It All Comes Down to Homestead-Miami Speedway
All eyes remain on Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick headed into Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21 for the crowning of the 2010 Sprint Cup Champion (photo courtesy: Todd Warshaw, Getty Images Sport)
Sunday, Homestead-Miami Speedway will host a one-race shootout to decide the closest Sprint Cup championship battle since The Chase was started in 2004. Denny Hamlin will enter Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21) with a slim 15-point lead over four-time reigning Champion Jimmie Johnson and just a 46-point margin over Kevin Harvick. Tickets for this historic Championship finale are available starting at $55 via HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com and (866) 409-RACE.
In Chase Race 9 of 10 en route to Sunday’s Sprint Cup Championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnson showed he will not let his championship title go easily by finishing 5th and shrinking Hamlin’s lead. The currently points leader finished a solid 12th at Phoenix but allowed Johnson and Harvick, who finished 6th, to close the gap and tighten the three-way battle for the championship to historic levels.
“We have one heck of a points race going to Miami,” said Johnson, in the unfamiliar role of the “hunter” rather than the “hunted” this late in the season. “I’m pumped. I’m so happy to put pressure on that 11 team—we’re ready to race for this thing.”
With just 15 points separating the top two drivers, Johnson still faces some odds in completing his “Drive for Five”: Every year since the inception of the Chase in 2004, the driver holding the points lead with one race remaining has gone on to win the Sprint Cup Championship. Hamlin—who led 190 laps on Sunday but fell victim to fuel strategy at the end of the race—also won last year’s Ford 400 Championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Despite these potential road blocks in front of him, the 4-time champ is not ready to hand the title to Hamlin anytime soon.
“Those guys better be on their toes,” said Johnson. “Not only do they have [our] 48 to worry about, but they have the 29 [Kevin Harvick]—and one race winner take all. It’s going to be one hell of a show.”
Lock in your tickets NOW to see Championship racing at Championship value: Tickets start at $55 and are available by calling (866) 409-RACE or by clicking here. Parking is FREE, and fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 14x14x14 soft-sided cooler, with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restocking from tailgates.
With Jimmie Johnson placing fifth, the margin between the Chase leader Hamlin and the defending champion Johnson is 15 points, which is the closest gap between the top two since the Chase format began in 2004.
While several of the Chase contenders ended up conserving fuel, finishing was far more important than not taking the checkered at all. Points are valuable and anything can happen in the final race which could alter the Championship outcome. With the title on the line, the "boys have at it" rule will no doubt apply.
"We just hope to have a clean race next week and the best car win. That's all that we can ask for to crown the champ," Hamlin said. "That's the thing, I'm proud that we've stepped up our performance like we have over these last few weeks. So I'm just going to continue to keep digging as hard as I can go and try to beat those guys.
"It's going to be tough. Those guys are going to be good. We see that every week. They're top five. As far as I'm concerned, it's going to take a win."
Carl Edwards won the race at Phoenix to sit fourth in Championship standings (-264) entering Ford Championship Weekend. The Ford driverEdwards has waited a long time to drive his Roush Fenway Racing Ford into Victory Lane, in fact his last Cup win was two years ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway. On the Phoenix International Raceway 1 mile tri-oval, Edwards celebrated the taste of victory. It could not have come at a better time with the NASCAR Championship finale Sunday in Miami.
"It was a great day for us. The race started, I felt like we had the best car," said Edwards, "Then here comes Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson. Really I think their cars were better in the middle part of the race. Bob made really good adjustments. The track came to us a little bit.”
Joe Gibbs Racing's Joey Logano—also among an impressive list of NASCAR stars who will be appearing in fan-hospitality areas during Ford Championship Weekend in Miami—finished third. In fact, Logano’s put together several strong results of late with five consecutive Top-10 finishes including three straight Top 5s.
There will be 43 cars on the track when the green flag falls on the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway but all eyes will be on the expected dogfight between Hamlin, Johnson and Harvick as each driver tries to claim the Sprint Cup as their own. With the Top 3 drivers in the Championship standings separated by just 46 points, it’s gearing up to be a dramatic Championship finale in South Florida.
Lock in your tickets NOW to see Championship racing at Championship value: Tickets start at $55 and are available by calling (866) 409-RACE or by clicking here. Parking is FREE, and fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 14x14x14 cooler, with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restocking from tailgates.
Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 21 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN-TV, MRN Radio).
On the Move: South Florida’s Montoya
“We had a great car but terrible luck there at the end.”
--Juan Pablo Montoya, ran out of fuel at Phoenix before finishing 16th who fought handling issues in Chase Race 9 of 10 en route to Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21) on his “home track”
South Florida resident Juan Pablo Montoya and the Target team headed out west for the final time in 2010 to Phoenix International Raceway. The No. 42 Target Chevrolet found itself in contention for a win in the closing laps of the Kobalt Tools 500 until the team’s luck turned on them. Montoya was displayed in the second position chasing down the leader when the No. 42 ran out of fuel on the final lap and coasted across the finish line in the 16th position.
The Target team lined-up in the 35th position for the start of Sunday afternoon’s race and by lap 77 Montoya had driven his way past 20 cars to find himself in the top-15. That momentum would continue throughout the day as the Target team maintained track position during the 312 lap event. Fuel strategy came into play as the caution flag flew on lap 234; Montoya brought the Target Chevrolet down pit road for two tires and fuel. The No. 42 restarted in 11th and with 12 laps remaining was running in the second position. Montoya was chasing down leader Carl Edwards on the final lap when he radioed in, “I’m out of fuel.” The No. 42 coasted across the finish line in 16th.
“We had a great car but terrible luck there at the end,” Montoya remarked. “We were catching Edwards and we knew he was close on fuel too so the ending could of played out several different ways. I hate that things didn’t work out differently for the Target team.”
Lock in your tickets NOW to see Montoya race for a Ford 400 victory on his home turf—as well as an exclusive meet-and-greet opportunity with Montoya himself—by calling (866) 409-RACE or by clicking here.
Next up for Montoya and the Sprint Cup drivers is Montoya’s “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 21 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN-TV, MRN Radio). For tickets starting at $55, call (866) 409-RACE or click here. Parking for Ford Championship Weekend is FREE, and fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 14x14x14 cooler—with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restocking from tailgates.