Jimmie Johnson Wins Race & Championship, Video Highlights [Gallery]
Jimmie Johnson joined NASCAR’s most exclusive club on Sunday, winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to claim his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
That puts the driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on par with icons Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
"You’re a good man, you’re a great champion, and now you’re a seven-time champion," crew chief Chad Knaus radioed to Johnson, who grabbed the lead from Kyle Larson through Turns 1 and 2 during the first and only attempt at a two-lap overtime.
Johnson pulled away to win by .466 seconds over Larson. Polesitter Kevin Harvick ran third, followed by Championship 4 contender Joey Logano, who finished second in the final standings on the strength of his fourth-place run.
"Oh, my gosh, there is no, no way on earth," said Johnson, who picked up his first victory at Homestead, his fifth of the season and the 80th of his career. "Just beyond words. Just didn't think the race was unfolding for us like we needed to be the champs, but we just kept our heads in the game. Chad called a great strategy, made some great adjustments for the short runs.
"Luck came our way and we were able to win the race and win the championship. So grateful for the opportunity, and so thankful and blessed. I am at a loss for words."
On a restart with 10 laps to go, Edwards tried to block Logano into Turn 1, and the resulting nine-car wreck left Edwards’ No. 19 Toyota crippled against the outside wall. The wreck knocked Edwards out of the race and left him fourth in the final standings.
Johnson, who didn’t lead a lap until he beat Larson to the stripe on the final restart, had to overcome more than his share of adversity to reach his holy grail. In the first place, he surrendered his 14th-place starting position and took the green flag from the rear of the field after NASCAR discovered unapproved modifications to the "A" posts of the No. 48 Chevy during pre-race inspection.
By the time the first caution flag waved on Lap 27, however, Johnson had driven up to 17th place. But less-than-stellar pit stops kept him mired in traffic behind the other three championship contenders for the majority of the race—until an adjustment under caution on Lap 172 brought his car to life.
Notes: Tony Stewart finished 22nd, two laps down in his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race… Toyota won its first manufacturers championship in the series, in the car maker’s 10th season in NASCAR’s top division.
Story Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations