It’s one race, and anything can happen.
Martin Truex Jr. doesn’t need to win it, but he does need to finish ahead of the other three drivers still alive in the playoff. Furniture Row would have already clinched the title under the old NASCAR format, but now the standings go out the window for the last race of the year.
Truex and the Furniture Row Racing team have the most wins this season, the most stage wins, led the most laps...the list goes on and on. It's been a terrific year, but you have to wonder how it will be perceived if Truex comes up short in the championship race.
“Martin Truex has had a career year to this point," NBC NASCAR analyst Dale Jarrett said this week. "But I think he’d be the first to tell you a lot would be forgotten if he doesn’t win the championship.”
Truex actually doesn’t agree with anyone who believes the season could turn to disappointment due to one race.
"They’re not in this position, they have no idea what they’re talking about," Truex said. "It’s a tough situation. There’s 40 cars out there, it’s not just 4 of us racing. 400 miles, so much can happen. We’ve seen it so many times, the best car doesn’t always win, best team doesn’t always win.”
“That’d be crazy. You would drive yourself insane if you tried to rest everything on this 1 race," crew chief Cole Pearn said. "That was our approach, have the best season we can possibly have, that’s really all you can do.”
Pearn and the Furniture Row Racing team are trying to get luck on their side. They’ve taken a page out of hockey’s postseason and grown out the playoff beards.
“We did it a little bit in 2015, some guys did it and we made it to Homestead. We didn’t last year and we didn’t make it. So everybody is on board, no option," Pearn said.
The team has let the facial hair grow for more than two months now.
“It’s not too bad right now," Pearn said. "I think, week 4 we all looked like drug addicts maybe. We were all scratching our faces and looking a little bit uncomfortable, now at this point I’m getting used to it.”