Gordon Scores Victory, Keselowski Becomes Champion

Keselowski Celebrates First Sprint Cup Championship
Photo – Getty Images

By Jason Schultz

A new champion has been crowned – Brad Keselowski is now on top of the world as the new Sprint Cup Series Champion.

After three full-time seasons in the Sprint Cup Series, Keselowski is now the champion. More notably, Roger Penske is finally a Sprint Cup Series Championship winning owner after forty plus years in the sport. Keselowski raced his race all afternoon and he, his team and owner were rewarded with a championship.

Jeff Gordon redeemed himself from his actions during the Phoenix race by winning the Ford EcoBoost 400. It was also Gordon and his team owner, Rick Hendrick’s first victory at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. When Jimmie Johnson went behind the wall late in the race, Keselowski remained calm and did everything he needed to do to be crowned champion.

Marcos Ambrose started on the pole and led early before Kyle Busch passed him on lap 15.

The first caution of the day came out on lap 76 when debris was spotted along the backstretch.

A driver who has been so close to victory all season, Martin Truex Jr, took the lead on lap 117. Truex Jr has been oh-so-close in other races this season and was close again in the season finale, coming up short once again.

The halfway mark in the race came and Kyle Busch was the leader, while Johnson sat in third and Keselowski was in twelfth.

The second yellow-flag of the race flew on lap 142 for debris. All the leaders pitted and championship contender Jimmie Johnson came off pit road first, taking the lead.

The third and final caution of the race and season came out on lap 154 for Ricky Stenhouse Jr, who got into the wall in turn three and four.

Some leaders pitted including Jimmie Johnson. Kasey Kahne was the leader on the restart and he battled with Kyle Busch for many laps before Busch cleared Kahne for the lead.

Championship hopes began to go up in smoke for Jimmie Johnson with 55 laps to go, when Johnson needed to come back down pit road for a missing lug nut. After that, Johnson’s championship hopes only got worse. With 42 laps to go, Johnson started reporting smoke in the cockpit and he came down pit road with 41 laps to go.

Chad Knaus made the call that Johnson’s team, fans and Johnson dreaded most, he was going to go to the garage. Johnson had a mechanical issue and the car was unable to return to the track. Johnson’s championship hopes had officially gone up in smoke.

As the news of Johnson going behind the wall spread, Brad Keselowski and his team kept their focus, but they knew their first Sprint Cup championship was within reach with time to celebrate later.

Keselowski made his final pit stop with 19 laps to go and the stop was flawless.

Jeff Gordon made the race winning pass, with 13 laps to go, when Kyle Busch had to pit. Gordon would go on to cross the finish line first and win the race, a complete 360 degrees turn to how he finished the last race. Gordon was proud to get his sponsor DuPont to victory lane during their 20th season of sponsoring him. This was Jeff Gordon’s first win at the Homestead-Miami Speedway and that means the only current track on the NASCAR circuit Gordon has yet to score a victory, is Kentucky.

Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski cruised to the finish line to win his first career Sprint Cup Series championship. The emotion in Keselowski was vivid throughout his lifetime dream championship celebration. It was clear that Keselowski and his team were glad to finally win this championship.

In championship victory lane, Keselowski said that he has “the best team around me (Keselowski).” Keselowski added that his team includes his crew, his family and his friends. Another first for the night includes Keselowski winning Roger Penske his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. After the race, the Penske owner known as “The Captain” said that “these guys are the best.” Roger Penske was wearing his emotion on his sleeve and everyone could tell how accomplished Roger felt following the race.

Keselowski has entered the level of “scary good” and in only his third full-season he is crowned champion. That’s a feat accomplished only by Dale Earnhardt, earning his first title in his second season and Jeff Gordon – also in his third season.

The crowning of a champion means that the season has ended. 2012 was an interesting, incredible and jaw dropping season. There were so many story lines from this season and 2012 will be a year for the history books. Coming into the season, no one would have believed there would be a new champion, but after the year Brad Keselowski has had, it is very believable.

The off-season is now here and in just three months, NASCAR will be back at Daytona.

An incredible season was capped off with the crowning of a champion Sunday evening in Homestead-Miami and a lifelong memory has been created. Congratulations Brad Keselowski on becoming the new Sprint Cup Series Champion.

Results and Point Standings via Nascar.com

1 15 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 20 Years ‘Celebratory’ 47/1 267 Running
2 6 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 42/0 267 Running
3 19 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 42/1 267 Running
4 8 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M’s 42/2 267 Running
5 13 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M / SP Richards 39/0 267 Running
6 7 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 39/1 267 Running
7 5 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield 37/0 267 Running
8 23 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 36/0 267 Running
9 26 78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Furniture Row 35/0 267 Running
10 16 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew 34/0 267 Running
11 18 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Duracell 33/0 267 Running
12 4 99 Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal 32/0 267 Running
13 2 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Black & Decker 32/1 267 Running
14 1 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depo
t / redbeacon.com
30/0 267 Running
15 3 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 29/0 267 Running
16 9 55 Mark Martin Toyota Aaron’s Dream Machine 28/0 267 Running
17 35 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 27/0 267 Running
18 11 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy 27/1 267 Running
19 33 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 25/0 267 Running
20 14 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats 24/0 267 Running
21 12 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 24/1 267 Running
22 17 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 0 267 Running
23 20 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 0 267 Running
24 41 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 20/0 267 Running
25 32 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Clorox 19/0 265 Running
26 38 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King 18/0 265 Running
27 30 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King 17/0 265 Running
28 21 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 16/0 264 Running
29 28 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 15/0 264 Running
30 24 51 Regan Smith Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 14/0 264 Running
31 34 34 David Ragan Ford CertainTeed / 31-W Insulation 13/0 263 Running
32 31 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Florida Lottery 12/0 263 Running
33 40 38 David Gilliland Ford Long John Silver’s 11/0 262 Running
34 37 10 David Reutimann Chevrolet TMone.com 10/0 261 Running
35 39 37 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet C&C Audio Video & Appliance, Inc. 9/0 261 Running
36 10 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe’s 9/1 224 In Pit
37 42 32 Ken Schrader Ford Federated Auto Parts 7/0 219 Out of Race
38 22 30 David Stremme Toyota Swan Racing 6/0 183 Out of Race
39 27 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford Fifth Third Bank 0 157 In Pit
40 36 26 Josh Wise * Ford MDS Transport 4/0 38 In Pit
41 25 98 Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing 3/0 34 In Pit
42 43 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 2/0 23 In Pit
43 29 119 Mike Bliss Toyota Plinker Tactical 0 16 Out of Race

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