Clint Bowyer sustained crash damage at Texas and Phoenix to finish outside the top 25 both times, but he knew he could have a strong run at Homestead if he avoided trouble. He did just that and finished eighth in the Ford EcoBoost 400.
That was his seventh consecutive top-15 on this track and his eighth such finish in nine starts. Ending the season on a predictably strong high note will give this team some confidence during the off-season.
Duncan Keith generated a goal and an assist in Sunday's 6-2 win over Dallas.
He posted four shots on goal in the match and logged 25:31 of ice time despite Chicago playing short a defenseman for most of the night. The Hawks lost Trevor van Riemsdyk to an injury early in the game. Keith topped 30 minutes last Tuesday and he played 27:35 on Friday versus Detroit. He has 11 points in 18 outings.
Matt Kenseth’s sixth-place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway was his fourth result of sixth or better in his last five attempts this season.
The only time he stumbled was at Texas when he was slightly off sequence on pit strategy at the end of the AAA 500. His solid season failed to net a single victory, but he finished second or third on six occasions.
Jamie McMurray finished fifth in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was his seventh top-five of the season and his second of the past three races.
McMurray was one of the strongest contenders all season, but a lack of consistency and some bad luck early in the year kept him out of the Chase. He and 2014 Rookie of the Year teammate Kyle Larson should be immediate good values in 2015.
Paul Menard hit the wall hard on lap 187 and lost a lap making repairs. He took a Wave Around later in the race and surged in the final laps to finish fourth in the Ford EcoBoost 400.
That was not only his first career top-five on this track, but his first top-10 as well. His previous best was an 11th in 2012, which made him a great value for fantasy players willing to take a risk on Menard.
Two mistakes on pit road in the final 50 laps of the race proved costly for Joey Logano. The team dropped a lugnut and later failed to get the jack fully under the car with fewer than 20 laps remaining, which caused him to drop out of the top 10 to outside the top 20. He rallied to finish 16th, but that was the worst result among the Chasers.
An old auto racing adage proved correct where Logano was concerned. A driver has to lose a championship before he can win one and this was a valuable lesson learned by the No. 22 team.
Denny Hamlin spent more than 250 of 267 laps among the top five at Homestead in the Ford EcoBoost 400, but he got a bad restart on old tires with three to go and slipped to seventh in the final rundown.
Hamlin was a favorite to win the championship among several experts because of his late-season surge. While he came up short in the overall standings, he was easily one of the best values in fantasy games.
Brad Keselowski failed to advance to the Championship round after getting knocked out in the Eliminator, but he showed the NASCAR elite that he deserved to be among them by finishing third in the Ford EcoBoost 400.
Keselowski was in an awkward position since his teammate Joey Logano was racing for a championship and most of the frontrunners had run-ins with him during the Chase, but he ignored the pressure and raced hard in the closing laps. That is how a driver scores major fantasy points.
Ryan Newman came within one spot of winning his first race in the Championship round of the 2014 Chase, which would also have given him the NASCAR title. He raced among the top 10 all night and finished second in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
This was his season-best finish. Newman finished third at Kentucky and Martinsville earlier in the season. For all the talk of the potential for a winless champion, it is notable that he would have had to win the race to win the title.
Kyle Larson finished off the 2014 season with a 13th-place finish, which was his 24th top 15 in 36 races, and easily won the Rookie of the Year honors.
Larson did everything expected of him except win a race. Still, he came close three times at Auto Club, New Hampshire, and Kansas with second-place finishes. It is hard to imagine that he will not grace Victory Lane in 2015.