This past weekend, Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida, hosted the “Championship Weekend” for all three NASCAR premier series. On Friday night, the Camping World Truck Series featured the Ford EcoBoost 200. Saturday night, the Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 was run. The Sprint Cup Series wrapped up the 2012 season with its Ford EcoBoost 400.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Time Trials: Joey Logano won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Ford EcoBoost 400 with a lap of 176.056 mph. This is the No. 20 Toyota driver's fifth pole in 147 NSCS races. It is his second pole and 16th top-10 start in 2012. This is his first pole in four races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Logano wrecked in practice, had to go to the backup car and started at the rear at the green flag. He never led a lap and finished the race in 14th place. He finished the season 17th in the points.
Did Not Qualify: No. 79 Reed Sorenson, No. 33 Stephen Leicht, No. 91 Jason Leffler and No. 87 Joe Nemechek.
Race Winner: Jeff Gordon won the Ford EcoBoost 400, his 87th victory in 689 NSCS races. This is the No. 24 Chevrolet driver's second victory and 18th top-10 finish in 2012. This is his first victory and 11th top-10 finish in 14 races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Gordon now has at least one win at every active track except Kentucky Speedway.
- Kyle Busch won the $5,400 3M Lap Leader Award for leading the most laps (191 of 267). The No. 18 Toyota driver started eighth in the lineup and finished fourth. He is 13th in the point standings.
- Toyota Racing Development won the $5,000 Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race award. They supplied the engine in Busch’s Toyota.
- Kyle Busch won the $5,000 American Ethanol Green Flag Restart award for recording the fastest average speed on restarts and finishing the race on the lead lap.
- Clint Bowyer’s crew chief, Brian Pattie, won the DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race award. The $5,000 cash award is presented to the crew chief of the driver who demonstrates the best qualifying and race finish for each event. Bowyer started the No. 15 Toyota sixth in the lineup and finish in second place.
- Matt Puccia, crew chief on the No. 16 Ford driven by Greg Biffle, won the Moog Problem Solver of the Race award. The $5,500 award goes to the crew chief that improves the most (0.226 seconds) from first half of the race to the second half utilizing the 40 best lap times. Biffle started the race in 13th place and finished in fifth.
- Tony Stewart won the $5,000 USG Improving the Finish Award which goes to the driver who improves the most from start to finish. The No. 14 Chevrolet driver improved 18 places from 35th in the lineup to a 16th place finish.
- Ryan Newman won the $5,000 Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race award given to the winner of the race or the next-highest finishing driver displaying the Mobil 1 decal. He earned the award for his third place finish. The driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet finished the season 14th in the 2012 Sprint Cup point standings.
Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. His previous best series points finish was fifth, last season. He is the second driver to win the NSCS and the NASCAR Nationwide Series championships (Bobby Labonte). Keselowski won the Nationwide title in 2010. Keselowski posted two wins, three top fives and eight top 10s in the Chase for the Sprint Cup this season. He finished the 2012 season with five wins, 13 top fives and 23 top 10s. This is Penske Racing’s first NSCS championship. This is Dodge’s fifth NSCS championship, and first since 1975.
Final NSCS Top 12:
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Kasey Kahne
5. Greg Biffle
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Matt Kenseth
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Tony Stewart
10. Jeff Gordon
11. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Next NSCS Race: Daytona 500, Sunday, February 24, 2013 at Daytona International Speedway.
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NASCAR Nationwide Series
Time Trials: Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Ford EcoBoost 300 with a lap of 167.984 mph. This is the No. 54 Toyota driver's 26th pole in 244 NNS races. He is fourth on the all-time series poles list. This is his third pole and 15th top-10 start in 2012. This is Busch's first pole in six NNS races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He led 89 laps (the most) and finished second.
Did Not Qualify: No. 15 Timmy Hill, No. 75 Scott Riggs, No. 47 J.J. Yeley and No. 89 Morgan Shepherd.
Race Winner: Regan Smith won the Ford EcoBoost 300, his first victory in 103 NNS races. This is the No. 5 Chevrolet driver's first NNS start of 2012. His last start was July 7, 2007. Smith will run a full schedule with JR Motorsports in 2013. His previous best finish was fifth, three times. This is his first victory and first top-10 finish in three NNS races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Rookie of the Race: Austin Dillon started third and finished fifth. This was ahead of the rest of the 2012 Rookie of the Year contenders and earned the No. 3 Chevrolet driver the Sunoco Rookie of the Race award.
2012 Rookie of the Year: Austin Dillon won the 2012 Sunoco Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. This season, the Richard Childress Racing driver had two wins, three poles, 16 top fives and 27 top ten finishes. Dillon joins Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle as the only drivers to win the rookie of the year in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series.
- Brendan Gaughan makes the most improvement in the series since his third place finish was 23 places better than his last NNS finish. This earned the No. 33 Chevrolet driver a $2,600 check and the Featherlite Most Improved Driver award. Gaughan is ineligible for points in this series.
- Brendan Gaughan won the $2,000 Mobil 1 Driver of the Race award given to the winner of the race or the next-highest finishing driver displaying the Mobil 1 decal.
- Kyle Busch won the $2,200 3M Lap Leader award as the eligible driver leading the most laps (89 of 200).
- Toyota Racing Development (TRD) won the $2,100 Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race award. They built the engine in Busch’s No. 54 Toyota.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. becomes the sixth driver in NNS history to win the championship in consecutive seasons, joining Sam Ard (1983-84), Larry Pearson (1986-87), Randy Lajoie (1996-97), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998-99) and Martin Truex Jr. (2004-05). The No. 6 Cargill Ford driver finished the 2012 season with a series-high six wins, along with 19 top fives and 26 top 10s. This is Roush Fenway Racing’s fourth NNS driver championship.
Final NNS Top 10:
1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2. Elliott Sadler
3. Austin Dillon
4. Sam Hornish Jr.
5. Michael Annett
6. Justin Allgaier
7. Cole Whitt
8. Mike Bliss
9. Brian Scott
10. Danica Patrick
Next NNS Race: DRIVE4COPD 300, Saturday, February 23, 2013 at Daytona International Speedway.
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NASCAR Camping World Truck Series:
Time Trials: Parker Kligerman won the Keystone Light Pole Award for the Ford EcoBoost 200 with a lap of 168.824 mph. This is the No. 7 Toyota Tundra driver's second pole in 48 NCWTS races. It is his second pole and 11th top-10 start in 2012. This is Kligerman's first pole in two races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He led five laps and finished the race in seventh place.
Did Not Qualify: No. 74 Mike Harmon and No. 82 Sean Corr.
Race Winner: Cale Gale won the Ford EcoBoost 200, his first victory in 32 NCWTS races. This is the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado driver's eighth top-10 finish in 2012. Gale is the record-extending 16th different winner in 2012. He is also the ninth different first-time winner this season, also a series record. This was also his first time racing in any series at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Rookie of the Race: Cale Gale won the Sunoco Rookie of the Race award. Gale ends the season 12th in the 2012 NCWTS point standings.
2012 Rookie of the Year: Ty Dillon won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title. This season, the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet Silverado driver had one win, three poles, seven top fives and 17 top ten finishes.
- Ross Chastain started the No. 08 Toyota Tundra 18th in the line-up and his 10th place finish was 23 places better than his last NCWTS finish. This earned him $2,200 and the Featherlite Most Improved Driver award. Chastain ends the season 17th in the point standings.
- Cale Gale won the $1,500 Mobil 1 Driver of the Race award. It is given to the winner of the race or the next-highest finishing driver displaying the Mobil 1 decal.
- Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines won the $1,900 Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race award. The award is determined by qualifying and finishing position of the truck (Gale’s race-winning No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado).
James Buescher, driver of the No. 31 Great Clips Chevrolet Silverado, won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. His previous best championship points finish was third in 2011. Buescher is the 12th different driver to win the NCWTS championship. He finished six points ahead of second-place Timothy Peters. Buescher finished the 2012 season with a series-high four wins. He also had 10 top fives and 14 top 10s. This is Turner Motorsports first NCWTS championship.
Final NCWTS Top 10:
1. James Buescher
2. Timothy Peters
3. Joey Coulter
4. Ty Dillon
5. Parker Kligerman
6. Matt Crafton
7. Nelson Piquet Jr.
8. Justin Lofton
9. Johnny Sauter
10. Miguel Paludo
Next NCWTS Race: Nextera Energy 250, Friday, February 22, 2013 at Daytona International Speedway.