He'd earned it, after all. He was the one who won eight races this season, the most of any driver. He was the one who led the most laps, won the most stages. He was the one with so many points that in most other seasons, he would have already clinched the championship before the final race. And ultimately, he was the one who came from behind on Sunday, who rallied despite not having the best car, to fend off the other three championship contenders (coincidentally leading 78 laps along the way) and win NASCAR's top series.
So Pollex stood a few feet away and recorded it all on her phone, swiping up constantly to remove the congratulatory text messages now flooding her iPhone.
Eventually Truex and Pollex made eye contact, and then nothing else mattered. Truex pushed bodies out of the way like he has cars all season long until he and his girlfriend could embrace. They hugged, kissed. Cried. What else was there for either of them to say?
"After everything we've been through personally and on the track, this is ... I couldn't even get myself to think about this moment," Pollex said, "because I knew the emotions were going to be just crazy."
That's just in the immediate aftermath, too. The high-fives and hugs and slaps on the back came like a revolving door after that, each one forcing both Truex and Pollex to flash their smiles. Other drivers came, and crew members, but random fans, too. One man even waited as long for Pollex to autograph his baseball cap (which she of course did) as everyone else did for her winning partner.
By that time, the raw emotions had to give way to the official processional. The stage. The trophy lifting. The confetti, the champagne showers, all that stuff that champions get to do -- that's life champions, too, not just drivers.
So Pollex swigged a miniature water bottle and started jogging to the stage. But before she could leave, she found her mother for one last embrace, and she said something to her that shouldn't soon be forgotten.
"That's why you never give up," Pollex said. "Never."
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