36 races. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is in the books. NASCAR has crowned a new champion and for the first time in 7 years, the champions name isn’t Tony Stewart or Jimmie Johnson.
On Sunday evening it was Brad Keselowski who hoisted the Sprint Cup after finishing fifteenth in the Ford EcoBoost 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway beating Jimmie Johnson, who ended up finishing the season in third place, by 40 points.
At the age of 28, Keselowski is the eighth-youngest competitor to win a first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. He previously won the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series title, owner Penske’s first in NASCAR, and joins Bobby Labonte as the only driver to win both championships.
“It means the world — it really does,” Keselowski said. “I’ve got the best team in racing, and I’m just so thrilled to be a part of it. From the top down, Roger Penske, [crew chief] Paul Wolfe, everybody else, the crew guys and my family — that means so much.””
In this weekly segment, Total Sports Blog, will rewind the race from the day before and let you know where all the Chase contenders finished and where they are in the point standings.
Jeff Gordon: Jeff Gordon started Sunday’s race from the 15th position and cracked the top 10 by Lap 25. He had no issues during the race, and ultimately led the last 14 laps at the 1.5 mile oval including the final one to capture his first win at Homestead-Miami Speedway for himself and Hendrick Motorsports. Gordon wrapped up the season ranked 10th in the standings, 97 points shy of first place.
Clint Bowyer: Bowyer started Sunday from the 6th starting position and finished second. He led no laps and no had issues during the race. Bowyer ended the season second in points, 39 points behind Keselowski.
Greg Biffle: After contact with the No. 11 and No. 20 during practice on Sunday, Biffle was forced to give up his starting position and head to the back with his backup car. Biffle wrapped up the season with a fifth place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 400, after maneuvering his way through the field and conserving fuel in the end. Biffle wrapped up the season moving up two spots in the points to fifth place, 68 points out of first.
Martin Truex, Jr: Truex started the day in second and took the lead on lap 117. He led 11 laps on the day and closed on the leader to within a few tenths of a second in the closing laps of the 400 miles, but a late race brush with the a wall and fuel stop kept the No. 56 NAPA Toyota from visiting victory lane. The NAPA Know How Pit Crew won the 2012 Most Valuable Pit Crew Award, voted on by the Sprint Cup crew chiefs. Truex finished the 2012 season dropping one spot in the standings, to 11th, 101 points out of first place.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin Harvick drove to an eighth place finish in the final race of the 2012 season. After starting the race from the 23rd position, the No. 29 had some handling issues but the Budweiser Crew fixed it up. Harvick led no laps. The top-10 finish allowed Harvick to maintain his eighth place position in the pont standings, 79 points shy of first place.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale event at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday. He finished the season 12th in the championship standings.
Tony Stewart: Tony Stewart finished 17th after dealing with an ill-handling racecar.Stewart finished the 2012 season ninth in the standings, 89 points behind first.
Matt Kenseth: In his final race for Roush-Fenway Racing, Kenseth finished 18th after starting the 267 lap race from the 11th spot. While he did lead two laps, it was an uneventful day for the No. 17. Kenseth, who will be heading to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013, finished the 2012 season, seventh in points just 76 points out of first place.
Kasey Kahne: Kasey Kahne started the day 12th, and cracked the top 10 immediately. He led a total of seven laps during the 267 lap race. Kahne had some issues when he made his way down pit road, too fast entering, and had to serve a pass-through penalty. He finished 21st and ranks fourth in the final standings.
Denny Hamlin: Hamlin qualified the No. 11 Toyota in the the 41st spot so when he was involved in a practice accident with the No. 20 and No. 16 wasn’t that big of a deal. Hamlin was able to drive through the field early in the race. He found himself just inside the top 20 much of the day, but would fall a lap off the pace. He would finish the final race of the season in 24th position. He lost one spot in the points and finished 6th in the final standings.
Jimmie Johnson: It was an eventful day for the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Racing Chevrolet. He led 25 laps during the day and kept the Chase battle close throughout the day. During a pit stop one of the crew members missed a lug nut and the No. 48 had to come back to pit road to serve a pass through penalty. Shortly after, the No. 48 Chevy became to emit smoke and the No. 48 spend the remainder of the race in the garage where the team attempted to repair an issue with the rear gear. Johnson finished 36th and ranked third in the standings.