Final lap of the season is here

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It’s one to go.

After 35 races, including nine playoff races, the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season comes to end Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway where the Championship 4 drivers will battle it out to become the 2019 NASCAR Cup Champion.

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There is no point advantage for any of the four eligible drivers as they’re on equal terms. It’s simply whoever finishes best between Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and Denny Hamlin. The last five Cup Champions have all won at Homestead to seal the deal. Busch, Harvick, and Truex are three of those drivers. Hamlin, who comes off a clutch Phoenix win, will be looking for his first Championship.

Let’s take a closer look at the Championship 4 and who may have an edge with updated Championship odds offered by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

Kyle Busch (5-2): The 2015 Cup Champion has one Homestead win and it came in 2015. The Las Vegan has finished sixth or better in his last four starts at Homestead and has two wins this season with this week’s race package that feature aero ducts on the cars and have engines producing 550 horsepower.

“Somehow, some way, if it works out, it was meant to be,” Busch said. “If it doesn’t, then it’s not. Hopefully the sun will come up for another day.”

The problem I have with Busch this week is that the last of his four wins this season came on June 2 at Pocono. There have been 21 races run since his last win. It bugs him, too. The lack of momentum is enough for me to suggest he won’t win the race or title.

Martin Truex Jr. (5-2): The 2017 Cup Champion grabbed his only Homestead win in 2017 and was runner-up to Joey Logano last season. He led the series with seven wins this season, but only two using this week’s race package. However, both of those wins were on 1.5-mile tri-ovals at Charlotte and Las Vegas which should be more than enough reason to support him.

“It’s going to be interesting for sure,” Truex said  “I feel like we’re here for a reason, and that’s because (the JGR teams) all work together so well, and hopefully we’ll do that the same this week and throughout the weekend … and then Sunday let the best team win.”

It’s the first time in playoff history that one team has had three drivers in the Championship 4.

Kevin Harvick (14-5): The 2014 Cup Champion notched his only Homestead win in 2014. He also holds the track record with 10 top-five finishes. He’s won three of the last six races using this week’s race package, including the last one on a 1.5-mile track at Texas.

“(We need to) beat three Gibbs cars. Go faster than them,” Harvick said. “We’re going to do everything just like we’ve done all year.”

In my opinion, Harvick is the driver to beat at Homestead because of his momentum with this package.

Denny Hamlin (14-5): He’s one of two drivers to have three wins in the 17 races using this week’s race package. He’s also the only active driver in the series with multiple wins (2) at Homestead. He’s confident and wants to be a champion for the first time, but he’s also humble and willing to accept the possibility of not winning.

“I’m just more content with what I’ve accomplished in the series,” Hamlin said. “I don’t need validation of a championship. I think that the outside world feels like I need that to validate my status, whatever it is. But doesn’t change who I am.  Doesn’t change how I treat people. If I don’t win this year, I’m going to work just as hard for 2020.”

I like Hamlin’s momentum off the Phoenix win, I like his history at Homestead’s 1.5-mile high-banked paper clip layout, and I like how his team performed with this race package all season, the last coming at Kansas last month. In what has been a career year already, winning his first championship would be the icing on the cake.

Until February for the start of Daytona Speedweeks, have a great holiday season, and thank you all very much for reading this space weekly in Gaming Today. It’s been a fun season.

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