Defending champion Carl Edwards took the chequered flag in the Ford 300 Nationwide Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, depriving runner-up Kyle Busch of a record eleventh victory in a single season.

The Roush Fenway Racing star, however, couldn't put enough distance between his No. 60 Ford and the No. 2 Chevrolet of Clint Bowyer, who claimed his maiden Nationwide crown with a fifth-place finish. Bowyer entered the race with a 56-point lead over Edwards and won the title by 21 points.

"We've raced each other for a long time," Bowyer said of Edwards, who won the Nationwide championship last year. "He's from the Midwest (Columbia, Mo.). He's last year's champion, and it feels great to be able to beat him."

Edwards, who won his seventh race of the season and the 20th of his career, beat Busch to the finish line by 0.639 seconds for his first Homestead success and Ford's fifth from 13 at the venue - taking winningest Nationwide team owner Roush's victory tally in the series to an impressive 98.

"That's a great win, to hold off the 18 (Busch), as strong as he's been all season," enthused the 29-year-old, who congratulated Bowyer on his championship. "It was a good race. I had a really good time.

"Congratulations to Clint and those guys - he is a class act. It is no good to finish second in the championship, but I know he will be a good champion for Nationwide. If I have to get beat by somebody, a dirt racer from Imporia, Kansas is the best guy to get beat by.

"One of the neatest things about this series and about the championship is that it is different from the Cup Series in that it is all season. It is not tonight that determined this championship. We will be back next year and I hope Clint comes back and races with us; that would be fun.

"The great thing is I think we have a lot to look forward to. We have a great team both here and on the Cup side. There is no shame in giving 100 per cent effort and finishing second. That was the best we could do."

Brad Keselowski came home third and in so doing claimed third in the final series' standings. Jason Leffler finished fourth in Saturday's race, followed by Bowyer, Scott Wimmer, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kelly Bires and Joey Logano, as 33rd-placed Kenny Wallace broke a tie with Tommy Houston for second on the all-time list in competing in his 418th Nationwide race.

Logano's tenth-place result was enough to secure the owners' championship for Joe Gibbs Racing, which used four different drivers in the No. 20 Toyota this year. Logano, Busch, Hamlin and Tony Stewart combined for nine wins in the car, with Stewart accounting for five. The No. 20 car finished twelve points ahead of the No. 2 Chevrolet, driven exclusively by Bowyer.

Though Landon Cassill didn't race, he claimed Raybestos Rookie of the Year honours. The other rookie contender, Bryan Clauson, entered the race six points behind Cassill but scraped the wall, fell out of the event after 157 of 200 laps and classified 34th.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News

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