This is the thirty-sixth and final race of the season. And the tenth and final race of the Chase. A Champion will be crowned after the race. It can go to one of two Drivers. Those being Jimmy Johnson who won the last four races and is going for five straight wins, and Jeff Gordon Jimmy’s part Owner. Homestead-Miami is a 1.5 mile track with graduated banking so that there are multiple grooves to race on. 267 laps will be 400.5 miles. 48 Jimmy Johnson is on the Pole having posted a speed of 176.788. 12 Ryan Newman will start beside Jimmy.
Today 09 is Sterling Marlin. 36 is BDR Truck Driver Johnny Benson. He won the Truck race here on Friday. 44 Dale Jarrett made the final race of the season on speed. Go Dale! 10 today is Patrick Carpentier. 06 is Sam Hornish, Jr. 21 is Bill Elliott, who took a past Champion provisional to get into the race. Those failing to qualify are 55 Michael Waltrip, 84 A. J. Allmendinger, 4 Todd Bodine, (see, it’s the car, not the Driver, regularly Ward Burton) 78 Joe Nemechek, 34 Kevin Lepage, and 49 John Andretti. This is Robby Reiser’s last race as Crew Chief to 17 Matt Kenseth. Robby got promoted.
So, here we go! 48 leads from the pole. 12 takes the lead shortly after. 17 moves to second, and then into the Lead. 31 Jeff Burton gets loose and into the wall, and is slow on the track. 2 Kurt Busch gets by 48. 31 has a tire rubbing from contact with the wall and pits. 20 Tony Stewart gets loose. 2 gets by 12 for second. 1 Martin Truex, Jr. gets by 48. 12 and 1 battle for third. 24 Jeff Gordon and 20 battle. 20 gets by 24. 24 gets by 48. 5 Kyle Busch and 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. battle. 8 gets by. Green Flag Pitting begins on lap 48.
The first caution comes out when 8 gets sideways on pit Rd. 5 got into 8 to spin him entering Pit Rd. 8 straightens it out and goes back on the track, as does 29 Kevin Harvick. They both get commitment cone violations. 10 was also involved. At this track, you have to use an access road to get into the pits. The accident happened as they were leaving the access road into the pits. 12, 20, 42 Juan Pablo Montoya, 41 Reed Sorenson, 25 Casey Mears, 00 David Reutimann, 07 Clint Bowyer, 11 Denny Hamlin and 44 hadn’t yet pitted. 41 leaves before the jack comes down, sending the jack into the pits! Luckily no one is hurt. Because so many cars pitted before the caution, they stay out and leader, 17 is way behind.
The second caution comes out at the restart. 31 Jeff Burton spins 8. All those ahead of the Leader will go around behind the leaders, staying on the lead lap. The sun is in everyone’s eyes so they are having trouble seeing the track and getting to their pits. Why they start these races so late that the sun is such a factor is beyond me. The Green Flag comes back out on lap 62. 10 is having problems. 2 takes the lead. 19 Elliott Sadler gets into the wall and pits. 8 gets Black flagged for a rear panel that is flapping around and has to pit to pull it off before he causes a caution.
The third caution comes out during the commercial. 15 Paul Menard got loose on the top of the track and got into the wall. 11 is leading when the Green comes out. 1 and 24 battle. 11 and 17 battle for the lead. 17 takes the lead. 31 is ahead of the Leader barely on the lead lap. 17 gets by 31 to put him back down a lap. 42 and 20 with four tires get by 24 who took only two tires. 99 Carl Edwards gets by 25. 2 pits with a vibration. Green Flag Pitting begins again and 25 is leading. After all the pitting is complete, 17 is back into the lead. 12 gets by 20 for fourth.
The fourth caution comes out when 12 spins out in front of 20 and 24. They both get by. It’s 17, 07 Clint Bowyer, 11, 1, 24 and 22 Dave Blaney out of the pits. The fifth caution involves 70 Johnny Sauter, 83 Brian Vickers and 10. 70 spins across the track into the inside wall. 10 can’t slow down and gets into 83, who spins into the inside wall beside 70. The Green Flag comes out on lap 163. 11 takes the lead. 38 David Gilliland brushes the wall and pits. 17 catches 11 and takes the lead from 11. 1 and 24 battle. 1 takes the spot.
The sixth caution comes out when 06 Sam Hornish, Jr. gets into the wall. Personally, I don’t understand why the yellow comes out for 06, when it didn’t for 38 and 19. 17, 1, 2, 24, 11, 48, 22, 99, 01 Mark Martin and 6 David Ragan are the top 10. 24 makes it three-wide. 5 makes it three-wide. 1 and 24 battle for second. 1 keeps the spot. 2 gets by 24. 1 and 2 battle. 2 gets by 1 for second. 11 and 24 battle. 11 gets the spot. 1 and 11 battle for third. 48 gets by 24. Green Flag Pitting begins again. 26 Jamie McMurray leads, then pits. 1 and 17 battle for the Lead. 17 takes the lead.
The seventh caution comes out with 14 to go. 20 spins into the wall. The car wasn’t right and Tony is not a Happy Camper. The Green Flag comes out with 10 to go, so it’s a single file restart. 17, the Leader has concerns about a flat tire. But it’s only debris on the tire and goes away. 11, 1 and 24 battle. 20 comes back out and is limping around. 1 and 48 battle for sixth.
17 Matt Kenseth wins the race. And 48 Jimmy Johnson wins the Championship. Personally, I liked the Green Flag pitting and only seven cautions. Matt Kenseth finished strong and jumps up to fourth in the points. The final top 12 are 48, 24, 07, 17, 5, 20, 2, 31, 99, 29, 1 and 11. Only the top ten will go to the stage at the Banquet. Thirteenth through twenty are 12, 16 Greg Biffle, 25, 8, 26, 43 Bobby Labonte, 9 Kasey Kahne and 42.
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley