11-23-2017 Tri-City Area Sports

Martin Truex Jr. claims first Cup Series Championship

Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski entered Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami with high hopes. One final race of the 2017 season, one last chance to grab the championship.

The Ford EcoBoost 400, the 36th race of the year, covered 267 laps. It was Martin Truex Jr., the darling of the 2017 season, taking the checkered flag and hoisting the championship trophy in Victory Lane. He led 78 laps.

Truex Jr. celebrated his first series championship by tallying his eighth win of the season and 15th of his career. He earned 19 top five and 26 top 10 finishes this year.

The driver, who began racing a Cup Series schedule full-time in 2006, had a terrific season and earned the championship by consistently having the best, fastest car. And, really, in NASCAR, that’s what it’s all about.

Kyle Busch claimed the runner-up spot in both Sunday’s race and the championship after leading 43 laps. The driver was not pleased with the outcome and snarled through most of his post-race interview.

At issue for Busch was some hard charging, no quit effort, by Joey Logano that Busch thought was misplaced given the driver was not gunning for the championship. Buck up, Busch. There’s always next year. This year, you’re #2.

Kyle Larson took third place and led a race high 145 laps.

Championship contender Kevin Harvick finished fourth with Chase Elliott rounding out the top five.

The race featured 12 drivers finishing on the lead lap. There were 13 lead changes and five caution periods for 26 laps.

Keselowski ended his championship hopes in seventh place. He led one lap.

Pole sitter Denny Hamlin finished in ninth place.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. closed out his Cup Series with a 25th place finish.  The driver announced earlier this season that he will not return as a full-time driver next year.

Also ending her full-time racing career is Danica Patrick. The driver finished 37th on Sunday and is in need of not only a team but a sponsor for next year. Stewart Haas Racing did not renew her contract and the driver struggled to find a sponsor this year. According to Patrick, she will run at Daytona in February and then will switch back to Indy Car racing for May’s Indianapolis 500 before hanging up her helmet.

Congratulations to Martin Truex Jr. who put together a spectacular season and capped it off by claiming his first Cup championship!

AQB WRAP-UP

Identical records by the AQBs were the name of the game in week 13

By Kristy Noack

Week 13 in the Tri-City Record Armchair Quarterback contest showed just how tough the competition is and in touch the competitors are with each other.

Two sets of ‘backs not only selected identical winners but they also predicted the same exact point total. Tim Hildebrand and RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht guessed the same picks and 44 point total, while Greg Krell and Bryan Conrad matched winners and 51 point total. That’s the first time all season two different groups of two have predicted the same winners and points! Talk about lucky 13!

Of course being cool doesn’t guarantee you first place. In our contest, six local football fans match wits weekly as they determine who will prove victorious in eight high school, college, and professional football games.

In the event two or more AQBs end up with the same record for the week, one game is specially selected as the tie-breaker game. The contestants must determine how many points will be scored in that contest. The predictor closest to the actual total wins the higher spot in the rankings.

This week, Hildebrand, Rodney-Isbrecht, and Chris Leach posted the best weekly record. All three ‘b