The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series comes to close on Sunday afternoon in Miami with the running of the Ford-Ecoboost 400 at 2 PM ET on ESPN. We had a stunning turn of events last week, where Brad Keselowski not only made up a seven-point deficit against Jimmie Johnson for the lead, but blew past JJ and built up a 20-point cushion himself after a crash in Phoenix wiped out the leader. Now the only question left is whether turnabout will be fair play in Miami.
It’s going to take something incredibly dramatic for Johnson to catch Keselowski, and he’s the only driver with a chance. Even if JJ wins the race, Keselowski would need to finish just 15th to clinch the championship. And if Johnson finishes second or lower, Keselowski’s margin for error gets proportionally bigger, because it would mean Johnson didn’t get the bonus points that come with winning the race. Given that Keselowski has finished in the Top 10 in 23 of 35 races, there’s a lot that has to go right for JJ. We might further add that while Johnson has five wins—tied for the most, with Keselowski and Tony Stewart—when you say he’s won 5 of 35 races that cant’ engender optimism for a race that’s all but become must-win.
What it all boils down to is that we’re likely looking at an anticlimactic finish to what’s been an interesting year, starting with the crazy beginning at Daytona back in February and the fire on the track. Then there was Greg Biffle’s early lead, Carl Edwards’ fall from grace, Tony Stewart’s inability to run consistently and Jeff Gordon’s last-minute push to make the playoffs.
But according to TheSportsNotebook’s, NASCAR consultant, my brother Bill, no story will have more long-term consequences that Matt Kenseth’s decision to leave the Roush Fenway Racing team. We’ll see what this means for both Kenseth and the Fenway Racing Group. But the latter, as you might have guessed by its name, is the same ownership group that owns the Boston Red Sox. Apparently baseball isn’t the only sport where they’re having a hard time keeping star talent happy right now.
It’s been a great ride all season as we’ve followed the NASCAR drivers and learned about the tracks of America. TheSportsNotebook thanks Bill for his season-long insights and takes a chance and offers early congratulations to Keselowski, as he stands on the brink of his first Chase Cup.