NASCAR Cup Series: Dale Earnhardt Jr. retires

WATCH: Martin Truex Jr. stops by “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”

The best team - and, in this case, the best driver - doesn't always win the championship, but Sunday night at the NASCAR Cup Series finale, the rightful driver is going home happy.

Elliott used that line last week to address his aggressive racing with Denny Hamlin that cost Hamlin a shot at the title.

He finished second in the Ford EcoBoost 200 from Homestead-Miami Speedway, one spot ahead of title contender Johnny Sauter.

Four drivers are running for the Monster Energy Cup, with another 36 there as a supporting cast. He dominated nearly every statistical category all year - he led the most laps and won the most stages - and his victory was his series-best eighth in 2017. "It was late in the season, found out I wasn't going to have a sponsor, obviously, for the next year". The other drivers to progress needed enough playoff points to avoid elimination. Driving in the final race for Brad Keselowski Racing in the series, the rookie scored the victory for the first time in his career and last time for BKR. "I never ran into Matt Kenseth, I don't think Matt Kenseth ever ran into me, so 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".

There's no doubt Busch will be chasing the checkered flag on Sunday and a second Cup title.

A 14-time most popular driver award recipient, Earnhardt has won the exhibition All-Star Race twice and is a five-time winner of the Daytona 500 qualifying race.

Earnhardt Jr. also spent some time racing in the Xfinity Series.

"I feel, in a lot of ways, that we were more competitive the last three years than we have been this year, and we didn't make the final four", Keselowski said. From 2010-15, the squad had taken just two wins over six seasons, with an average finish of 19 to boot.

"I want to hit Martin so something is on my car I can remember him winning the championship", Earnhardt said.

Truex won't have team owner Barney Visser in attendance because Visser is recovering in Colorado from a heart attack and surgery.

From the beginning of the season, Kyle Busch (2015 champion) and Martin Truex Jr.

Earnhardt raised a cold one. And we can just hop over the channel to venues such as Monza and Spa-Francorchamps. "That's not something that anyone takes for granted, I don't think". It is bigger than words. "To think about all the rough days and bad days, the days that I couldn't run 20th; to be here, I never thought this day would come and to be here is so unbelievable". I think we're still getting stronger.

Pollex, who suffered a recurrence of ovarian cancer this year, reminded Truex of how far they've come when she embraced him. For Harvick, it is his first year in the partnership between Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford and gives the organization the chance to become the first since Cale Yarborough in 1978 to win in the inaugural year with a new manufacturer.

Truex capped the most successful season of his journeyman career as NASCAR's champion Sunday, then struggled to start the celebration. A win during the season gives automatic passage into the playoffs, and in fact all 16 drivers had won a race previously this season. His decision to retire - at least in part - was linked to concussions concerns.

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