KESELOWSKI CHARGES TO 2012 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES CROWN
The final 20 laps of Ford’s Championship Weekend were filled with heartbreaking car failures, gritty driver battles, and volumes of new pages for NASCAR’s history books. The Chase for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series Championship concluded before the checkered flag waved, and some of stock-car racing’s finest added to already incredible accolades. The exciting conclusion to the Ford EcoBoost 400 was packed with enough drama and excitement to get the adrenaline pumping in race fans nationwide.
Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, clinched the Sprint Cup on Lap 247 when rear end gear issues on the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet forced contender and five-time Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson into the garage.
Keselowski cruised to a 15th place finish to give Roger Penske his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, adding to the legendary car owner’s extensive list of motorsports accomplishments.
“He [Johnson] was going to win this damn race, and I know that,” admitted Keselowski post-race. “But my guys just did a great job all year long and especially in this Chase, and I’m lucky to have ‘em.”
With the Championship secured, the focus on the track shifted to the gritty rematch from last week’s post-race incident at Phoenix International Raceway between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer. Gordon, driving the No. 24 DuPont 20 Years Celebratory Chevrolet, beat Bowyer’s No. 15 5-hour Energy Toyota to the checkered flag for his 87th Sprint Cup Series victory and Hendrick Motorsports’s 209th.
“There’s a lot of reasons why it’s special. This is a big win,” remarked Gordon. “…But I think what I’m most excited about is DUPONT. To be able to have a special paint scheme commemorating 20 years together, it’s such an incredible accomplishment, and then to be able to kind of pay them back or give them thanks by pulling that car into victory lane, I know how pumped they were.”
Gordon’s first victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway adds to his cachet as one of NASCAR’s elite drivers with 1st place finishes at every Sprint Cup venue except for Kentucky.
The Ford Championship Weekend was an incredible success for fans and drivers alike, delivering a dramatic conclusion to a memorable 2012 NASCAR season.
Homestead-Miami Speedway will host Ford Championship Weekend and NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series championship races for the 12th consecutive season in 2013 (November 15-17).
(University of Miami Field Experience Program student, Joe LoMonaco contributed to this report)