Jimmie Johnson. Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch. Kevin Harvick. Martin Truex, Jr. Denny Hamlin. Brad Keselowski. Kyle Larson. Chase Elliott. These men are NASCAR. These men, a few women, and so many others made the sport. Were the sport. Are the sport. Brian France is not NASCAR. There is a reason 97 percent of all family businesses do not survive as such into the fourth generation.
Jeff Gordon. Four-time NASCAR champion. Three-time Daytona 500 champion. Four-time Brickyard 400 winner. Six-time Southern 500 victor. Three-time World 600 champion. Three-time All-Star race winner. Winner of 93 Cup races. He probably was the most automatic inductee into the Hall of Fame since Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
Stars. Many are called, but few are worthy. Each week, NASCAR provides somewhere between 34 and 40 entries out on the track, but fewer than 25 have any legitimate shot at making a difference. We know the names of those who have succeeded, those who have made and earned, a place in the spotlight.
1. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex led the final 51 laps at Homestead and held off Kyle Busch to capture the win at Homestead and his first Monster Energy Cup championship. "No offense to Joey Gase," Truex said, "but nice guys don't finish last, they finish first. I am a nice guy, and as champion, I reserve the right to be called 'Mister Nice Guy.'"
Nose to tail, side by side, just inches apart, ripping around a 2.66-mile tri-oval that is 48 feet wide with 33-degree banking in the corners at speeds of over 190 miles per hour. It is obvious to anyone watching what could happen. It is amazing when it does not.
1. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex won Stage 2, his 15th stage win of the season, and finished second at Michigan, passed on the final restart by a bold move from Kyle Larson. Truex leads the Monster Energy Cup points standings, and also leads with 35 playoff points.