NASCAR Sprint Cup Ends with a Duel
As the final race of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday offered excitement from start to finish, ending with Tony Stewart taking the checkered flag and the championship title. Having won the NASCAR season championships in 2002 and 2005, this was Stewart’s third championship victory – a victory for which he had to battle against very strong competition. The last 40 laps of the 267-lap event proved to be a duel between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards that kept fans in suspense right to the finish line. Although Stewart and Edwards ended the season tied in points, the championship title went to Stewart because of his five victories during the season, compared with one victory for Edwards.
What made Stewart’s victory even sweeter was the fact that it was not without obstacles. Eearly on in the race he discovered a hole in his car’s front grille forcing him to stop for repairs. His team put a new grille over the damaged one, securing it in place with electrical tape, and sending him on his way again. At one stage Stewart was 40th in the field, but climbed to 5th place before a 74-minute rain delay broke his stride once more. But nothing was going to stand in Stewart’s way as he fought his way to the front of the field, and the battlefor first place became a duel between himself and Edwards.
In a post-race interview, Stewart acknowledged that the first 109 laps of the race had been very challenging and commended his crew for their hard work. Commenting on his daring driving style which saw him passing a trio of cars on the inside of the track, Stewart said:”That shows you how bad I wanted to win this thing.” He also noted that a driver can’t hold anything back when going for a championship.
Martin Truex Jr. finished in third place, with Matt Kenseth taking the fourth spot and Jeff Gordon coming in fifth. Having scored two wins in the season, Jimmie Johnson had a disappointing finish to the season, finishing 32nd due to engine trouble and an incident in lap 143 where he spun out and hit the wall. Nevertheless, Johnson ended in sixth place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings with 2304 points. Both Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards clocked up 2403 points, with Kevin Harvick taking third place with 2345 points, Matt Kenseth at fourth place with 2330 points, and Brad Keselowski in fifth place with 2319 points.