This weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, NASCAR is hosting the season finales for all three of its major circuits: the Camping World Truck, Xfinity, and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series. While each of these races will have more than 30 drivers competing, there are only four contestants in each race with a chance to win the championships. These series contenders don’t need to win the races to win the titles—they just need to beat the other three contenders in their races.
It will be an exciting weekend for NASCAR, with season championships awarded on three separate nights. Here are my picks to win each of these titles.
CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES
Friday at 8 p.m. ET, FS1
Although 2016 champion Johnny Sauter is in the race, has the most wins this season, and is the only contender who competed for the championship last year, my pick to become the Truck Series champion is Brett Moffitt. He is second to Sauter in wins this year, with five victories in 22 races. He also won last week in Phoenix to clinch his spot in the Championship 4, so he has a lot of momentum. Finally, he has won races on the tracks most similar to Homestead—namely, the 1.5-mile loop. While he has felt very confident about the speed his truck has had all year, he is also very confident in his team going into this weekend. “[My team] has been strong pretty much everywhere we go. I feel like we have a shot to win [in Miami] if we execute,” Moffitt said following his victory at Phoenix. “Homestead is a fun track for me.”
Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
The motto for the Xfinity Series is Names are Made Here, as this is where drivers typically prove they have what it takes to compete successfully at the highest level of NASCAR: the Monster Energy Cup Series. Championship 4 contender Daniel Hemric is the only one of the four who has announced his ride for next year in the premier series, so he might be an obvious pick to take home the title on Saturday night.
However, despite leading many races and comfortably securing his spot in the Championship 4 with his consistency, Hemric did not win a race all year. The only driver in the Xfinity competition with a title to his name is Christopher Bell, who won the Truck Series championship last season. This experience, combined with his seven wins in 32 races, makes Bell my pick to win title this weekend.
Despite the fact that previous wins no longer play a factor in determining the series champion, Bell says the wins matter to him. “We’ve won six races before today, and it was a great year,” he said after getting his seventh at Phoenix. “Whenever I go into a season, my two goals are to win races and compete for the championship, and we won races and we competed for the championship all the way up until things that were outside of our control happened. It was still a successful season by my standards.”
Since Bell has those seven wins, he has already reached most of his season goals and may feel the least amount of pressure among the four finalists.
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, NBC
This will be the most competitive of the Ford Championship Weekend events because three of the four contenders have already won a Cup Series title: Kevin Harvick in 2014, Kyle Busch in ’15, and Martin Truex Jr. last year. The only Championship 4 contender who doesn’t have a Cup title is Joey Logano, although he was a finalist in ’16.
Harvick, Busch, and Truex have carried the label of the Big Three this season, winning 20 of the 35 races among them. Harvick and Busch are tied for the most wins with eight apiece, and Truex Jr. has picked up four. Logano has also won two this year but has not been as consistently dominant from week to week as the other three finalists. When asked last week who would be the favorite, Busch responded by saying: “I don't know how you could pick a favorite necessarily. I would predict this is the best four, the closest four that have been in our sport in a long time.”
While this is the hardest of the three series to predict, I’m going to pick Truex. If you don’t follow NASCAR closely, you may not know that this is the last event for his team, Furniture Row Racing. Truex won the championship last year, but his team will close its shop doors following the race on Sunday. It has already been announced that Truex and his crew chief, Cole Pearn, will be joining Busch next year at Joe Gibbs Racing. A win on Sunday would be a fairytale ending for a team that has been successful against very long odds as a one-car team operating in Colorado in a sport dominated by multi-car teams based in North Carolina.
Even with all of the off-track distractions, Truex seemed both confident and sentimental following last week’s race at Phoenix: “All in all, I’m just really proud of everybody, everybody back in Denver at the shop for continuing to bring good race cars and stay focused,” he said. “Cole and all the guys, it’s an unbelievable group. One last hoorah next week and we’ll go give them all we’ve got.”
Top photograph by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images