NASCAR notebook: Truex falls just short in title defense

Kevin Harvick: 'We Had a Daytime Racecar'

Championship 4 driver Joey Logano was fastest in the final Cup practice session for Sunday's Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

Joey Logano celebrates a race win and NASCAR championship simultaneously at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2018. The four championship finalists will be near the front of the field.

Hamlin, meanwhile, won the pole for the second consecutive year and in a meaningful race for his team.

The 28-year-old driver now has 21 career wins and ond one NASCAR Cup championship.

Logano had been adamant he was the favorite to win the race, in part because he wasn't even supposed to make the final four and had just one regular season victory. Logano's chances may be tough as he has made what may be an enemy in fellow championship four driver Martin Truex Jr.

"My vehicle was really good on entry all day", Logano said, shrugging off any notion he had anxious about overdriving that corner.

"For me, there's always some incentive in proving to people that you can do something that isn't what they think you should do", Harvick said.

Fans hope the four championship-contending cars are legal but won't know for sure until the cars have been inspected, long after the champagne celebration is over, because the culture of cheating in NASCAR lingers. And then they made a great call to put us in position to win the race, and then the caution came out when the 2 auto (Brad Keselowski) spun the 19 (Daniel Suarez), and we came off pit road fourth.

The championship is Logano's first in NASCAR's premier series, the first for Ford since 2004, and the second ever for Team Penske.

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Television ratings hit a low in 26 events this year, and the cumbersome rulebook, a vulnerable inspection process and NASCAR's officiating has received far too much attention of late. We have been so close.

He and Wheeler won their very first race together, the Daytona 500 in 2016, and Hamlin wants to bookend their time together with a victory in their finale. "It hurts a little, and I'm going to miss all of the guys".

As the Big Three weaved through their individual issues, Logano just went fast.

It was Busch who said losing the title would be most disappointing if it went to Logano because Logano wasn't in the same league as the Big Three all season.

Busch said Friday he thought the idea would get shot down as it did for Truex, and Hamlin didn't seem eager to give up his prize.

Noah Gragson was the championship runner-up and finished third in the race. His average finish is 8.43 while Harvick's is 9.00, Logano's is 10.94 and Truex Jr.'s is 10.97.

And in the final 15-lap shootout to the finish, Logano used a power move on the outside line to shoot past Truex and drive away.

Logano's win also sealed the manufacturers' championship for Ford, the first for the company since 1999.

Gibbs, the Super Bowl and NASCAR champion, said he made the call this time.

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