Ricky Stenhouse Jr. became the Nationwide Series champion long before the checkered flag dropped Saturday at the championship finale. Stenhouse clinched the title after 30 laps in the Ford 300 when six cars officially dropped out of the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Stenhouse started the race with a comfortable 41-point lead over Elliott Sadler. They were the only drivers still eligible for the title. In order to clinch his first NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, Stenhouse needed to finish 37th or better. The driver of the No. 6 Blackwell Angus Ford did much better than that in the final finishing order with a second place finish in the 200-lap race.
Stenhouse became the third driver in NASCAR Nationwide Series to win the championship a year after winning the Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
“It means the world to bring this championship to Jack [Roush] with the history he has in this sport,” Stenhouse said. “This is one of my favorite race tracks. Man, I wish we came here twice.”
Ford 300 pole-sitter Brad Keselowski held off Stenhouse and Carl Edwards to pick up the win Saturday night. Keselowski notched up his fifth win of the year and 17th of his career by pulling away on the last restart. With the third place finish, Edwards clinched the owners’ title for the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Denny Hamlin finished fifth in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing car to lose the owner’s title to Jack Roush.
“It’s been an up and down year in Cup and on the Nationwide side,” said Keselowski. “Carl [Edwards] put up a good fight but we were fortunate enough to come out on top.”
Tickets for this year’s Ford 400 at 3:00 p.m. — Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are still available. For ticket information, call (866) 409-RACE.
The Field is set for Tomorrow’s Ford 400
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will crown a champion following Sunday’s running of the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart will head into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale tomorrow with only three points separating the two. Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards turned a lap at 175.467 mph in Saturday’s qualifying session to win the pole at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he’ll try Sunday to win his first Sprint Cup championship.
Edwards is a two-time winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and is the defending Ford 400 winner. In seven career starts at Homestead, Edwards has six Top 10 finishes and a 5.7 average finish.
“Thank you to the fans for coming out to support this Ford weekend,” said Edwards. “It is just one lap and tomorrow we have 267 laps and we have some serious competition out there.”
Two-time NASCAR champion Stewart qualified 15th with a lap of 173.332 mph and is trying to become the first owner/driver since Alan Kulwicki in 1992 to win a Sprint Cup Series title. Stewart has 12 starts in South Florida with two wins, three Top 10 finishes and a 12.4 average finish.
“We spent a lot of time today just working on race setup,” Stewart said. “I’m appreciative of NASCAR to get the practice rescheduled from yesterday with everything that is on the line.”
Only one finish guarantees Carl Edwards his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship – a victory in Sunday’s season-finale Ford 400. Just three points separate points leader Carl Edwards and second-place Tony Stewart, a margin so tight, no other finish would clinch the title for Edwards regardless of where Stewart finishes. Stewart owns the tie-breaker (more wins), and therefore could tie and win his third series championship.
It all ends here. Tomorrow, Homestead-Miami Speedway will crown NASCAR’s Champions for the 10th consecutive year during Ford Championship weekend.