Epic. The best ever. The greatest of all time.
Thirty-five races down and one to go. We’ve made it to the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Carl Edwards leads the standings by just three points over Tony Stewart and the two have 267 laps left to settle who will be crowned the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.
NASCAR is in its best season ever. We’ve got two titans of the sport battling in the third-tightest point spread leading into the season finale. Edwards and Stewart have eliminated the remaining 10 Chase competitors from earning the 2011 title, and now it’s time to let them race it out on the track.
There are several championship-winning scenarios depending on where Edwards and Stewart finish Sunday. A win for either would mean the title, but if Edwards finishes ahead of Stewart, he earns the championship. In Stewart’s favor is his tiebreaker status (most wins), so he only needs to tie Edwards to win his third championship.
The stats for Edwards and Stewart at Homestead-Miami Speedway intensify the epic showdown even more, as each have two wins at the track. Stewart set the race record at 140.335 mph when he won the inaugural race in 1999 and earned his second win the following year. Edwards posted wins in 2008 and 2010.
Edwards and Stewart have brought out the best in each other, performing their finest when the season was on the line. They finished first and second at Texas, and second and third Sunday at Phoenix. Edwards’ last two finishes (second and second) and Stewart’s last two finishes (first and third) means both have an average finish of 2.0 in the last two races.
Since the inception of the position-based points system in 1975, only three drivers have made up a points deficit in the season finale: Richard Petty in 1979 (made up two points on Darrell Waltrip), Alan Kulwicki in 1992 (made up 30 points on Davey Allison) and Jimmie Johnson in 2010 (made up 15 points on Denny Hamlin). Just as the great duels between these racing prodigies, I hope people will look at this season down the road and say, “Wow. That was a good year.”
For now, I hope people will enjoy the competitiveness this season has brought. I also hope people will appreciate and respect what our defending champion Jimmie Johnson, who has five consecutive titles, has accomplished, because it will never happen again.
Epic. The best ever. The greatest of all time. Hyperboles in describing both the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season or the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title?
No. I think it stands up as simple fact.