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Stewart outdrives Edwards to win Sprint Cup title

by Mark J. Cipolloni
Sunday, November 20, 2011

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Stewart celebrates a well deserved victory
Getty Images for NASCAR
It came down to the two leaders in points before the day started and it stayed that way right until the last lap.  Despite an early incident that damaged the front of his car, Tony Stewart drove the wheels off his No. 14 Chevy and won the Ford 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on the 1.5-mile Homestead oval Sunday night over the No. 99 Ford of Carl Edwards. 

The two ended in a tie for points but Stewart won the tie-breaker based on having more wins. 

It was Stewart's third Sprint Cup title and it sent Edward's home the bridesmaid again.

"We led the most laps but Stewart rose up to occasion and beat us fair and square tonight.  That was all I had at the end.  I had nothing for Tony.  That's as hard as I could drive this race car," said Edwards.

Stewart passed 76 cars in the race, coming from behind several times, on his way to victory.

Stewart keeps Edwards at bay
Getty Images for NASCAR
With four new tires to Edwards’ two—thanks to a strategic gamble that paid off when rain hit the 1.5-mile speedway for the second time on Lap 213 of 267—Stewart gradually pulled away after a restart on Lap 231 and claimed his third Cup title, bookending the five straight championships won by Jimmie Johnson from 2006-2010.

The victory was Stewart’s fifth of the season, his fifth 10 Chase for the Sprint Cup races and the 44th of his career. The bonus points for winning allowed Stewart to make up a three-point deficit to Edwards. They ended the Chase tied at the top of the standings. Stewart claimed the title with five victories this season to Edwards’ one.

Martin Truex Jr. ran third on Sunday, followed by Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon.

Stewart’s quest for a third title was derailed early when contact with debris—of origin unknown—punched a hole in the grille of his No. 14 Chevrolet the size of a small saucer. Stewart fell to 40th in the running order, while his crew made repairs under caution on Lap 17.

By Lap 32, Stewart had worked his way up to 23rd.

"They’re going to feel like (expletive), after we kick their ass after this," Stewart radioed during the run through traffic.

Dave Blaney’s spin off Turn 4 on Lap 34 halted the progress of the No. 14 Chevy. Stewart brought the car back to pit road under the yellow, and during a lengthy pit stop, his crew applied tape to hold the grille in place.

Stewart dropped to 38th in the process, but during a long green-flag run that included a cycle of pits stops, Stewart passed car after car, typically powering harder and farther into Turn 3 than any other driver on the track.

"They (Edwards’ team) are going to really feel worse when we’ve been to the back twice," Stewart said.
On Lap 67, Stewart passed Denny Hamlin for 12th.

"Where are we at in this contest?" Stewart asked crew chief Darian Grubb.

Told he was running 12th, Stewart replied, "Ah, yes, this is not over!"

True to his word, Stewart continued his charge toward the front of the field, and by the time rain forced a long delay 109 laps into the race, Stewart had climbed to fifth, with only Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Truex between him and Edwards, who picked up his 87th lap led right before the stoppage.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 15 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 47/1 267 Running
2 1 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 44/2 267 Running
3 2 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 42/1 267 Running
4 6 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 41/1 267 Running
5 7 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 40/1 267 Running
6 17 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 38/0 267 Running
7 3 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 37/0 267 Running
8 21 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 37/1 267 Running
9 10 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 35/0 267 Running
10 31 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 35/1 267 Running
11 11 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 33/0 267 Running
12 14 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 32/0 267 Running
13 16 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 31/0 267 Running
14 26 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 30/0 267 Running
15 12 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Best Buy 29/0 267 Running
16 23 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Duracell / Menards 28/0 267 Running
17 24 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 27/0 267 Running
18 28 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 26/0 267 Running
19 32 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 25/0 267 Running
20 5 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 25/1 266 Running
21 43 71 Mike Bliss Ford School Media 0 266 Running
22 40 38 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 0 266 Running
23 19 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 22/1 266 Running
24 25 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 20/0 266 Running
25 20 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 0 266 Running
26 39 13 Casey Mears Toyota Hard Rock Vodka 18/0 266 Running
27 35 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Reese Towpower 17/0 266 Running
28 34 135 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Big Red 16/0 265 Running
29 41 32 T.J. Bell * Ford Green Smoke 0 265 Running
30 42 36 Geoffrey Bodine Chevrolet Luke & Associates 14/0 263 Running
31 27 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 14/1 261 Running
32 9 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 13/1 261 Running
33 38 34 David Gilliland Ford Front Row Motorsports 12/1 245 Running
34 4 22 Kurt Busch Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 10/0 220 Running
35 8 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M Novec 10/1 190 Engine
36 22 51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Thank A Teacher Today / Security Benefit 0 153 Accident
37 29 84 Cole Whitt Toyota Kangaroo Express 0 153 Accident
38 13 6 David Ragan Ford UPS My Choice 6/0 81 Engine
39 18 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 5/0 72 Engine
40 37 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves 0 29 Vibration
41 30 55 J.J. Yeley Ford Ingersoll Rand 3/0 25 Vibration
42 36 30 David Stremme Chevrolet Inception Motorsports 2/0 14 Ignition
43 33 66 Michael McDowell Toyota HP Racing LLC 1/0 13 Drive Shaft

* Denotes Rookie

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