NASCAR Season Comes To An End
Barring major disaster on Sunday, Jimmie Johnson will pick up his 6th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. But there is much more to this final weekend of the season.
Johnson is starting 7th for the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and only needs to finish 23rd or better to win the Chase for the Championship. The only other contenders who still have a mathematical chance to beat Johnson for the title are Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.
Kenseth is trying to overcome last weekend's horrible 23rd place performance which made him a longshot to overcome Johnson's whopping 28 point advantage and win the Chase. Kenseth is off to a good start this weekend however, as he set fast time in qualifying on Friday and will start on the pole for the race Sunday.
Harvick is 34 points behind Johnson so he too technically could become Champion if both Johnson and Kenseth post poor finishes - not a likely scenario.
So the Championship is there for Johnson to take, but there are some other notable aspects to Sunday's finale.
Kurt Busch qualified 2nd and is starting his last race for Furniture Row Racing in the No. 78. Martin Truex Jr. will be moving to the No. 78 to succeed Busch next year as he leaves the No. 56 team at Michael Waltrip Racing. Truex rolls off 8th in the race tomorrow.
Jeff Burton ends his career with Richard Childress Racing this weekend. For the last six years, Caterpillar has been the primary sponsor of the No. 31 and in a show of appreciation to Burton, the car is carrying a special "Thank You Jeff " message on the rear quarter panels. Burton qualified 14th for Sunday's race but has not yet announced his plans for 2014.
It also looks like Mark Martin's illustrious career may be coming to end after 31 years. Martin has been subbing for the injured Tony Stewart and his last scheduled race in the Sprint Cup Series is Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400. Martin will have a total of 882 starts in NASCAR's top series when he rolls off 22nd in Stewart's No. 14.