The NASCAR season is officially over, Joey Logano is maybe the first ever champion to wear glasses during races, and the entire finale was run under absolutely awful conditions.
And I’m not talking about the weather.
Less than two hours before the final green flag of the 2022 season, news began to circulate about the death of Coy Gibbs, the son of longtime owner Joe Gibbs and father of Ty Gibbs.
Ty, of course, won the Xfinity Series championship less than 24 hours earlier.
Coy Gibbs, a co-owner and executive at JGR, was 49. As of today, all we know is that he died in his sleep.
There’s no sugar-coating it, and no way to say it that doesn’t sound crass, so I’ll just go ahead and go for it: the news cast a giant pall over the entire race. The garage was stunned, the NBC crew was stunned, the pre-race ceremony felt pointless.
The actual race was fine – and we’ll get to it in a minute – but it would be silly to try and do this without addressing a really, really dark day for NASCAR.
This picture was taken hours before Gibbs died.
It’s a terrible situation for everyone involved. Ty Gibbs obviously didn’t race yesterday. Joe Gibbs, meanwhile, has now lost not one, but two sons.
I can’t even imagine, and I never want to.
But, like Sunday’s championship race, the show must go on. So, for the final time during the NASCAR season, let’s take one more trip down pit road.
Four tires, a splash of that (expensive) Sunoco fuel, a little wedge adjustment and maybe some water, because we have A LOT to discuss.
Monday Morning Pit-Stop is a GO!
Joey Logano loses patience, then wins NASCAR championship
Have to start with our now two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, right?
Joey Logano dominated the weekend from start to finish – literally. He started on the pole, led pretty much every lap, never really trailed any of the three other championship contenders, and locked up his second Cup title.
Logano was probably the most consistent driver all season, and we probably should’ve all known this was how it was gonna end. After all, Joey did open the year waaaaaaaaaaay back in February by winning the Busch Clash in LA.
That’s probably as good a sign as any, right?
“Everything went perfect today,” Logano correctly said after taking the checkers. “I told the guys we were the favorite from Daytona, and we truly believed it, and that’s the difference.”
As is always the case in this race, there was some drama. For one Joey Logano, it came during a tense final 15 laps in Stage 2 where he had to delicately save fuel to try and make it to the end.
At one point, he clearly had ENOUGH of the mind-games from his crew chief and asked to know EXACTLY how close they were on fuel.
Logano eventually saved just enough gas to finish the stage, and, despite a slow pit stop on the back end, managed to pretty easily get back to the front.
He was far and away the best car all weekend, and didn’t really make any mistakes on Sunday.
It’s a pretty good formula for winning a championship, I reckon!
Ross Chastain wrecks Chase Elliott (not really)
Logano was flawless, and regular season champ Chase Elliott was anything but.
Elliott started fifth and hung around in the top-10 most of the day, but he never really had a great car. Sorry, folks. He didn’t. He was never gonna win, and I think Chase even knew that.
But, we’ve seen the slowest championship car win this race before (hello, Jimmie Johnson!), so Elliott was never out of it …
Until Ross the Boss punted him into next season!
OK, you’ve seen both angles now …
I’ve been pretty hard on Chastain this season, and he was absolutely in the wrong over the summer when he was on his weird rampage against Denny Hamlin.
But this one ain’t on Ross, folks. Not even kinda.
Could Chastain have lifted? Sure. He could’ve absolutely given Chase the spot and it probably wouldn’t have made a difference that early in the race.
But it was Chastain’s spot. He was already there, and Elliott cut down in front of him when he wasn’t clear. Don’t know if that’s on Chase or his spotter, but it’s definitely not on Ross Chastain.
Classic Chase Elliott move right here, too. Love the pause before answering the question by completely ignoring the question.
“Thought we had a shot at it all the way up until we didn’t,” he added after the race. “That’s unfortunately the way it goes sometimes.”
Elliott was clearly pissed, and that’s fine. I love an angry Chase. But that was fair game.
Brad Keselowski catching fire perfectly sums up new NASCAR car
On our way out, let’s make sure we get a nice video of one last driver catching fire and nearly frying to death this NASCAR season.
Brad, you’re up!
Perfect. There is NOTHING that sums up the safety concerns with the Next Gen car quite like another driver catching fire.
It happened to Kevin Harvick earlier this year (twice, I think), I believe it happened to Chase Elliott a few months back, and it’s been a major concern for the second half of the season.
I mean, drivers hate this new car so much that Martin Truex Jr. literally flipped his off last month.
My guess is NASCAR is already in the garage trying to iron out the details before we get to Daytona.
Head on a swivel, fellas!
Jimmie Johnson pulls a Tom Brady, will run Daytona 500
On our way out, Part 2!
In case you missed it last week, Jimmie Johnson – yes, that Jimmie Johnson – is now a co-owner of Petty GMS Racing and will run a part-time schedule next season … including the Daytona 500!
His “retirement” lasted quite a bit longer than Tom Brady’s, and clearly he’s willing to gamble that his un-retirement goes better than Tom’s … at least at home.
“Let’s go racing,” said Johnson, who will now look to add to his 83 career Cup wins. “(I’ll) do everything that I can to get in that Daytona 500.”
If I know NASCAR – and I think I do – my guess is you’ll have no problem getting into the sport’s biggest, most-watched race of the season.
Just a hunch!
And, just like that, our watch has ended.
As my good friend Larry Mac says, only 104 days until Daytona, baby!