By Jared Turner
Each of the four championship finalists has been downright brilliant at times this year. So who’s the favorite to prevail in Sunday’s winner-take-all finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway? Let’s give the nod to Carl Edwards based on sheer, unbridled desire. No one wants this more than Carl, after losing the 2011 title to Tony Stewart in such heartbreaking fashion – on the basis of a tiebreaker. Then again, of the remaining title contenders, only Joey Logano and Kyle Busch have been part of the Championship 4 before, which could provide at least a psychological advantage. Then again, one could argue that Jimmie Johnson – with six titles – is the ultimate clutch performer. What does this all mean? It figures to be one whale of a winner-take-all finale for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Alex Bowman deserves a real “atta boy” on his performance over the weekend at Phoenix. In his ninth appearance as fill-in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Bowman won the pole and led a race-high 194 of 324 laps before ultimately coming home sixth. Bowman’s finishing position doesn’t do his performance justice, however. Bowman was sailing toward an almost certain second-place finish when a caution flag with one lap of the scheduled distance remaining set up a restart that resulted in Bowman colliding with with race leader Matt Kenseth and losing multiple positions. Although Bowman didn’t have time to fully recover, he has every reason to be proud not only of his effort at Phoenix but also his overall effort in arguably NASCAR’s highest-profile ride. Over his nine starts in the No. 88, Bowman has five top 15 finishes – including three top 10s. For a guy who has no plans for 2017, that’s impressive. So impressive that he’s making a strong case for himself to get hired.