The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is coming to a close in this weekend’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (2:30 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN) at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Championship 4 is now set and Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski will vie for the title in South Florida.
Truex though, is the easy odds on favorite. He’s won seven times this season with 18 top five finishes and 25 top 10’s. He’s also led 2,175 laps as well. In the playoffs, he’s had a top five finish in all but one race. He’s finished inside the top two in three of the last four races. He’s also doubled his career win total in this season alone.
But, if Truex doesn’t win, don’t blame the system.
Yes, Truex is the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee a championship. Before any one says well NASCAR has always been about the full season, stop. In 2014, NASCAR created this winner take all scenario at Homestead. Plus, in 2004, NASCAR created the playoffs. Between 2004 and now, everything has changed from the NASCAR that we knew in 2003 and prior.
While yes, Truex has had one of the most dominating seasons in recent memory, he’s not owed a title.
Think about this, how many No. 1 seeds have won the Super Bowl or World Series, let alone the NBA Finals? How many No. 1 seeds win the NCAA Tournament? While they have the best odds and have won the most championships, it’s not like the No. 1 seed wins every year in every sport. If so, why have playoffs to begin with?
In 2007, the New England Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season but lost in the Super Bowl. My Indianapolis Colts had how many great regular seasons to win just one Super Bowl in the Peyton Manning era? In this past year’s baseball playoffs, both the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers won over 100 games and were the top seeds in their respective AL or NL sides of the bracket. Neither took home the World Series trophy.
So, why would we assume Truex gets the Cup championship this season? It’s a feat that he made it to the final round. That’s where the stage and playoff points help reward a driver who does well in the regular season. Truex benefited from that. But, to say a system is flawed if he loses out on the championship this weekend is completely wrong.