Stewart Captures Third Championship in Sunday Nailbiter

(Photo: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)


“If this doesn’t go down as one of the greatest battles in championship history, I don’t know what will”.  The words of now 3-time NASCAR champion, Tony “Smoke” Stewart.  Coming into this weekend, three miniscule points separated two-time champion Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards, a driver looking for his first cup.  The winner of the championship would be decided for what would transpire on the Homestead, Florida track on Sunday.

While many seasons end with a letdown, Sunday’s Ford 400 ended with a closer finish than anyone had ever anticipated.  Stewart won the actual race itself, while Edwards, mere moments behind, took second place.  Stewart picked up the three-point deficit, and the season was over.  Final points standings were 2403 to 2403.  The only tie in NASCAR points history, to be decided by actual victories, which Stewart had with five of the ten championship races.

Stewart is the first car owner/driver to win the title since Alan Kulwicki accomplished the feat in 1992, and only the ninth driver to win three or more championships in the seven decades of NASCAR.  Stewart, who had recently commented that he would “wreck his own mom” to win the title, fortunately, didn’t have to.  It was a wild Sunday for Stewart that saw his car suffer minor damage, the fact that he had to make 70 passes to win the race and not to mention, a lengthy rain delay.

The Stewart/Haas racing team is a very new team, forming only two years ago as Stewart left his long-time ride with Joe Gibbs Racing, where Stewart netted two championships.  No doubt, that this victory will be the sweetest for the Rushville, IN native, being that it’s now his team.  The number 14 is no stranger to wins, as it was once the number of legendary driver A.J. Foyt, which Stewart asked to have when forming his new venture.  Foyt and Stewart have remained friends for many years, and share much in common, with championships in several driving leagues.

Carl Edwards, gracious in his defeat, flagged down Stewart’s car after the race, stuck his head in the window net, and was one of the first to congratulate the champion.  The post race interview showed Edwards to be obviously heart-broken to finishing so close to his dream, but was confident and quipped, “they better look out, next year.”

Most competitors have a constant fire to excel, but one has to wonder how much longer Stewart’s fire will hold out.  The 40-year-old Stewart has now accomplished what many drivers only dream of.  Winning in open wheel dirt racing, Indy cars and now as not only a driver, but car owner as well, there are only two elusive prizes missing from Stewart’s resume.  The Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, are both jewels missing from Stewart’s crown, but at this rate, it seems to only be a question of when, not if, that will happen.


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