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Edwards wins race, Johnson title in Homestead

NASCAR Sprint Cup finale
Sunday, November 16, 2008

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Jimmie Johnson hoists the trophy for  his 3rd straight NASCAR Sprint Cup title
Getty Images for NASCAR

Jimmie Johnson has accomplished racing's version of the hat trick.... three championships in a row.
   
He did it with a 15th -place finish in southern Florida's grand finale for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Carl Edwards won the battle, so to speak, but Johnson won the war.

On a day when he only needed a 36th-place finish to clinch his third title in a row, Johnson brought his Lowe's Chevrolet into the thick of the battle, steadily clicking off position after position in the 267-lap race.

Johnson's championship run was the first three-peat in NASCAR since Cale Yarborough did it 30 years ago.

While Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus were the men of the hour, hard-charging Edwards, for the second time this season, coaxed extra mileage out of his Ford and hung on to win the race on fuel mileage. However, it was not a fuel mileage fluke. Edwards led the most laps and was clearly the fastest cat on the track all day and into the night.

Carl Edwards battled his Roush Racing teammate Matt Kenseth for the lead late in the going, with Edwards eventually winning the fuel mileage race by making it to the end without stopping.
CIA Stock Photo
Trailing Edwards across the finish line were Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Travis Kvapil, Casey Mears, Tony Stewart and Martin Truex, Jr.

The win was Edwards' ninth of the year and cemented Carl's position as a serious challenger to Johnson for the championship next year.

A slew of caution flags in the last 100 laps kept the outcome in doubt until the very end, when leader Matt Kenseth ran out of fuel with just a couple laps left. Edwards, as he did once before this season, proved he can be just as smooth letting up on the gas pedal as he is in mashing it down. He backed off just enough to finish in front of the field.

David Reutimann, the first-time pole winner, led a lap at the start before former champion Kenseth passed him.
 
Beautiful, balmy, South Florida weather welcomed the drivers as they streaked around the Homestead-Miami track at 180 miles an hour. Johnson, who started 30th, charged towards the front right from the git-go. At just 10 laps, he had moved past nine drivers to 21st position.

Edwards, Johnson's only threat for his third championship in three seasons, moved past Kenseth for the lead on the 13th lap. Edwards was flat-out-all-caution-to-the wind, planning to give it everything he had in the season finale.
 
Johnson was 18th by Lap 19.  He was 17th when Edwards, the leader, pitted on the 51st lap. Harvick led a lap when Edwards pitted. Montoya also led a lap when the field started pitting.
 
Once the pitting cycle ended, Edwards was back out front and Johnson had gained two spots to 15th.

The top 10 at 60 laps were Edwards, Harvick, David Ragan, Reutimann, Truex, McMurray, Kenseth, Mears, Stewart and Jeff Burton.

Johnson, meanwhile, had moved into 14th spot and was continuing his charge to the front. The first caution of the afternoon waved on the 68th lap when Aric Almirola spun on the frontstretch.   

At 90 laps, Edwards was in control, followed by Ragan, Harvick, Reutimann, Stewart, McMurray, Bowyer, Kenseth, Mears and Hamlin. Johnson had worked his way to 11th.

By the halfway point, it was clear Edwards had come to Florida with one thing in mind --- winning the race.

It was Edwards, Ragan, Stewart, Hamlin, Reutimann, Harvick, McMurray, Earnhardt, Johnson and Gordon. Johnson had come from 30th to ninth in 134 laps.

Results

FIN

ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 4 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 195/10 267 Running
2 5 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 175/5 267 Running
3 7 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 165/0 267 Running
4 37 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 165/5 267 Running
5 27 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 155/0 267 Running
6 18 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 150/0 267 Running
7 19 28 Travis Kvapil Ford All Sport 146/0 267 Running
8 12 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST 142/0 267 Running
9 13 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 143/5 267 Running
10 10 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 134/0 267 Running
11 43 10 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Valvoline 130/0 267 Running
12 15 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft 127/0 267 Running
13 25 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 124/0 267 Running
14 39 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters 121/0 267 Running
15 30 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 123/5 267 Running
16 2 83 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull 115/0 267 Running
17 11 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Juicy Fruit Slim Pack 117/5 267 Running
18 23 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 109/0 267 Running
19 8 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 106/0 266 In Pit
20 1 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 108/5 266 Running
21 29 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Alltel 100/0 266 Running
22 33 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Bad Boy Mowers 97/0 266 Running
23 31 25 Brad Keselowski Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 94/0 266 Running
24 6 6 David Ragan Ford AAA 91/0 266 Running
25 3 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 93/5 266 Running
26 14 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam 85/0 266 Running
27 34 38 David Gilliland Ford Digital TV Transition 82/0 266 Running
28 24 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Hellmann's 79/0 266 Running
29 21 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 76/0 266 Running
30 36 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Johns Manville / Menards 73/0 266 Running
31 9 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 70/0 266 Running
32 20 84 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 67/0 265 Running
33 35 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Liberty Medical 64/0 265 Running
34 26 01 Regan Smith * Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group 61/0 265 Running
35 40 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 58/0 265 Running
36 16 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 55/0 264 Running
37 32 70 Tony Raines Chevrolet Haas Automation 52/0 264 Running
38 42 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 49/0 264 Running
39 28 45 Chad McCumbee Dodge Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil 46/0 263 Running
40 17 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 43/0 259 Running
41 22 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / AMP Energy 40/0 246 Wheel Bearings
42 41 347 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie 37/0 222 Running
43 38 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 34/0 207 Accident

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