While there will be over 40 drivers taking the green flag at Homestead Miami Speedway for the final race of the 2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Series season, only four people have a chance to leave the track being able to call themselves champion for the year.
The last four standing – Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keslowski and Martin Truex Jr. – met with the media Thursday afternoon inside the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach, each one eager to get onto the track one final time in 2017 and bring home the title.
While three of the drivers each have hoisted a series championship (Keslowski in 2012, Harvick in 2014 and Busch the following season) Truex Jr. is still searching for his elusive title. The New Jersey native won seven of the 35 races this season, but knows it doesn’t matter with NASCAR’s playoff format.
"I’ll wreck any damn one of these three,” Truex Jr. said. “I’m going to race these guys just like I do every single week."
"If it (points) wasn’t set back at zero, we’d probably all be congratulating Martin right now with the season he’s had,” said Keslowski. But it is. Everyone has an opportunity."
Both Harvick and Busch were able to clinch their championships by winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 and they know the importance of doing something just 15 other drivers have ever accomplished – winning multiple titles.
"I think a second championship validates the first one,” Busch said. There are a lot of arguments being made that we didn't deserve the first one. This would put (us) in another elite group."
Harvick, who won eight races during his championship 2014 season, knows a second title on Sunday would be a team effort.
"It’s not boxing. This is a car race and there are a lot of things that are involved in it. It’s not my mind against his mind,” he said. “It’s my team and everybody who has to show up and navigate the weekend because this weekend is not like any other weekend we’ve been to."
Of course, what would NASCAR be without a little rivalry – and look no further than the longstanding feud between Busch and Keslowski.
“Sometimes you just don’t like a guy — fact of the matter,” Busch said. “There is a respect factor out there on the race track and you certainly do a better job sometimes when you’re around some of those guys that you may or may not necessarily like.”
“From my perspective (it would be) a little bit foolish to get caught up with any one person. I do think that both of us are fortunate to have great cars, great teams and when you run up at the front a lot things are going to happen,” said Keslowski.
The race will be the last of three during Ford Championship Weekend, crowning a champion in each of the sport's three Green flag for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 is set for 3 p.m. and can be seen on NBC 6.