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.
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|
|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|
|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|
|13||2||9||Marcos Ambrose||Ford||Black & Decker||32/1||267||Running|
|14||1||20||Joey Logano||Toyota||The Home Depo
t / redbeacon.com
|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|
|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|
|26||38||93||Travis Kvapil||Toyota||Burger King||18/0||265||Running|
|27||30||83||Landon Cassill||Toyota||Burger King||17/0||265||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|
|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|