Tony Stewart capped off one of the greatest championship runs in modern NASCAR history, as he won last night’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With the win, Stewart and Carl Edwards tied in points. However, Stewart won the Cup based off of the tie-breaker for most wins in 2011. The battle between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart came down to the final lap. In the end, Stewart drove alot better than Carl Edwards, and thats what counted in the end.
Tony Stewart had issues early on in the race. After Kurt Busch blew his transmission on Lap 3, somehow a piece of debris came across Tony Stewart’s front grill and damaged the front grill. The team would fix the problem, and move on. Carl Edwards would go on to dominate the first half of the race. He also clinched a bouns point for the most laps lead just past the half-way point of the race.
In the late stages of the race, Stewart made a late-race pitstop. One lap later, the rains came. Despite the rains coming down, the race would eventually resume. After the restart, it was all Stewart from there. During the restart, Tony Stewart made a risky but successful move by passing 3 cars going into Turn 1. He would then go on to take the lead from Martin Truex Jr 3 laps later, and never look back from there.
Tony Stewart went on to take the checkered flag, and the Sprint Cup title from Carl Edwards. After trash-talking for more than 3-weeks, Tony Stewart backed up his trash-talking, and was the man who “put up”, instead of “shutting up”. Tony Stewart is the first owner/driver champion since Alan Kulwikci back in 1992. He is also the first driver to win the final race of the year, as well as the championship since Jeff Gordon did it in 1998.
Lets talk a bit about Carl Edwards. He put up such a great fight, but in the end, it wasn’t meant to be.
When asked about losing the championship, Carl Edwards told reporters that he will be the “best loser NASCAR has ever had”. He also had the following to say about his crew chief Bob Osbourne and his team.
“I just wanted to make sure that Bob knew that I believe he’s the best crew chief here, and that he will be my crew chief for as long as he wants to be, and I’m behind him and his decision 100%. As tough as it is for me, you know, it’s tougher, I think, for those guys, the guys that prepare these cars and determine which things we are going to work on throughout the year and what strategies we are going to use. They make some very, very big decisions that they can’t turn around — inaudible — is great or greater than mine.”
With the season officially over, I can be proud to say that I am glad to be a NASCAR fan. With finishes like these, it only shows how exciting, and action-packed the sport of NASCAR really is. With a new points system, NASCAR changes its way of running races for the better. Because of that change, NASCAR has had one of its best seasons in recent memory, and has also enjoyed a sweet economic boost to boot.
We’ve seen alot of good, bad, and ugly moments this season in NASCAR, and hopefully we will see that again next year. One of NASCAR’s biggest helpers (other than Tony Stewart) of the year has ought to be Dale Earnhardt Jr. After all, Junior’s success is what determines the economic power for NASCAR
In 2010, Dale Earnhardt Jr did not make the chase, and basically was a man that fell off the face of the earth. With a crew chief change for 2011, Steve Letarte and Dale Jr would go on to have success. Despite not winning a race (but coming close to doing so twice), Earnhardt Jr would go on to make the Chase, and with an 11th place finish in yesterday’s Ford 400, finished 7th in the standings. 7th is one of Junior’s best points finishes (in his career).
With 5 first-time winners, some exciting finishes, and some controversy to boot, the 2011 NASCAR season was one of NASCAR’s best seasons in recent memory. The sport has experience economic growth, and drivers like Junior and Tony Stewart have shown that they can still succeed in NASCAR.
Whats going to happen with the sport in 2012? We will have to wait and see what happens…. Stick around and we’ll find out.