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NASCAR Power Rankings: Homestead

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 20:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy 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 Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Jeffrey BoswellAnalyst INovember 23, 2011

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Tony Stewart: Stewart won at Homestead, his fifth win of the Chase, and took home the 2011 Sprint Cup championship—the third of his career. Stewart and Carl Edwards both scored 2,403 points in the Chase, but Stewart won by virtue of his Chase victories.

“If being a car owner in tough financial times has taught me one thing,” Stewart said, “it’s how to close the deal.

“I’m going to enjoy a long, offseason celebration, one that may require a rewrite of an infamous Rolling Stone article. My work here is done, and so is crew chief Darien Grubb’s. He’s looking for a job. Oddly enough, it seems someone counted Darien out too early, as well.”

2. Carl Edwards: Edwards was unable to run down Tony Stewart over the closing laps at Homestead and finished second, failing in his bid to win his first Sprint Cup championship.

“Everyone has lauded my graciousness in a losing effort,” Edwards said. “So, I’m going out like a champion, but not as one.”

3. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finished eighth at Homestead, earning his sixth top-10 result of the Chase. He finished third in the standings, 58 out of first.

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 20:  Carl Edwards, drives the #99 Aflac Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2011 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

“Tony Stewart had ‘destiny’ on his side,” Harvick said, “and probably on his lap late Sunday night. I can only imagine what the victory celebration was like. I can only imagine it because I wasn’t invited.”

4. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth came home fourth in the Ford 400, posting his fifth top-five result of the Chase and finishing fourth in the point standings.

“My first order of business next year,” Kenseth said, “is to exact my revenge on Brian Vickers in a race that matters to him. I vow that I will make sure his go-cart slams the wall.”

5. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson ended the Chase For The Cup without a championship for the first time in six years. He finished 32nd, six laps down, and ended the year sixth in the point standings, 99 out of first.

“Congratulations to Tony Stewart,” Johnson said, “for synchronizing his best Chase performance with my worst. What’s the bigger story here? Stewart’s crowning, or my uncrowning? I hate to ‘reign’ on Stewart’s parade, but the end of a five-year run as champion trumps Stewart’s third title in 10 years."

6. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski finished 20th in the Ford 400, one lap down after a strong qualifying effort of fifth. He finished fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 84 out of first.

“NASCAR fined me $25,000 for criticizing fuel injection,” Keselowski said. “That’s called getting ‘throttled.’”

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 19:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2011 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotm
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

7. Jeff Gordon: Gordon finished strong in the Chase, taking fifth at Homestead for his 18th top-five result of the year. He improved three places to eighth in the point standings, 116 out of first.

“Congratulations to Tony Stewart,” Gordon said. “It’s amazing that Tony won five of the 10 Chase races. Even more amazing that it still took a tiebreaker for him to win the Cup. Ironically, Stewart will have loads of personal appearances to make, so it appears he’ll be back in a ‘tie’ soon.”

8. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Earnhardt just missed a top-10 finish at Homestead, crossing the line 11th in the Ford 400. He finished the season seventh in the point standings, 113 out of first.

“My winless streak continues and we made no noise in the Chase whatsoever,” Earnhardt said. “If I had to grade my performance, it would be somewhere between a ‘D’ and an ‘F,’ which would make it a little ‘e.’”

9. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin closed a disappointing season with a ninth at Homestead, ending the Chase For The Cup ninth in the standings, 119 out of first.

“Joe Gibbs Racing faces a long offseason,” Hamlin said. “Kyle Busch faces a longer off-season, and a shorter leash. Most of us in the organization will be strategizing for the 2012. We’ll put our heads together, while Busch will try to get his together."

10. (tie) Kyle Busch/Kurt Busch: Kyle and Kurt finished 23rd and 34th, respectively, at Homestead to mercifully end a disappointing Chase for both. Kurt finished 11th in the final Chase standings, 141 out of first, while Kyle finished 12th, 16 behind Kurt.

“If there was any doubt as to our kinship,” Kurt Busch said, “this should prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are, in fact, brothers. Luckily, our parents still claim us. I wish I could say the same for our race teams. Who did more yelling this year? Me at my team, or Kyle’s at him?”

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