Jimmie Johnson is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion for the seventh time in his career after he won Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway.
It all came down to this race to decide a champion, as four drivers, Johnson, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, were still in the Chase. The best finisher was set to be crowned champion, and here is a look at the race's results:
|Ford EcoBoost 400 Results|
|17||Greg Biffle||1 LAP|
|18||Casey Mears||1 LAP|
|19||Danica Patrick||2 LAPS|
|20||Trevor Bayne||2 LAPS|
|21||Landon Cassill||2 LAPS|
|22||Tony Stewart||2 LAPS|
|23||Clint Bowyer||2 LAPS|
|24||Chris Buescher||2 LAPS|
|25||Ryan Newman||4 LAPS|
|26||Ryan Blaney||4 LAPS|
|27||Matt DiBenedetto||4 LAPS|
|28||Michael Annett||4 LAPS|
|29||David Ragan||4 LAPS|
|30||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||6 LAPS|
|31||Jeffrey Earnhardt||7 LAPS|
|32||Reed Sorenson||9 LAPS|
|33||Ty Dillon||10 LAPS|
|34||Carl Edwards*||11 LAPS|
|35||Brad Keselowski||11 LAPS|
|36||Martin Truex Jr.||11 LAPS|
|37||Kasey Kahne||11 LAPS|
|38||Regan Smith||13 LAPS|
|39||Dylan Lupton||18 LAPS|
|40||Aric Almirola||54 LAPS|
|*Denotes chase driver|
Johnson joined Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. as the only drivers in NASCAR history with seven titles, and NASCAR congratulated him on his win:
Edwards looked as though he would come away as champion when he held the second-place spot out of the pits with 11 laps to go during a caution. But on a restart with 10 laps left, he attempted to block the third-place Logano. Heading well inside the track, Logano made contact with Edwards and wrecked him out of the race. Here's the video, via NASCAR:
Even with his season ended, Edwards stayed composed after the wreck, via Lane Casadonte of WTVR:
While Logano also dropped back after Edwards' race and championship hopes were finished, Busch and Johnson moved through the wreck unscathed and were in third and fourth, respectively.
On the restart with six laps to go, Johnson moved into second with a great jump, but it only lasted a lap, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. went into the wall, which prompted the race's seventh caution and forced overtime.
Busch decided to pit, giving up his track position and dropping to 13th, while Johnson remained in front.
He overtook Kyle Larson on the restart for first place and held on to win the title.
All four of the Chase drivers qualified close together to begin with, ensuring there would be early drama right at the start of the race. Busch started in ninth with Edwards right behind him, while Logano and Johnson started in 13th and 14th, respectively.
Kevin Harvick, who was the pole-sitter, led 79 of the race's first 85 laps, but Edwards was the first Chase driver to lead, though it lasted for just six laps before Harvick took it back.
On Lap 86, Logano nabbed the lead but lost out to Edwards by Lap 92. NASCAR provided the highlight:
His lead lasted for 25 laps before Larson overtook him. However, the two swapped leads once more.
Johnson was mired between eighth and 12th and saw his time deficit range from 14 to 26 seconds behind the leader.
Busch looked like he had problems just staying on the track, as seen here via NASCAR:
However, once it was sorted, he made a charge for the top 10.
Edwards and Logano remained near the lead and, on Lap 183, they mixed it up once again behind Larson for second and third. NASCAR tweeted the video:
They were soon joined by Busch in fourth and Johnson, who worked his way into sixth, with 61 to go.
After the fourth caution with 54 laps left, which included a pit stop by many of the leaders, Larson kept the lead, while Busch took second with Logano in third, Edwards in fifth and Johnson still in sixth.
Edwards moved up to third past Logano with 35 laps to go and put Busch in his sights, who still was in second leading the Chase drivers.
Within three laps, Edwards was right on Busch's bumper, and with 25 laps to go, they were side by side. On Turn 3, he moved past Busch on the inside to take the Chase lead while Larson continued to lead the actual race. NASCAR provided the footage:
After building a solid lead, a caution with 15 laps to go gave the contending drivers one last opportunity to pit and get fresh tires, which put all the pressure on the crews.
Edwards remained in second, while Busch's rear-tire changer slipped during the process, dropping him back to sixth. Logano moved back into third, with Johnson in fifth coming out of the pits.
It set up the restart with 10 laps to go, which ended Edwards' season and set up Johnson's championship finish.
Logano finished in fourth, while Busch battled back up to sixth.
Even before his seventh championship, there was little disputing that Johnson is one of the greatest racers in NASCAR history. But with this title on Sunday, he further cemented his place in the upper echelon of racing history.
After a record-tying win and celebration in Victory Lane, an ecstatic Johnson spoke with the media, per Pete Pistone of Motor Racing Network:
Oh my gosh, there is no, no way on earth. Just beyond words. Just didn't think the race was unfolding for us like we needed to do to be the champs, but we just kept our heads in the game. Chad called a great strategy, made some great adjustments for the short runs. Luck came our way and we were able to win the race and win the championship. I wouldn't be here without so many people believing in me and giving me this chance. From my dirt days - my parents first and foremost. My brothers. My wife and family today. Car owners, sponsors, Chevrolet, Lowe's, so many amazing people along the way that believed in me to give me this chance.
For Logano, it was a night of regrets after the restart and finish, per Fox Sports: NASCAR:
Last year's champion, Busch, believed had the race been a few laps longer that he would have been celebrating a second straight title, per Fox Sports: NASCAR:
Edwards, on the other hand, never got to see the finish line, as he explained to Fox Sports: NASCAR his game plan on the doomed restart:
While all four of these drivers will be coming back next year to have another go at the chase, veteran Tony Stewart raced in his final NASCAR event on Sunday and finished in 22nd, bringing an end to an 18-year career.
Stats courtesy of NASCAR.com.