Posted: Sunday, November 20th 2011 at 9:19pm
Tony "Smoke" Stewart wins it all in NASCAR
By The Associated Press
Tony Stewart celebrates his race win and championship in victory lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Photo courtesy of US Presswire
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Tony Stewart is the king of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing for the third time in his career -- but first as a car owner.
Stewart, who didn't win a race during the regular Sprint Cup season, won five of the 10 races in the Chase for the Championship. Stewart held off Carl Edwards to win the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead to win the title. Edwards finished second in the race and in the Chase.
Stewart went into Sunday's race trailing Edwards by three points but confident he'd be the winner at race's end. He vowed to drive with nothing to lose and did just that to win the title for Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart also won the title in 2002 and 2005.
Stewart suffered early damage to the front of his Chevrolet, dropping him to 40th in the field. But Stewart plowed his way back to the front, using aggressive three and four-wide passes to get back into contention.
Stewart benefited from pit strategy by crew chief Darian Grubb and a brief rain shower that allowed Stewart to save gas as the cars ticked off laps under yellow. He passed three cars on the restart with 37 laps to go, and Edwards finished a helpless second.
They actually finished tied in the final standings, but Stewart won the title on tiebreaker: He had five wins this season to Edwards' one.
He becomes the first owner/driver to win the championship since Alan Kulwicki. He also ends Jimmie Johnson's record five-year title run.
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