BRAD KESELOWSKI BRINGS POINTS LEAD TO MIAMI
The race ended in a green-white-checkered finish following an on-track altercation involving Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer in the closing laps. Four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Gordon was unable to finish the final laps, and was scored with a disappointing 30th place finish (photo courtesy: Todd Pennington, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
When the dust settled at Phoenix, Kevin Harvick emerged as the winner of Race 35 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 16-18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now.
The win was Harvick’s first of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and the 19th of his career.
What might have been a dominating victory by Kyle Busch turned into a wild finish when Kevin Harvick raced to the win after a fierce restart with eight laps to go and another on a green-white-checkered finish.
"It (his pole-sitting No. 18 M&M's car) was an awesome piece, and I gave the race away," Busch said. "I guess I didn't know how to win it."
Slow-running Jeff Gordon, who was shown the black flag for running less than the required minimum speed, ended up at the focal point of a controversial crash. Clint Bowyer, the third-place championship contender, Joey Logano, and Aric Almirola crashed with Gordon split seconds before new leader Harvick reached the start-finish line. That angered Bowyer's crew which took after Gordon's team in a heated skirmish in the garage.
Race winner Harvick, who claimed his third victory in 20 races at Phoenix, offered a light touch when commenting on the fisticuffs between the Bowyer and Gordon teams: "Fights? This sport was made on fights. We ought to have more fights."
With the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in its closing stages, all eyes at the day's beginning were on Brad Keselowski who started seven points behind five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the season's penultimate race. When Johnson cut his right front tire on Lap 235, he suffered suspension damage when his car hit the Turn 1 wall. He finished 32nd, 38 laps down, and fell 20 points behind Keselowski in the championship hunt. One race remains at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Keselowski needs only to finish 15th, regardless of Johnson's performance, to clinch his first title.
Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are still available.
Keselowski barely made it past the Gordon-Bowyer wreck on his way to a sixth place finish, saying, "I thought I was going to wreck, so I just hoped I could bounce off the walls and make it back to the start-finish line." While the new points leader was angry over what he considered late-race retaliation by some drivers, he joked about the good luck he received when Johnson hit the wall: "I'm sure maybe five years from now, if I end up winning this thing (the title), there will be somebody saying 'Remember Phoenix, when such-and-such laid down thumbtacks and blew out Jimmie's tire?”
NASCAR National Series Clinch Scenarios Set For Homestead-Miami Speedway
Brad Keselowski leads five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson by 20 points going into Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are still available.
Keselowski clinches his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship with a finish of 15th or better; or 16th and at least one lap led; or 17th and the most laps led, even if Johnson wins and leads the most laps.
All other drivers have been eliminated from championship consideration.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who leads by 20 points over second-place Elliott Sadler, will clinch the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver championship with a finish of 16th or better; or 17th or better with at least one lap led; or 18th or better with most laps led at Homestead.
Next up for the Sprint Cup Series drivers is Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are still availabe.