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Homestead: Kenseth wins, Johnson clinches 2nd title

Nextel Cup
Sunday, November 18, 2007

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2007 champion Jimmie Johnson with Brian France
CIA Stock Photo

HOMESTEAD, FL – Matt Kenseth spoiled Jimmie Johnson's bid for his fifth consecutive victory, but the defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion rolled home seventh on Sunday to capture his second championship on a memorable day at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Kenseth's win, for example, was somewhat of a going-away present for longtime crew chief Robbie Reiser, who becomes General Manager of Roush-Fenway Racing's five-car stable next season. It capped a season in which Kenseth made the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship and fell out of sight after the first five of the 10-race season showdown. He roared back to post five consecutive top-five finishes, including Sunday's hard-earned win over the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The race was also the last for one of NASCAR's grittiest competitors, Ricky Rudd, who had 906 starts in his career, including Sunday's race. In a touch of irony, Rudd started his final race in a car owned by Robert Yates, one of the sport's long-standing, successful car owners, who has turned the reigns to Robert Yates Racing over to his son, Doug.

Fans will remember this one also as the race four-time champion Jeff Gordon established a new NASCAR record with 30 top-10 finishes in a season. Gordon finished fourth in Sunday's run, 77 points behind his teammate Johnson in the championship chase.

Rick Hendrick had a memorable day as well. The popular owner was beaming from ear to ear after his cars finished 1-2 in the championship. First-place point fund money is more than $6 million dollars. It was the seventh car owner championship for Hendrick.

Trailing Kenseth across the finish line were Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Gordon, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex, Jr., Johnson, Jeff Burton, veteran Mark Martin and rookie David Ragan.

Both Busch and Burton rallied back from problems to finish in the top 10. Former champion Tony Stewart, who challenged for most of the day, lost control of his Chevy with 14 laps to go and slammed the outside wall to bring out the day's seventh and final caution flag.

Truex, who ran strong and led the race at one time, became a casualty of pit crew strategy on the final stop. His team put on two tires instead of four hoping to help Truex with track position. It might have had it not been for the final caution. Once the race was resumed, drivers who had changed four tires zipped past Truex like he was standing still.

Johnson charged away when the green flag waved and battled Ryan Newman until he led a lap for the five bonus points going to every driver leading a lap. He quickly backed off a little and settled in for his championship chase.

Jeff Burton brushed the wall after just six laps, which cost him a lap when he pitted.

Dale Earnhardt's day, his last as a driver for his late father's Dale Earnhardt, Inc, team, was a dismal one. Dale, Jr., misjudged his speed coming into the pits, slid off in the grass and was spun by Kyle Busch when he pulled back on track at the pit entrance.

Things went from bad top worse for Dale, Jr., on a later restart when Jeff Burton hit the No. 8 from the rear, sending it into the outside wall on the front straightaway.

Kenseth, one of the hottest drivers in the season's last five events, was a contender from the beginning, swapping the lead with Kurt Busch and Newman. Newman lost a lot of track position when he spun on lap 149.

Kenseth continued to flex his speed at the halfway point while Johnson settled in back in the ninth position. Denny Hamlin showed some speed at this point in the race and Martin Truex, Jr. was running in the top five.

Gordon had moved into the top five but didn't appear to be a threat to win the race. Johnson, at this point, seemed to be biding time, logging laps and trying to stay out of trouble.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 4 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT NANO Technology 195/10 267 Running
2 5 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 175/5 267 Running
3 32 11 Denny Hamlin Chevrolet FedEx Express 170/5 267 Running
4 11 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 160/0 267 Running
5 10 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 155/0 267 Running
6 15 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 155/5 267 Running
7 1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 151/5 267 Running
8 9 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 142/0 267 Running
9 6 01 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 138/0 267 Running
10 7 6 David Ragan * Ford AAA "Show Your Card and Save" 139/5 267 Running
11 30 40 David Stremme Dodge Target 130/0 267 Running
12 23 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 132/5 267 Running
13 37 16 Greg Biffle Ford Dish Network 124/0 267 Running
14 25 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 126/5 267 Running
15 33 42 Juan Montoya * Dodge Texaco / Havoline 118/0 267 Running
16 21 25 Casey Mears Chevrolet National Guard / GMAC 120/5 267 Running
17 26 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS 112/0 266 Running
18 2 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL 114/5 266 Running
19 8 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 106/0 266 Running
20 18 5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST 108/5 266 Running
21 38 88 Ricky Rudd Ford Snickers 100/0 266 Running
22 27 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 97/0 266 Running
23 36 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 94/0 266 Running
24 3 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dodge Dealers Lifetime Powertrain Warranty / UAW 91/0 265 Running
25 35 00 David Reutimann * Toyota Burger King 88/0 265 Running
26 34 66 Jeremy Mayfield Chevrolet Best Buy 85/0 265 Running
27 41 7 Robby Gordon Ford Camping World/ RVs.com 82/0 264 Running
28 43 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft 79/0 264 Running
29 42 96 Tony Raines Chevrolet DLP HDTV 76/0 264 Running
30 14 20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet The Home Depot 73/0 264 Running
31 24 18 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Interstate Batteries 70/0 263 Running
32 12 38 David Gilliland Ford M&M's 67/0 263 Running
33 16 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 64/0 263 Running
34 40 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil 61/0 263 Running
35 39 15 Paul Menard * Chevrolet Johns Manville / Menards 58/0 262 Running
36 13 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser 55/0 261 Running
37 29 06 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 52/0 254 Running
38 31 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Dodge Dealers Lifetime Powertrain Warranty / UAW 49/0 250 Running
39 19 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 46/0 242 Running
40 28 10 Patrick Carpentier Dodge Valvoline / Stanley Tools 43/0 225 Running
41 22 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Yellow Trans. 40/0 157 Out of Race
42 17 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 37/0 154 Out of Race
43 20 36 Johnny Benson Toyota 360 OTC 34/0 73 Out of Race


* Denotes Rookie


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