- Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 10:01
- Published on Thursday, 15 November 2012 10:00
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Brad Keselowski leads five-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson by 20 points going into Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
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 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.
In the owners’ championship battle, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota guarantees a clinch of the title with a finish of 28th or better; or 29th or better with at least one lap led; or 30th or better with the most laps led. The No 18 currently leads the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford by 33 points.
James Buescher has an 11-point lead over Timothy Peters heading into the Camping World Truck Series finale. Buescher guarantees himself his first championship with a finish of 7th or better with no laps led; or 8th or better with one lap led; or 9th or better with the most laps led.
All of the above being said, most of the conversation this week will be about Jeff Gordon taking Clint Bowyer out, wrecking his own car, the #15 car and a couple of innocent cars that just happened to be near Gordon and Bowyer as Gordon waited for his chance to crash Bowyer. The Bowyer versus Gordon feud has been simmering since Bowyer tried a very aggressive pass in the closing laps at Martinsville and took himself and Gordon out of the race. The maneuver cost Gordon an almost sure win.
We can also add fisticuffs to the repertoires of the Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon crews, who brawled in the garage after Gordon wrecked Bowyer and dashed his championship hopes on the next to last scheduled lap.
Kevin Harvick stole a race that Kyle Busch absolutely dominated, winning Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 in a green-white checkered-flag finish at Phoenix International Raceway.
Harvick crossed the stripe as a wreck erupted behind him.
The real drama was deeper in the field, and earlier, as Keselowski moved tantalizingly close to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship after predicting last Sunday that bad luck might be on the horizon for five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. The prediction came true in the form of a wreck on Lap 234.
Harvick took the checkered flag ahead of Denny Hamlin, who passed Busch after the final restart. Busch came home third, Kasey Kahne ran fourth, followed by Ryan Newman and Keselowski, who took back the lead from Johnson and leads by 20 points heading to the season’s final race this Sunday. Johnson finished 32nd, his prospects for a sixth Cup title vastly diminished.
Busch led four times for 237 laps but surrendered the lead to Harvick after a restart on Lap 305 and never got it back. “The guys gave me an awesome piece, and unfortunately there, I gave the race away,” Busch said. “I hate it for my guys. They worked so hard and they dug hard this weekend, and obviously having a car that’s the class of the field, you expect to win and you’re supposed to win, but I guess I just didn’t know how to win it today.”
Harvick’s victory came two days after ESPN.com reported he would leave Richard Childress Racing for Stewart-Haas Racing after the 2013 season, the last year on Harvick’s current contract. Clearly, the reported business dealings didn’t affect Harvick’s focus.
“There can be distractions,” said Harvick “But when we actually get to get into our element, we all do our jobs regardless, and we all don’t want to go out and embarrass ourselves and not run good. We want to be exactly where we are, right here, talking to you guys after the race and in Victory Lane and doing the things that make us all happy. It’s been a frustrating year, but two races to go, here we are.”