Stewart wins at Homestead to beat Edwards for NASCAR championship

11/20/2011
ASSOCIATED PRESS

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Tony Stewart has held off Carl Edwards to win his third NASCAR championship with a powerful and relentless drive in Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Stewart went into Sunday’s race trailing Edwards by three points but confident he’d be the winner at race’s end. He vowed to drive with nothing to lose and did just that.

Early damage to the front of his Chevrolet dropped him to 40th in the field. But Stewart plowed his way back to the front, using aggressive three and four-wide passes to get back into contention.

He then benefited from pit strategy by crew chief Darian Grubb and a brief rain shower that allowed Stewart to save gas as the cars ticked off laps under yellow. He passed three cars on the restart with 37 laps to go, and Edwards finished a helpless second.

They actually finished tied in the final standings, but Stewart won the title on tie-breaker: He had five wins this season to Edwards’ one.

He becomes the first owner/driver to win the championship since Alan Kulwicki and ends Jimmie Johnson’s record five-year title run.