By admin | November 16, 2008
By Richard Allen
Jimmie Johnson came into the weekend with a big lead in the Sprint Cup standings. He should have won the title and he did.
Clint Bowyer came into the weekend with a big lead in the Nationwide standings. He should have won the title and he did.
Both of these drivers did what they were supposed to do this weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. However, neither was allowed to go for a leisurely ride and simply coast to a victory celebration. Both had to work hard to earn those championships because Carl Edwards came to the track in south Florida with the intention of making Johnson and Bowyer sweat, and that is exactly what happened.
Going into the Ford 300 Nationwide Series race on Saturday, Bowyer held a 56 point advantage over Edwards. While that is a somewhat comfortable lead, it is just close enough that if the second place man were to go out and win the race he could make things a bit uncomfortable for the championship leader.
Well, Edwards went out and did what he needed to do. He won the race and assured that Bowyer could not take an easy breath until he drove under the checkered flag. Edwards’ victory forced Bowyer to race right to the very end.
At the last, Bowyer managed a 21 point margin over Edwards.
In the Sprint Cup finale, the Ford 400, Edwards faced an even more daunting task than that of the previous day. He came into the race facing a 141 point deficit. Johnson needed only a 36th place finish to grab his third consecutive championship at NASCAR’s highest level.
All Edwards could do to was go out, lead the most laps and win the race. Then, the two drivers could let chips fall where they may.
Again, Edwards did his parts to make things interesting. By lap 153 of the 267 lap event he had clinched the bonus for leading the most laps. And more, he stretched every ounce of fuel out of the tank of his Ford Fusion, coasting across the finish line on fumes to take the win.
In the end, Johnson’s lead was cut more than in half. But still, the #48 Hendrick Motorsports team celebrated another title. Edwards was left to perform a somewhat empty back flip then go on to a victory lane that sits in the shadows of the championship celebration.
At the end of both days, the guy who should have won the title did win the title. In both cases, Carl Edwards was the first to cross the finish line which was just good enough to be second on the championship podium.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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