win both.

This is the time we will dust off the finale, because the title is on the line, and nothing is held back.

About Dustin Parks

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