MIAMI- Martin Truex Jr.’s dominant 2017 campaign finished with a storybook ending in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Coming into the Ford EcoBoost 400, the Mayetta, New Jersey, native had a series-leading seven victories, but none was more important than his win on Sunday, which earned him the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship of his career.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said Truex. “We just never gave up all day long. We didn’t have the best car. I don’t know how we won that thing. Never give up. Dig deep. I told my guys we were going to dig dipper than we ever have today. With 20 laps to go I thought I was done. They were all better than me on the long run all day long. I just found a way. I found a lane that I could use, and I found a lane that was blocking enough of their air that they couldn’t use it and just made it happen. I can’t believe it. I’ve wanted this since I was a little kid. Just never give up on your dreams no matter what happens.”
To win the title, Truex beat out Championship 4 contenders and past Monster Energy Series champions Brad Keselowski (2012), Kevin Harvick (2014) and Kyle Busch (2015). Busch finished the race in the second position, while Harvick and Keselowski finished fourth and seventh, respectively. Kyle Larson, who led a race-high 145 laps, finished third.
Truex, who drives the No. 78 car for Furniture Row Racing, became the 32nd different driver to win a Monster Energy Series championship. His win in the Ford EcoBoost 400 also marked the fourth consecutive year where the series champion was also the race winner.
“I was a wreck thinking about all the tough days, the bad days, the times where I thought my career was over with, the times when I didn't think anyone believed in me,” said Truex following his win in the Ford EcoBoost 400. “But the guys, the people who mattered did – my fans, my family. Then I got with this team. They're unbelievable, and they resurrected my career and made me a champion.”
For the 37-year-old, the victory was his first in 13 Monster Energy Series starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and makes Truex the eighth different driver to celebrate a Monster Energy Series title at the 1.5-mile championship track. He is also the 13th different winner of the Ford EcoBoost 400. Truex led a total of 78 laps on Sunday, the most by a Ford EcoBoost 400 winner since 2010 when Carl Edwards led 190 laps.
Today was the third NASCAR championship celebrated by Truex at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as he claimed XFINITY Series titles in 2004 and 2005. Both titles were won under the Dale Earnhardt Inc. banner, in which Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a co-owner.
In addition to winning the driver’s championship title tonight, Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser also claimed the owner championship. The win is Furniture Row Racing’s first series owner championship in the Monster Energy Series.
Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 was also the final race of Dale Jr.’s storied career. The 14-time NASCAR most popular driver finished the race 25th.
“We retired and Martin wins the championship. That’s storybook,” said Dale Jr. “I hope all the fans enjoyed this season. I know it wasn’t everything we wanted on the race track, but we just had fun off of it, and I’m going to miss everybody. We’ll be back.”
Erik Jones, driver of the No. 77 car for Furniture Row Racing, won the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year award. The 21-year-old finished the season with five top-5 and 14 top-10 showings.