“The right car, the fastest car, Joey Logano absolutely proved he was the best, passing the No. 78 to go on to a championship.” – Steve Letarte on 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Joey Logano
“It took him ten years to get it done. He had to learn how to win these races, he had to learn to stand up for himself.” – Jeff Burton on Logano
“I think the right car won, the right driver won. All weekend long it was Joey Logano who looked very, very strong.” – Rick Allen
“I know he is heartbroken, but they have to hang their heads high to finish second after the season they have been through.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Martin Truex Jr.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – November 18, 2018 – NBC Sports Group surrounded the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship with more than 20 hours of trackside coverage this week from Homestead-Miami Speedway, in Homestead, Fla. Coverage was highlighted by this afternoon’s race for the title, which featured the final showdown between 2018 Championship Four contenders Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.
After 267 laps of fierce competition, Joey Logano and the No. 22 Team Penske Ford held off Martin Truex Jr. to secure the checkered flag and win the 2018 Championship. The victory marks Logano’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
Lead NASCAR on NBC race announcer Rick Allen called today’s historic race, alongside Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte, from NBC Sports’ traditional broadcast booth above the start/finish line. NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. teamed with 21-time Cup Series race winner Jeff Burton, in NBC’s “Drivers Booth.”
Coverage began on NBCSN at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR America, before shifting over to NBC at 1:30 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green. Krista Voda anchored pre-race coverage alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Dave Burns and Parker Kligerman reported from pit road, alongside features reporter Rutledge Wood.
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2018 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS
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The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship coverage on NBC.
Letarte on race winner Logano: “I think that is what we all wanted to see, a shootout. The right car, the fastest car, Joey Logano absolutely proved he was the best, passing the No. 78 to go on to a championship.”
Burton added: “It took him ten years to get it done. He had to learn how to win these races, he had to learn to stand up for himself.”
Allen on Logano: “I think the right car won, the right driver won. All weekend long it was Joey Logano who looked very, very strong.”
Earnhardt added: “Middletown Conn., better be celebrating Joey Logano!”
Earnhardt on runner-up Truex: “He said it. They made a superstar out of him. After the scandal at MWR, not many wanted to hire Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing was just looking for a driver. He went over there and his first year finished 24th in points and struggled. This team didn’t catch fire right away. Him and Cole Pearn got together and they have been in the Playoffs ever since. I know he is heartbroken, but they have to hang their heads high to finish second, after the season they have been through.”
Allen on race winner Logano: “Joey Logano giving Roger Penske another championship.”
Burton as Logano led with six laps to go: “Many people wondered in Martinsville, ‘Why would Joey Logano do that?’ Here is why. That move in Martinsville, moving Martin Truex Jr. out of the way, moved Logano to the championship race and gave him a shot. Now he is trying to execute on it.”
Letarte on No. 18 team crew-chief Adam Stevens’ decision not to pit until the final caution flag: “I don’t think we can say enough about what Adam Stevens did. They absolutely got lucky with the yellow flag. But it wasn’t complete luck, it was strategy. The combination between Stevens and Kyle Busch has been magical since 2015. Kyle Busch breaks his leg in Daytona, gets back to health and then comes back together and wins a championship. And they have been on top ever sense. They have never missed the Championship Four.”
Letarte on the pit stop: “I know he was first in, first out. But think about what Coach Gibbs did. He said, ‘Denny Hamlin, I know you are the pole sitter, but we are going to give Kyle Busch the No. 1 pit stall.’ It hasn’t worked most of the day, but when it really mattered most they got great pit work.”
Letarte as Kyle Busch led with 29 laps to go: “I love this call by crew chief Adam Stevens. He was behind. He didn’t have a choice. Run as long as you can. You never know when a caution will save your chance.”
Letarte on crew chief strategy with 45 laps to go: “Math would say wait 13 or 14 more laps, kind of split it in the middle. But this isn’t just math, this isn’t science, this is emotion.”
Burton on the competitive spirit needed to be a driver: “You really need a split personality. You can be a nice guy on the street on a Tuesday, but on a Sunday you have to be ugly and nasty and selfish. That is how you are going to win these races.”
Burton as Logano and Larson battled for the lead: “Risk vs. reward. That No. 42 car has nothing to lose. If he gets into the wall and damages his car, it is the end of the year. Everyone else is racing for a championship. I just don’t think that Joey Logano can afford to go up (by the wall) right now.”
Letarte on Kyle Busch’s slow pit stop: “In third and out ninth, sixth spots lost. They didn’t need perfect, they just needed solid. This is anything but solid.”
Earnhardt on the change in temperature of the track at Homestead-Miami Speedway: “The temperature of this track changes quickly from day to night. The driver whose fastest now, might not have that handle late, when the sun goes down and this thing cools off.”
Letarte added: “This race gets fun when the sun goes down.”
Burton on Harvick’s line early in the race: “Kevin Harvick is a race manager. He is very smart. He doesn’t want to be up by the wall anyway right now. He does this at Darlington, a race track where everybody runs right against the wall. Kevin Harvick gives himself a car length from the wall. He doesn’t want to make a mistake and have damage. That is Harvick’s strategy, it works well for him and he is going to stick to that today.”
Petty on the Championship Four drivers standing backstage before driver introductions: “This is like a championship heavyweight bout, and we are bringing everyone out of the same dressing room…It is unheard of in any other sport.”
Jarrett on the Championship Four team owners: “They haven’t all sat in the seat of a stock car and won a Championship, like Tony Stewart. I appreciate everything the other three have done. They have built great teams and won championships in all forms of motorsports, but Tony Stewart is the man that understands going out and winning this race more than anyone else.”
Petty added: “Owners are like parents. All you can do is give your children all the opportunities and all the tools that you can to success, and then turn them loose.”
Voda on Truex and the No. 78 team: “There is a scene in the movie ‘The Replacements,’ where Gene Hackman tells his players, ‘There is no tomorrow for you, and that makes you very dangerous.’ Is that what we are seeing with this No. 78 team?”
Petty: “In a lot of ways yes. I think that is an intangible. I think heart is an intangible. You can’t see it. We can talk speed, we can talk preparation, and we can talk guys who have led laps and won races, but we can’t see what these guys are feeling emotionally.”
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–