NASCAR, the Chase: Tony Stewart "Smokin'" Carl Edwards at Homestead

Cedric Hopkins@FieldandCourtContributor INovember 20, 2011

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 20:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 and the 2011 Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2011 in Homestead, Florida. Stewart wins his third NASCAR Championship.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart has dominated the Chase thus far. "Thus far" only really includes the past 10 races. Prior to the Ford 400, Stewart proved that average is good enough.

Stewart didn't finish a single race at the top spot prior to the final 10 races. What he did was finish close enough in each race to qualify for the final 10 races. 

Once he made it to the final 10 races, average became something of the past. Stewart took form and raced to the top spot, finishing first in five of the past ten races. 

Beating out Carl Edwards at the Ford 400, Stewart did what he did in 2005—took the Sprint Cup Championship home. Prior to 2005, Stewart won the Cup in 2002. Now he can add the 2011 Cup.

While it looked like Stewart and Edwards might tie for the Cup (they spent several laps with the same amount of points), Stewart took a commanding lead and passed the checkered flag in high gear. 

Stewart goes into next season in that same high gear, proving that owner/driver can still perform at the highest level. With this season's win, he's proven that being the best all season long isn't necessary, it's only necessary to be the best when it counts. 

NASCAR enthusiast Pete Clark from Columbus, Ohio, believes that Stewart will be a contender next season at the Daytona 500 on February 26, 2012. That's because Stewart has won the Winston Cup, the Nextel Cup and the Sprint Cup, demonstrating his longevity. 

While Jimmy Johnson has won the previous five championships, and had Michelle Obama at the track in his corner, that proved insufficient to take the Cup. Look for Johnson to put up a fight, but as life-long NASCAR fan David Tromp from Fort Worth, Texas, believes, Stewart has the momentum to bring the Cup home again.