Entering the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway all Brad Keselowski had to do was finish 16th or better no matter what Jimmie Johnson did. Johnson had to put all the marbles on the table for a shot at his sixth championship.
Keselowski went into Sunday with a twenty point lead and just needed to have a solid day. But no one was expecting the day Johnson would have. Keselowski and Johnson ran in the top 10 for the first half of the race. Johnson would eventually take the lead with pit strategy and taking two tires. Keselowski would run around 10th but all that was for not as the race came to a close.
As the race came to a close and fuel strategy came into play Keselowski stretched a fuel run only to run out of gas on lap 60 but was fortunate to make it back to pit road. The mistake did not cost the team but a mistake did cost the 48 team a few laps later.
While making what would be their final pit stop of the day Johnson’s team missed a lugnut and had to make a second stop under green. Johnson would cycle around to 25th position and one lap down but then he got the nail in the coffin for his championship hopes.
On lap 39 Johnson blew his engine. The team immediately took the car to the garage officially taking the 48 team out of the championship.
Keselowski would officially finish 15th of Sunday as Johnson finished 36th. Johnson would also finish third in points behind Clint Bowyer, 40 markers behind.
Jeff Gordon would go to win his first race at Homestead in his career.
Keselowski would ride out the remaining laps and take home Penske Racing‘s first Sprint Cup championship. It is also Brad Keselowski’s first Sprint Cup championship as well.
Roger Penske on winning his first Sprint Cup championship, “Top of the mark.”
Dodge, Penkse Racing’s manufacturer in 2012, also went out in a bang. Dodge is leaving NASCAR at the end of this season and will not be returning in 2013. This is Dodge’s first championship since 1979 with Richard Petty. This championship does help the manufactures chance of returning in the near future and everybody hopes that is the case.
Brad Keselowski has now won his first Sprint Cup championship in only his third season in NASCAR’s top series. This is also the first time a crew chief (Paul Wolfe)/driver (Brad Keselowski) combination have both won a Nationwide and Sprint Cup championship.
So Brad Keselowski and Penske Racing win their first Sprint Cup championship in a season where many said the team was too young to accomplish the task but they proved the naysayers wrong. This is Brad Keselowski and Penkse Racing’s second NASCAR championship after winning the Nationwide championship in 2010. Let’s enjoy a new face at the top of the sport. Keselowski is certainly a breathe of fresh air.