Sunday, November 20, 2016

Home Sweet Homestead Cup Champion Facts

Home Sweet Homestead Cup Champion Facts (#NASCAR) Homestead-Miami Speedway has become dear to the hearts of several champions who were crowned at the 1.5-mile track. In fact, over the past half dozen years the championship has been decided under the South Florida sun. 

(L-R) Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil/AAA Ford, Jimmie Johnson, driver of
the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Arris Surfboard Toyota, and
Kyle Busch,driver of the #18 M&M's Core Toyota talk to the media during media day for
the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship at the Loews Hotel on 11/17/2016 in
Miami Beach, Florida. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Here’s a look at some recent memorable title performances:

2010 – Jimmie Johnson Comes from Behind to Lock Up Fifth Straight Title

Entering the season finale, Jimmie Johnson trailed Denny Hamlin by 15 points in the championship battle. However, an early race spin caused damage to Hamlin’s machine and he was only able to recover for a 14th place finish. Kevin Harvick, third in points entering the race, faced his own problems when he was penalized for speeding on pit road and ultimately finished third. Johnson came home second.

The winner of the race? 2016 Championship 4 driver Carl Edwards.

2011 – Tony Stewart Wins Third Championship in Dramatic Fashion

Not rain nor debris damage nor a tie could keep Tony Stewart from capturing his third, and final, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Trailing points leader Carl Edwards by three points leading into the race, Stewart virtually needed a win to capture the title – especially considering that Edwards ultimately finished second in the race.

The pair finished the season tied in points, but Stewart held the tiebreaker over Edwards of most wins during the season (five to one).

2012 – Brad Keselowski Holds Off Jimmie Johnson for First Championship

Brad Keselowski didn’t have to come from behind in Miami to land atop the final standings, as he entered the race with a 20-point lead over the then five-time champ. But he did have to be at the top of his game to keep Jimmie Johnson at his back.

Problems in the pits for Johnson late in the race helped Keselowski secure the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship for car owner Roger Penske, who is celebrating 50 years of racing in 2016.

The race also happened to mark the best career finish prior to 2015 in Miami for current Championship 4 driver Kyle Busch, who finished fourth.

2013 – Jimmie Johnson Edges Closer to The Legends with Sixth Title

Jimmie Johnson needed to finish 23rd to capture his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, and after an incident on a restart just shy of the 200-lap mark, that’s preciously where Johnson wound up in line when it all sorted itself out.

Ultimately he would rebound to finish ninth, securing car owner and 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Rick Hendrick a record 11th championship.

2014 – Kevin Harvick Shines as New Chase Elimination Format Makes Debut

When the new Chase format was introduced in 2014, Kevin Harvick became the poster child for the phrase "win and you’re in." Time and time again, Harvick found himself needing a win to advance through the rounds, including in Phoenix the weekend before to secure a spot in the Championship 4. And in the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he needed to win the race in order to capture the championship.

Finishing second in the race? Fellow Championship 4 contender Ryan Newman.

The remaining members of the inaugural Championship 4 finished seventh (Denny Hamlin) and 16th (Joey Logano).

2015 – Kyle Busch Completes Improbable Comeback with First Championship

In arguably one of the greatest comeback stories in sports history, Kyle Busch edged out Kevin Harvick for the race win and his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Busch missed the first 11 races of the season after breaking his right leg and left foot in a NASCAR XFINITY Series crash at the season-opening race in Daytona, but took advantage of the "win and you’re in" Chase format to stun the NASCAR world at season’s end.

And for the second consecutive season of the new Chase format, the champ had to win the race in order to hoist the trophy as he was followed across the finish line by another Championship 4 contender in second place.

2016 Championship 4 driver Joey Logano finished fourth in the race.

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