May 5th, 2012
12:45 PM ET
Between Rachel Reilly and her fiance making it to the final four and the extreme popularity of bromantic underdogs Mark and "Bopper" from Kentucky, it's been quite a season on "The Amazing Race."
"This has got to go in the top three of all seasons ever, just with the drama and the cast," host Phil Keoghan told CNN.
"Bopper and Mark have made the top three favorite teams of all time – maybe the favorite ever, up there with the cowboys," he went on. "I love those guys – they’re the definition of friendship and I really believe that. They care about each other, I felt they were respectful to other people. They ran the race for the right reasons, to try to improve their lives."
Even so, "you can’t have an entire cast of Boppers and Marks, where they’re running the race for the right reasons, because that’s just not life."
This season was not without drama, as Keoghan said. Rachel and Vanessa were at each other's throats for much of the season, culminating in a nasty fight at the pit stop mat this past week.
With Rachel and her fiance Brendon earning a spot in the finale, it's quite possible that most recent "Big Brother" winner Rachel could make a rare achievement: winning two different reality shows.
"I think anybody who makes it this far in the race has mastered the competition," Keoghan said about "Brenchel," one of those reality couples that viewers either love or love to hate.
"How people get into the final four can vary tremendously. Brendon and Rachel followed the rules, they did it their way, and they’re there. They beat a lot of really good teams."
This season has also had its share of major mistakes, including one team losing sight of the pit stop, and - in the promo for the Hawaii-based season finale - another team who finish the race, but have to turn around and do a challenge they forgot.
"Can you imagine running to the finish line and thinking your race is over and finding out it isn’t? That’s never happened on the race before."
At the same time, Keoghan can understand how these mistakes happen.
"I totally get it. I know I make mistakes when I’m tired, just because I’m human and your brain turns into mush after 30 days of being sleep deprived and on a race around the world. If I was in the race, I’d be in the same boat as them. It’s tough trying to make decisions while you’re that tired and under that much pressure."
Phil has a lot of great moments he will take with him from this season, most of all the show's first trip to Azerbaijan, involving people who like to bathe themselves in crude oil.
"For some reason on this season, there seemed to be a lot of 'manscaping' challenges - messing with beards in Bavaria, scraping oil off hairy males in Azerbaijan. But, just being in Azerbaijan, which is just so different, was really a highlight."
"The Amazing Race's" two-hour season finale airs Sunday night on CBS.
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