Martin Truex Jr. was the best driver of the 2017 season, and his success was a part of Toyota’s dominance in NASCAR this season.
The top two drivers in the final standings — Truex and Kyle Busch — both drove Toyotas, and they combined for 13 wins. Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth both finished in the top seven and won a combined three races, and they both drove Toyotas.
Toyotas seemed faster than Ford’s and Chevy’s nearly every week, and that was reflected in the standings. Can anyone dethrone Toyota next season? Well, it will certainly be a challenge, and while non-Toyota drivers had success this year and two made the championship (Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski), one driver and team has the best chance of taking over and winning in 2018.
If you noticed at Sunday’s championship race, there one was driver who had the fastest car at the track, but it seemed like he was holding back out of respect of the two championship contenders in Truex and Busch. If anyone can dethrone Toyota next season, it’s 25-year-old Kyle Larson in the No. 42 Chevy Camaro.
Larson wasn’t in the Championship 4, and he didn’t even make the Round of 8. He suffered engine failure in the final race of the Round of 12 and didn’t advance. But Larson still won four races this season, and he was among the favorites to win the title entering the postseason.
It felt like Larson could’ve won at Homestead, and he had a great season overall before his difficulties late in the year. If he and his team at Chip Ganassi Racing can work out some of those mechanical problems, he’ll be among the favorites to win the championship next year.
Larson loves to race, and he competes in races during the week at dirt tracks during his free time. His car has speed, he has a great team, and he has the skill to compete at the highest level and win a championship.
Chase Elliott is another driver who is on the verge of breaking through, but he is still searching for his first win and doesn’t have the same experience as Larson.
Toyota seemed lightyears ahead of the rest of the sport in 2017, but Larson has the ability to gain ground and take away the championship from a Toyota driver next season.