The Contest That Defines A Championship In Auto Racing

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USA TODAY Sports' Mike Hembree previews the Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Harvick will try to lock up Ford's first NASCAR Cup championship since 2004 on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.(Photo: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports)

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. — As auto racing streaks go, this one stands out. And not in a fun way for Ford Motor Co.

The Blue Oval has a long and strong history in NASCAR, but Ford has not won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in a dozen years. In fact, Ford’s last title came in 2004, the first year of dramatic changes in the format used to decide the champion. Kurt Busch won that year for team owner Jack Roush.

After Busch, Chevrolet won seven straight titles — five in a row by Jimmie Johnson bracketed by two by Tony Stewart. Brad Keselowski won for Dodge (since departed) in 2012, and Johnson and Kevin Harvick followed with wins for Chevrolet in 2013 and 2014. Kyle Busch gave Toyota its first driver’s championship in 2015, and Johnson returned Chevrolet to the throne room last year.

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Ford’s driver lineup over the past dozen years certainly has been championship-worthy, but the challenge has not been met, and that’s been particularly ironic since the final race weekend of the year — because of sponsorship — has been known as “Ford Championship Weekend."

Dave Pericak, director of Ford Performance (a position he’s leaving for another within the company next month), said the long title drought is motivation for Ford and its two drivers — Harvick and Keselowski — in Sunday’s championship hunt.

“It’s time,” Pericak said. “We owe that to our fans and our employees and everybody who’s been with us throughout the years. It’s time to get it done.

“It means a lot to our program. It would be hard to define what winning a championship does, but it’s huge. We want it more than ever.”

Keselowski and Harvick will battle Toyota drivers Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. for the championship in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400. Chevrolet did not advance a driver to the Final Four.

PHOTOS: 2017 NASCAR CUP PLAYOFF DRIVERS, POINTS

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn2017 NASCAR Cup Series playoff drivers> Fullscreen

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These 16 drivers will be vying for bragging rights
These 16 drivers will be vying for bragging rights and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series trophy. This season, bonus points will carry over into every round except the finale. Drivers are listed by seeding, with four drivers eliminated every three races and points reset.  Sarah Crabill, Getty Images>Fullscreen1. Kevin Harvick 5,000 points. (Clinched berth in championship
1. Kevin Harvick 5,000 points. (Clinched berth in championship four)  Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen2. Kyle Busch, 5,000 points. (Clinched berth in championship
2. Kyle Busch, 5,000 points. (Clinched berth in championship four).  Matthew OHaren, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen3. Martin Truex Jr., 5,000 points. (Clinched berth
3. Martin Truex Jr., 5,000 points. (Clinched berth in championship four)  Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen4. Brad Keselowski, 5,000 points.  (Clinched berth
4. Brad Keselowski, 5,000 points. (Clinched berth in championship four)  Matthew O'Haren, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen5. Chase Elliott, 2,338 points. (Eliminated after third
5. Chase Elliott, 2,338 points. (Eliminated after third round)  Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen6. Denny Hamlin, 2,321 points. (Eliminated after third
6. Denny Hamlin, 2,321 points. (Eliminated after third round)  Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen7. Matt Kenseth, 2,311 points. (Eliminated after second
7. Matt Kenseth, 2,311 points. (Eliminated after second round)  Peter Casey, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen8. Ryan Blaney, 2,297 points. (Eliminated after third
8. Ryan Blaney, 2,297 points. (Eliminated after third round)  Matthew O'Haren, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen9. Kyle Larson, 2,266 points. (Eliminated after second
9. Kyle Larson, 2,266 points. (Eliminated after second round)  Matthew O'Haren, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen10. Jimmie Johnson, 2,250 points. (Eliminated after
10. Jimmie Johnson, 2,250 points. (Eliminated after third round)  Matthew O'Haren, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 2,200 points. (Eliminated
11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 2,200 points. (Eliminated after second round)  Mike DiNovo, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen12. Jamie McMurray, 2,200 points. (Eliminated after
12. Jamie McMurray, 2,200 points. (Eliminated after seond round)  Matthew OHaren, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen13. Austin Dillon, 2,198 points. (Eliminated after
13. Austin Dillon, 2,198 points. (Eliminated after first round)  Mike DiNovo, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen14. Kasey Kahne, 2,194 points. (Eliminated after first
14. Kasey Kahne, 2,194 points. (Eliminated after first round)  Mike DiNovo, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen15. Kurt Busch, 2,193 points. (Eliminated after first
15. Kurt Busch, 2,193 points. (Eliminated after first round)  Mike DiNovo, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen16. Ryan Newman, 2,169 points. (Eliminated after first
16. Ryan Newman, 2,169 points. (Eliminated after first round)  Matthew O'Haren, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen

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    Source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nascar/2017/11/18/ford-nascar-cup-championship-drought-homestead-ford-ecoboost-400/877588001/

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