Jimmie Johnson Wins Sprint Cup: 10 Lessons We Learned from Homestead
Years ago, professional wrestler Bret Hart used to proclaim that he was "the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be."
The way Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team continue to rack up Sprint Cup championships, that phrase may soon apply to the El Cajon, California-native's title reign as well.
Johnson finished second at the Ford 400 Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway to lock up an unprecedented fifth-consecutive championship.
At this point the question is no longer: "Who will stop the No. 48?" It's now: "How can the No. 48 lose the championship?"
Here's 10 notable lessons learned from Sunday's race—both points-wise and race-wise.
1. Carl Edwards Will Be a Title Threat Once Again in 2011
The No. 99 Ford visited victory lane once again as Carl Edwards ended the season by winning two straight races.
This time it wasn't a case of taking advantage of Denny Hamlin's poor fuel strategy—it was a case of just simply dominating the field, leading 190-of-267 laps.
It was a performance reminiscent of the Missourian's nine-win season in 2008, and the fact that Edwards' 70-race winless streak is now off his back will definitely motivate crew chief Bob Osbourne and the No. 99 crew next season.
2. Kasey Kahne Will Get Wings with Red Bull and Make the Chase in 2011
Kasey Kahne had one of his better performances of the 2010 season at Homestead and it was his best race as driver of the No. 83 Toyota.
The Enumclaw, Washington-native finished sixth at the Ford 400—his best run since a fourth-place result in the No. 9 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports at Fontana. For Red Bull Racing, it was the best finish for either the No. 82 or No. 83 since a 10th-place finish for Scott Speed in the July Daytona race.
With a two-car team of Kahne and Brian Vickers likely for 2011, expect the Red Bull logo to adorn victory lane multiple times next season.
3. Richard Petty Motorsports May Have Gone Out with a Bang
If this was indeed the final race for Richard Petty Motorsports in its current form, the four-car team went out in a fashion once brought to the team by Kahne, Bill Elliott and Jeremy Mayfield through the years.
Aric Almirola drove the No. 9 Ford, vacated by Kahne last month, to a fourth-place finish, while AJ Allmendinger took the No. 43 Ford to its only top five of 2010.
The future is certain for Almirola, who will join JR Motorsports next season to run the full Nationwide Series slate.
However, Allmendinger proved again that on a good day, with good equipment, he can perform in the Sprint Cup Series.
4. Jeff Gordon Went Winless in 2010
While RPM may have gone out with a bang, Jeff Gordon's season ended in an image all too symbolic of his season.
On lap 199, Gordon's engine blew up, the only time this season a Hendrick engine went up in smoke.
Even though Gordon had a very consistent season (11 top fives, 17 top 10's), his winless streak is now 66-races long heading into the 2011 campaign.
Here's hoping he returns to victory lane very soon.
5. Kevin Harvick Will Do Anything To Win a Championship
Look, he even dumped Kyle Busch.
If that doesn't scream desperation—even if it wasn't intentional—I don't know what does.
I'm sure many fans around the country cheered at this moment, however.
6. If Chad Knaus Is Holding a Post-It Note to the Camera, It's Over for You
Just watch the video.
7. 2010 Was Jimmie Johnson's Hardest Title-Winning Season
There's little question that this Chase was the best since the inaugural edition of the playoff system in 2004, when Kurt Busch rebounded from a loose wheel to win the title.
Johnson didn't have a cushion heading into this race—he was 15 points behind Denny Hamlin. It took an impressive performance, with help from Hamlin and Harvick, to win this title.
8. Homestead-Miami Speedway Can Provide Drama
Even though it seems as if NASCAR and the fans continually reconsider having Homestead-Miami Speedway as the host of the final weekend of the season, Sunday's race should quell those concerns for a while.
The place was packed—a rarity for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race lately—and there was plenty of action around the track, even though Edwards and Martin Truex Jr. led almost every lap.
9. Kevin Harvick Came Back Nicely from a Speeding Penalty
After leading the field off pit road on lap 170, Harvick was penalized with speeding in doing so. He lost five bonus points he had originally earned for leading a lap under yellow and fell to the back of the pack.
Although he did come back through the field to finish third, the No. 29 team will be left thinking what might have been if the penalty did not happen.
10. Denny Hamlin Couldn't Seal the Deal
Things appeared as if Hamlin would finally be able to end Johnson's run of Sprint Cup titles, until he missed crew chief Mike Ford's call to pit on lap 201.
From there, Hamlin began to slide through the pack and was caught one lap down after heading down pit road during the Harvick-Kyle Busch incident. The No. 11 Toyota never recovered, finishing in 14th place.
It's hard to imagine the Chase without Denny Hamlin next season.
Thoughts? Comment below.
Ryan Papaserge is a junior journalism/mass communication student at St. Bonaventure University and a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.