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Thankful thoughts on the 2018 NASCAR season

Posted On Thursday, 22 November 2018 22:48 Written by
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As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful for a lot this year.

Some of those things are personal, others are professional and some involve the sport I’ve loved, followed and written about for more than half my life.

With the season wrapped up and Joey Logano having claimed his first title after a thrilling win at Homestead, here are some of the things I’m thankful for in the NASCAR world.

An exciting end to the season
I’ll start out by saying that anyone unhappy with the current playoff system, and still clinging to the old full-season points battle that was often decided before the final race was even run, is either fooling themselves or just plain unable to be happy with anything NASCAR does.

The playoffs were especially successful this year, full of exciting races and ending up with the four most deserving drivers battling for the title. We talked about the Big 3 all year, and there they were at Homestead. Joey Logano proved to be the best of the rest, and in a testament to the true fairness of the system, the guy who many fans said didn’t deserve to be there took home the crown.

Just like the Superbowl when the undefeated Patriots fell to the Giants, the Big 3 all ended 2018 without a Cup title, and that’s OK. That’s how sports go when everything is on the line and there’s one shot to win.

The Homestead race was a thriller, with all of the contenders having their turn up front, leaving us wondering who would become the champ until the very end.

By the time the checkered flag was waved, a late caution allowed Logano to edge out Truex for the win, though I was honestly a bit surprised Truex didn’t’ get more physical with Logano as they were battling for the lead, as he promised he would do following the Martinsville skirmish.

That’s a great end to the season, and somehow I still hear people complain. I’m thinking that’s mainly because they don’t like Logano, because there’s no other reason to be unhappy with how Homestead unfolded.

The Roval
For a sport that typically sticks to its traditions, seeing the Roval race happen at Charlotte in 2018 was the highlight of the season, in my humble opinion.

For the first time I can remember, I watched every practice, qualifying and the race in full with a sense of excitement about how things would go. I’m sure it was equally exciting for the drivers and teams.

The layout was ideal after a couple tweaks, making for exciting racing throughout the day, and the last-lap drama between Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson let Ryan Blaney sneak through as the unexpected winner.

A home run for the debut of this new concept, which was badly needed after some lackluster Charlotte races, and I look forward to the Roval races in 2019 and beyond.

I’m also open to other tracks trying this approach, particularly Pocono, but we don’t need to go too crazy and have 15 Rovals. Moderation is the key.

Talented next generation
This is the best time in a long time for the sport in terms of upcoming young drivers.

Chase Elliott had a breakout 2018 with three wins and will contend for titles. His Hendrick teammate William Byron should follow in his footsteps and break out in 2019.

Penske’s Ryan Blaney is a proven winner and poised to contend for wins and titles in the coming years. Daniel Suarez, assuming he finds a competitive ride in 2019 (perhaps the 41 car), has the talent to rattle off wins. Erik Jones has shown he can win at any level and will continue to do so for JGR for a long long time. Bubba Wallace also has potential to break out in the coming years if the Petty team can give him cars capable of doing so.

Incoming 2019 Cup driver Daniel Hemric is an RCR driver with a bright future, having shined in Xfinity for the past couple seasons.

Remaining in Xfinity and Trucks you have exciting racers like Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell, Cole Custer, Justin Haley and Grant Enfinger who should be making their way up the NASCAR ranks and into Cup in the next handful of years as they develop and more rides become available. Bell in particular stands out as a pure racing talent and could be the next generation’s Kyle Busch.

This continued line of talent making its way up the ranks makes me very positive about the future of NASCAR and what will happen when current fan favorites decide to step away from the sport.


Matt Myftiu can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or follow him on Twitter @MattMyftiu.
Follow AutoTechReviews on Twitter @autotechreview.

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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