I did watch the show on TIVO and here's my thoughts:
1. I hated how they fired one from each team. In all honesty, it should have been Penn and Lisa in the end. I don't know if he was afraid Lisa couldn't bring in celebrity and/or money or if it was just a set up to have Trace back in the finale. Trace did mentally check out the past few tasks. What he has going for him is he picked the team that gave us 5 of the top 6 (or 4 if you don't count Trace). He also raised the most money for his charity. But his weaknesses showed on Team Power so I actually didn't think he was deserving of the finale this year. Penn and Lisa had better winning records, and the way Lisa managed Gary so successfully made her a winner in my eyes. I really think she got shortchanged. I do agree Penn deserved to be there but not so sure on Trace.
2. Maple is nasty period. I don't like maple syrup, maple candy, or even the maple tree that grows in my parents' yard. It makes a sappy mess every fall. I have no interest in trying Trace's nasty maple ice cream. Penn's sounds better and his execution in "what is a Swirtle" was better. But I can see country music fans lined up at Walgreens buying the ice cream to support Trace. I was surprised at how many people chose maple ice cream. Must be a Northeastern thing because I think it's just gross. And even if Brett Michaels (yum) offered me some, I'd have to pass.
3. John Rich seemed to have zero trouble getting Nashville to show up for him. It makes me wonder if John is more well liked than Trace. Now I know it's just editing but a current event this month really showed me the difference in the two. At George Jones' wake, John Rich (along with Loretta Lynn and others) stood in line to pay their respects to Mr. Jones and family. But Trace and Brad Paisley got the VIP treatment and were whisked in and out like they were the President. That right there tells me where the egos in Nashville are and that really hindered my opinion of Trace a lot. Why give the singer of Honkey Tonk Badonkadonk special treatment like that? And who is he to demand it?
I guess in the end I'm pulling for Penn because he proved himself a vip week in and week out for his team. He raised money and he brought in people. He also brought in ideas that were not only implemented but won for his team. I really feel like he is the most deserving this year.