Carl Edwards did everything he had to do to put himself in position to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, but a 15th place finish by Jimmy Johnson was enough to secure the title.
Johnson joins Cale Yarborough as the only drivers to win the Cup title three times in a row, a feet not even matched by the King himself, Richard Petty.
Edwards finished the year with a series high ninth win.
You can read the full story at NASCAR.com, but here’s some excerpts:
Edwards led a race-high 157 laps, ran out of gas as he crossed the finish line, but still won Sunday’s season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His series-high ninth win of the year wasn’t enough to wrest away the Sprint Cup title.
“It’s the ultimate reward. We worked so hard to put ourselves in this position,” Johnson said. “It’s just total teamwork and dedication. There were times this year when things were dark, but we buckled down and got to work and that’s what it was really all about.”
Yarborough won his three titles 30 years ago, under a different scoring system and in a very different NASCAR. He accomplished his feat when drivers scraped together the cash they needed to race, and the champion was the guy on top at the end of a long grueling season.
They’ve (Hendrick Motorsports) also gotten very rich along the way: Johnson has won more than $2 million in the 10 Chase races this year. Yarborough notched a combined $1.63 million in all three of his championship seasons.
When Edwards won back-to-back races at Atlanta and Texas to take a bite out of Johnson’s points lead, Johnson rebounded with a win at Phoenix last week to make Sunday’s drive a mere formality. He needed only to finish 36th or better to win the title, but got off to a rocky start when he qualified 30th.
He (Johnson) stopped for gas and tires with 13 laps to go, leading to his mid-pack finish.
Edwards pushed it to the limit, knowing he had to win the race, lead the most laps and pray for Johnson to have some trouble to win his first title. But he was a gracious runner-up, and after his trademark celebratory backflip, he walked over to Johnson’s passing car on the track to congratulate him.
Edwards’ win Sunday chopped 72 points off of Johnson’s margin and he was optimistic as he crossed the finish line, radioing his Roush Fenway Racing team “we’ll definitely get them next year.”
The top ten:
Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Travis Kvapil, Casey Mears, Tony Stewart, and Martin Truex.