A trio of sports shorts heading into Thanksgiving Week:

The guy on top of the NASCAR world today is an alumnus of Southern Regional High School.  Martin Truex Jr. wrapped up his first NASCAR Cup Championship with a victory in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway capping a year in which he was clearly the sport’s top driver.

Truex held off Kyle Busch for his eight victory of the year and the driving championship, quite an accomplishment for the 37-year old who grew up in the Mayetta section of Stafford Township and began his career by racing go-carts at New Egypt Speedway.  Truex graduated from Southern in 1998 and was inducted into the school’s Wall of Fame in 2008.

The bitter disappointment of losing the Big South Championship on Saturday was somewhat eased for the Monmouth University football team less than 24 hours later when the Hawks earned their first bid into the NCAA Division 1 Football Tournament.

Monmouth’s 9-2 record was good enough for them to earn an at-large spot in the 24-team FCS playoff and a trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where they will face the University of Northern Iowa on Saturday at 5pm.  Even better news for the Hawks is the game will be played inside a 16,000 seat dome stadium where it’s always 72 degrees.

26 Shore Conference teams began their bid for state sectional football championships just ten days ago and seven are still alive, including Point Boro and Point Beach who for the first time ever will play for titles in the same year.  The undefeated Panthers will face Hillside for the Central Jersey Group 2 championship while the surprising Garnett Gulls will tackle Middlesex in the Central Jersey Group 1 finals.

Both those games will be played on Saturday, December 2nd with the locations and times to be announced later this morning.

Manalapan, Long Branch, Freehold, Rumson and Mater Dei Prep are also in the finals.