In NASCAR’s new era, the most deserving team won’t always come out on top in the end. It wasn’t a bad season for Joey Logano by any stretch of the imagination — three wins is nothing to scoff at. But the simple fact that Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch both racked up eight wins on the year and came away empty in Miami proves the point above.
NASCAR’s winner-take-all format is brilliant for creating and sustaining drama down the homestretch of a season. It was a solution to the runaway champions of the past (looking at you, Matt Kenseth) and a way to drum up interest during a tough time of year when NASCAR goes head to head against the NFL.
The result is a Super Bowl type event to cap the year. It creates pressure and rewards those that have consistently run up front all year. The system has typically put the correct four cars in the final four, with a couple of exceptions.
Just like the NFL playoffs or NCAA Tournament, a team that has underperformed can get hot at the right time. That’s exactly what Joey Logano did in the second half of the 2018 playoffs. Suddenly, virtually out of nowhere, the 22 team found speed. They carried that speed from Kansas all the way through Homestead, where they topped the practice charts in every category for the weekend.
Logano got the short run he needed at the end of the race to top Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. Did Joey deserve a season long title because he got hot late? I have my issues with that, but it’s no different than any other sport. You’ve got to go prove it when it matters the most.
If you gave the trophy out every year to Alabama or the New England Patriots at the end of the regular season, you’d be missing out on some of football’s greatest playoff moments.
On Sunday in Miami, Joey Logano created one of NASCAR’s biggest playoff moments to date. It’s exactly why this system was put in place. Is it the best way to crown a deserving champion? Probably not. But it puts the final four in a pressure cooker and rewards whoever can come out on top. There’s definitely something to be said for that.