Chasing the Chase – Week 10: Gordon ends on a high note; Keselowski cruises to first championship

by SM Staff On Tue, Nov. 20, 2012

[media-credit name=”David Yeazell” align=”alignright” width=”242″][/media-credit]After a controversial race last week at Phoenix, Jeff Gordon stretched his fuel mileage and won Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This was Gordon’s second win of the season and the 87th of his career.

Gordon has won at least one race at every active Sprint Cup Series track except Kentucky Speedway.

“There’s a lot of reasons why it’s special. This is a big win. I mean, we’ve been really close here in the past years with some good race cars, but just coming up a little bit short. And today we just did all the right things. With the way this team has handled things and fought through things and some great moments and some pretty low moments, to be able to end the season like this, pretty amazing..” Gordon said.

Clint Bowyer finished second and moved up into second place in the series standings.

“Frustrated and bummed out. I would’ve loved to have won that race, especially to beat him (Jeff Gordon).” Bowyer said. “To be able to bounce back through all of the adversity and overcome all of that and finish second is just a great feeling.”

Greg Biffle finished fifth and also finished fifth in the standings.

“On one hand it’s exciting for the team. This was our first year as a full team and I’m happy for Matt Puccia to make the Chase and finish fifth. On the other hand, it’s a little disappointing that we didn’t win the title or get closer than we did, so it’s kind of bittersweet.” Biffle said.

Martin Truex Jr. finished 6th, Kevin Harvick 8th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 10th, Brad Keselowski 15th, Tony Stewart 17th, Matt Kenseth 18th, Kasey Kahne 21st, Denny Hamlin 24th and Jimmie Johnson finished 36th.

Keselowski’s 15th place finish was enough to capture his first Sprint Cup Series championship and also captured team owner Roger Penske his first title in NASCAR’s premier series.

“It’s the human capital in this organization and I can’t tell you what a thrill it is for me. It was a goal I’ve had for many years and been able to make it happen now. It’s just amazing. For Dodge, obviously for Miller Lite and Pennzoil, everybody the Shell guys and all our great sponsors to think about that we won this championship is amazing.” Penske said.

Keselowski’s championship came in his 125th start, the fewest since Jeff Gordon captured his first of four titles in 1995 in 93 starts. Keselowski is the eighth-youngest competitor to win a first Sprint Cup championship at age 28.

“It means the world, it really does. I’ve got the best team in racing and I’m just so thrilled to be a part of it. From the top down, Roger Penske, Paul Wolfe, everybody else, the crew guys and my family, that means so much. I couldn’t do it without the support of everybody on the Miller Lite Dodge.” Keselowski said.

Dodge now has its fifth series championship and first since 1975 with Richard Petty although Dodge will not be returning in 2013.

For Johnson, it was disappointing race after a pit road miscue and then mechanical problems a few laps later that sent him to the garage.

“I have a lot to be proud of this year and so does this race team, and I can’t thank everybody. I need to thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. Every man and woman there put in countless hours giving me great equipment, the support from Lowe’s, my fan base, Chevrolet and my family. We did all we could and came up a little short.” Johnson said.

The 36th place finished dropped Johnson from second place in the standings to third.

“Definitely disappointing, but again, I feel that we had the speed; we had 80 percent of the Chase that we needed to have. So it’s hard to be real down on myself or real down on where we finished. These championships are special, and it takes an entire 10-race , clean 10 races to win one of these things. We hurt ourselves in Phoenix, and then today didn’t help.” Johnson said.

Official Chase Standings/Stats
After race 10 of 10
Ford EcoBoost 400, Homestead-Miami

Pos. Driver (+/-) Wins Top-5 Top-10 Bon. Avg St Ave Fin Laps Ttl Laps Points Bnd
1 Brad Keselowski 0 2 3 8 14 16.2 6.3 3176 3178 2400 0
2 Clint Bowyer 2 1 4 8 9 6.7 9.4 3169 3178 2361 -39
3 Jimmie Johnson -1 2 6 7 18 9.7 10.7 3097 3178 2360 -40
4 Kasey Kahne -1 0 5 6 5 7.7 10 3172 3178 2345 -55
5 Greg Biffle 2 0 2 6 2 12.3 11.6 3135 3178 2332 -68
6 Denny Hamlin -1 1 3 4 10 14.3 13.3 3142 3178 2329 -71
7 Matt Kenseth -1 2 3 3 14 12.3 13.3 3146 3178 2324 -76
8 Kevin Harvick 0 1 1 3 5 18.4 12.4 3147 3178 2321 -79
9 Tony Stewart 0 0 2 4 3 19.7 14.1 3169 3178 2311 -89
10 Jeff Gordon 1 1 4 6 10 11.8 12.2 3089 3178 2303 -97
11 Martin Truex Jr. -1 0 1 5 1 8.7 14.2 2867 3178 2299 -101
12 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 0 0 0 3 1 21.7 18.7 2727 3178 2245 -155

*Note: These stats consist of only the final 10 chase races.

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