For fans who have long been clamoring for an exciting climax to a Chase battle, it will be extremely difficult to top the showdown Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards happened to have at Homestead Sunday evening under an overcast South Florida sky. Both men battled tooth and nail all race long, not just for a race win, but for a potential championship. But at the end of the day, “Smoke” rose to the occasion, capping off an incredible Chase run, winning five out of ten Chase races, including the Ford 400 on Sunday.
For much of the first half of the day, the race was the Carl Edwards show, as he was dominating the first half of the evening after starting from the pole. Stewart, on the other hand, fell back to 40th-place in the early stages of the race after a hole was found in the grill of his #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy Impala courtesy of debris from Kurt Busch’s busted transmission. The Columbus, Indiana native at that point began blazing through the field, pedal to the metal, passing car after car to get back to the top-10.
Finally, Tony Stewart made his way up to the front. However, more adversity was to be thrown the way of the would-be champion. After one slow pit stop and an air gun issue on another botched pit stop, Stewart was mired outside of the top-10. But Stewart quickly charged his way up to second on two tires, right behind his championship rival, Carl Edwards.
On the final round of green flag stops, Tony Stewart made a bold gamble to try and stretch out his fuel to go on one more stop. Just as he got back onto the track, the owner-driver for Stewart-Haas racing caught a lucky break with a timely caution for rain before he could go a lap down. Edwards, who was going to be seven laps shy of making it, was forced to stop under the caution flag to top off his fuel tank. Stewart would be in fourth-place on the restart with his championship rival two spots back in sixth.
On the ensuing restart, Kyle Busch had the race lead on strategy, but he was no match for a hard-charging Stewart or Edwards. For the final 30 laps, the top two drivers in the championship race battled tooth and nail, giving no quarter as the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 team fought off a determined Carl Edwards in the closing laps to not only win the race, but the championship with style. Both drivers actually tied in the final standings, but by virtue of Stewart’s five wins over one win by Edwards, the Columbus, Indiana native won his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, and his first as an owner-driver, becoming the first owner-driver to do so since the late Alan Kulwicki in 1992.
Martin Truex, Jr., Matt Kenseth, and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five. Clint Bowyer, in his final race for Richard Childress Racing, was sixth while Kasey Kahne was seventh. Kevin Harvick was eighth, while Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton rounded out the top-10.
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