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Edwards wins race, Johnson takes title.

Carl Edwards did everything he could, but Jimmie Johnson made sure Edwards' best wasn't good enough.

Edwards led the most laps and won Sunday's Ford 400 Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway to score his series-best ninth victory of the season, but Johnson claimed the big prize - his record-tying third straight Cup title - with a 15th-place finish that gave him a 69-point advantage over Edwards in the final standings.

Saving every drop of fuel he could, Edwards coasted across the finish line 7.548 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick, who also conserved fuel after his final pit stop on lap 201 of the 267-lap race. Jamie McMurray was third, followed by Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer.

Though Johnson's accomplishment comes in a different era and under a different scoring system from that used in Cale Yarborough's 1976-1978 run, the dominance of the #48 team has been arguably more difficult to achieve, given the heightened level of competition in today's Cup series.

Johnson solidified his legacy in typical fashion, with a huge assist from crew chief Chad Knaus, who got the #48 Chevy out front under caution on ;ap 201 with a two-tyre call in the pits. With Edwards and others trying to stretch fuel mileage to the limit, Knaus called Johnson to the pits for a splash of gas on lap 254 - just for security.

Johnson ended the season with seven victories - 22 total in his three championship seasons - and finished the year with 40 career wins, good for 15th on the all-time list.

“From the first lap on track I knew we had a car that was in the ballpark and a car that I could drive to the front with,” Johnson said. “I felt very, very good once the race started. There were a couple of points where it was dicey at times, but all in all, I really felt like I was in control of where this car was on the track.

“It's the ultimate reward. We worked so hard to put ourselves in this position. It is such a team sport. I can't thank Chad Knaus enough. I guess he's the first crew chief to win three in a row. It's total teamwork and dedication. I've got to commend Carl Edwards and the effort he and his team put forth. Those guys put a lot of pressure on us this year, and they're going to be a championship threat for years to come.”

Edwards, who also won seven Nationwide Series races this season and finished second to Clint Bowyer in that series championship, was equally gracious in congratulating Johnson.

“I don't know what to say,” Edwards said. “Second place in the championship isn't what we came here for, but Jimmie's a great guy, and he deserved to win. We got beat by a true champion.”

And even though the 2009 season-opening Daytona 500 is three months away, Edwards already is hungry for the season to start.

“I wish Daytona was starting in 20 minutes,” he said. “I want to race so bad. Nines races this season, seven in the Nationwide and real close in two championships. I can't wait to go.”

Tony Stewart ended his ten-year association with Joe Gibbs Racing and crew chief Greg Zipadelli with a ninth-place finish at Homestead. In a career that began with three victories during his 1999 rookie season, Stewart accumulated 33 wins and two championships, in 2002 and 2005.

As of Monday, he will turn his attention exclusively to his new role as owner/driver of Stewart-Haas Racing's Chevrolets.


by Reid Spencer/Sporting News


Related Pictures

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Carl Edwards
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, races to his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career win with a victory lap and checkered flag, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory with a wave of the chequered flag Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, celebrates after taking the chequered flag during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS SS, qualifies for second position Friday, March 18, 2016 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Harvick will be joined on the front row by pole setter Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)

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