NASCAR has a new face, and its name is Brad Keselowski.
The 2012 Ford EcoBoost resulted in a Jeff Gordon victory, but the Chase for the Cup concluded in one for Keselowski. The 28-year-old driver only had to finish 15th to clinch the crown. He must have been in the mood for a photo finish, though, as he claimed none other than 15th place at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Of course, he didn't end up needing it.
Jimmie Johnson, who had won five of the last six NASCAR Cup Series championships and trailed Keselowski by 20 points going into the race, finished 36th. He performed admirably for the vast majority of the race, and even after his abysmal 32nd-place ending to the AdvoCare 500 last week, Johnson still had a chance to triumph. Engine trouble, though, killed any shot at a miracle.
According to Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press, the former champ told reporters before the Ford EcoBoost began, “My goal is to keep the pressure on Brad and see what happens. I mean, it isn't over until the checkered flag falls.”
Keselowski didn’t feel that pressure. He tweeted of his effort to hold off Johnson prior to the race:
Woke up this morning trying to understand how a driver who has 2 finish 15th at worst is under more pressure than 1 who has 2 win.#Confused— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) November 16, 2012
After locking up his first Sprint Cup Series title, no one is wondering why Keselowski was so confident leading into Sunday’s showdown.
And, by the way, Johnson won his first championship at the age of 31. Get used to seeing Keselowski on top of the Sprint Cup standings.
Here are the results of the season finale as well as the Chase for the Cup standings, which are now set in stone.
Ford EcoBoost 400 Results
Check out the full results here (via ESPN.com).
|3||Ryan Newman ||39||Chevrolet|
|4||Kyle Busch ||18||Toyota|
|5||Greg Biffle ||16||Ford|
|6||Martin Truex, Jr. ||56||Toyota|
|9||Kurt Busch ||78||Chevrolet|
|10||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||88||Chevrolet|
|11||Paul Menard ||27||Chevrolet|
|14||Joey Logano ||20||Toyota|
|19||Jeff Burton||31||Chevrolet |
Chase for the Cup Standings
|1||Brad Keselowski ||---|
|2||Clint Bowyer ||-39|
|3||Jimmie Johnson ||-40|
|4||Kasey Kahne ||-55|
|5||Greg Biffle ||-68|
|6||Denny Hamlin ||-71|
|7||Matt Kenseth ||-76|
|8||Kevin Harvick ||-79|
|9||Tony Stewart ||-89|
|10||Jeff Gordon ||-97|
|11||Martin Truex, Jr. ||-101|
|12||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||-155|
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.