On Sunday, Jimmy Johnson won his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, tying him with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. for the most-all time NASCAR Cup Series Championship wins. Johnson won the Championship by winning the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This was not only Johnson’s seventh championship, but also his first career win at Miami, 80th career win, and his fifth win this season overall.
Johnson was racing Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano for the championship. In order to win, Johnson just had to beat the other three, but he ended up winning the race. Logano finished fourth, Busch finished sixth, and Edwards finished 34th. With ten laps to go, Logano and Edwards were involved is the “Big One” at Miami. Logano got into the back of Edwards on a restart and sent Edwards into the wall, with so much damage that a red flag had to be waived the race stopped for clean up. Edwards went down and hit the inside wall, only to fly all the way up the track and collect a number of cars behind him. Logano drove away pretty much unscathed.
Overall, there were seven cautions and 20 lead changes during the 400 mile race.
Johnson was slated to start 14th after qualifying, but after NASCAR flagged him for making unapproved adjustments to his car before the race he was forced to start at the back of the pack. Johnson never seemed to have the fastest car on the track at any given time, but had the most consistent car over the 267 laps. Johnson was able to work up the pack and put himself in position to win the race and his seventh championship. On the final restart, Johnson was able to pull away from Kyle Larson to lead the last three laps on his way to securing the championship. Larson finished in second and Kevin Harvick finished third.
This race was a race to remember for other reasons as well. It was Tony Stewart’s final race of his full-time NASCAR career.
Overall, this NASCAR season was a very interesting one, featuring many rule changes and down force packages. Some of the major rule changes have had a major effect of the season. First and foremost, this season was the first season that the race field went down from 43 to 40. Second, the way penalties were assessed was altered and expanded. The video replay system allowed for more penalties to be identified by NASCAR officials and more penalties were assessed for men over the wall too soon, uncontrolled item, or entering the pit box too early. A final rule change was the way the overtime procedure occurred. Starting this past season, there was the addition of an overtime line. This overtime line was a place on the track which the leader had to pass in order for the race to be official. As soon as the leader passes the line, the race is said to be official and no caution or anything can come after the fact.
Overall, the 2016 NASCAR season was a very exciting one that saw the continued reign of Jimmy Johnson, the return of Kyle Busch, and the rise of Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson. Only three months from tomorrow until the excitement begins all over again.