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.
Kevin Harvick charged from 12th to the lead with 15 laps remaining and won the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With his fifth victory of the season, he also won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
For most of the race, all four Chase contending drivers raced among the top 10—usually the top six. NASCAR could not have asked for a better end to their inaugural playoff style Chase.