As the 2015 NASCAR season zoomed by, the phrase “Defy the Doubt” defined the spirit of this year’s biggest winners and dominated the buzz around this exciting sport. Now we can’t help but look back at some of the moments, well, you’d have to see to believe.
First, let’s talk about Jeff Gordon. Who could have written a more dramatic script for this superstar’s grand finale? He’s had the opportunity to go out a winner – in every sense of the word – during his farewell tour. After reigning victorious in the 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2001 championships, back when we still called it the Winston Cup, the distinguished driver could retire a hero with yet another championship if all goes well at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Now that the title series is switching from the Sprint Cup to a new name, Gordon has the chance to take home the very last Sprint Cup trophy. Can Gordon defy the doubt by bringing his champion status to a whole new level? Whether or not Gordon snags his first ever Sprint Cup (making that his fifth championship), he’s still the first race car driver to earn upwards of $100 million in Cup winnings.
Earlier in the season, Kyle Busch suffered injuries in a horrific accident that caused him not only to miss the season-opening Daytona 500 but also sit on the sidelines of 11 races. Facing recovery from multiple leg injuries during a hard crash in the season opening Xfinity race, he has defied the doubt by brushing himself off and winning four Sprint Cup races, including 15 top-10 finishes. He is now one of four drivers competing for the championship. After overcoming some intense challenges on and off the track, it’s easy to root for Busch to win the Chase and snag the Sprint Cup.
Among these final four, Martin Turex Jr. has also made it to the Chase and is contending for the highly coveted championship title. Given what he has dealt with off the track with his girlfriend Sherry Pollex, it’s a wonder that he maintains his concentration and driven will to win. While he’s only won one race, Turex had 22 top-15 finishes. In his own way, he has been defying the doubt with a determination to win and overcome the odds.
One of our favorite personalities in NASCAR, Clint Bowyer defied the doubt just by making it to the Chase. With MWR (Micheal Waltrip Racing) closing its doors, Clint decided he wasn’t going out without a fight. It was a long shot for Clint to compete in the Chase for the Sprint Cup this year, but we give him credit for making the playoff and wish him luck while he temporarily races for HScott Motorsports in 2016. After some uncertainty, Clint will team up with Stewart-Hass Racing starting in 2017.
We’re sorry to say that Tony Stewart didn’t make the Chase after one of his worst seasons as a driver, as he’s a favorite of ours. But, we’re glad to report he is shining brightly as a car owner. Coming off a championship year with team member and driver Kevin Harvick, Tony has a reason to keep his head high. Stewart-Haas Racing had two drivers competing in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Now that Kurt Busch is eliminated, Harvick is still very much a contender for the championship minus any unexpected drama. The reigning champ was no stranger to drama this year. He ran out of gas with three laps remaining in one race, he exchanged words with Joey Logano at the Sprint Unlimited, won a drama filled Chase elimination race at Dover, and lets not forget he punched Mr. 6x champ Jimmie Johnson.
VIDEO: Matt Kenseth Wrecks Joey Logano
There is so much to be excited for this season, and, these ups come with some disappointing downs. (Can you say “restarts”?) NASCAR clearly needs to get it together and come up with consistent rules, especially for punishing retaliatory drivers. Like many fans, we didn’t have a problem with Matt Kenseth and his reactive response to Joey Logano. We like the Boy Wonder, the next best thing since sliced bread. However, if a driver races hard then the driver should expect to be raced harder. Just ask Danica Patrick, who retaliated against David Gilliland after he sent her into the wall at Martinsville Speedway.
VIDEO: Speed Stick Presents: The Journey of Cole Whitt
Back to better news, we couldn’t be more proud of our Ginger Lion, Cole Whitt. We have followed Cole Whitt’s career since the beginning. We have had the opportunity to shadow him and interview him several times. Cole is becoming a better driver with each passing turn, plus he,is very consistent in showcasing his skill. To date his average start has been roughly 35th place, with his average finish 30. He has held his own against other sophomore drivers such as Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson. With the right equipment, we believe the sky is the limit for this young driver who is preparing for his third NASCAR season. Cole is the epitome of the slogan Defy the Doubt and brings inspiration to the racing industry.
READ: How NASCAR Crowns Its Sprint Cup Champion
And we couldn’t recap racing season without Dale Earnhardt Jr. In a word: WOW! Dale Jr. is finally becoming the driver that Jr. Nation was waiting for. Dale made the Chase again this year, but more impressive were his 3 wins including the rain-delayed triumph at Daytona and the rain-delayed race at Phoenix. Apparently Dale Jr. excels behind the wheel like it’s a watersport. Just like that, Dale is defying the doubt by showing fans that he’s one all-weather winner. While he had won four races last year, it’s the first time Junior has ever won three or more races in consecutive seasons. He didn’t make it to the championship 4 group, but next year – hey, you literally just never know.
With the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway days away and the Championship 4 set with Kevin Harvick, Martin Turex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Jeff Gordon, we can’t contain our excitement. We know we will be watching Sunday. Don’t forget to tune in and see which doubt-defying NASCAR star reigns supreme as we wrap up 2015.