HOMESTEAD — Carl Edwards finished the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series seasons in a blitz, winning three of the last four races in each and both season-enders at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Ultimately, though, he came up one position short of a championship in each. That made the victories much more important, he said.
"It will make it a little bit easier to deal with in the off-season and coming so close to that championship," Edwards said after claiming his ninth Sprint Cup race of the season but finishing 69 points behind champion Jimmie Johnson. Edwards finished 21 points behind Nationwide champion Clint Bowyer despite winning seven races.
SEE YA: Tony Stewart finished ninth in his final start of a 10-year career with Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart will compete for his own team next season and was emotional about the prospect on pit road before the race.
"Hopefully. after today. I can lead my team the way Joe and J.D. (Gibbs) do," he said.
The message "Thanks Tony for 10 Great Years" was affixed atop the window of his No. 20 Toyota.
CONGRATS: Sprint Cup series director John Darby keyed onto Johnson's channel after the race to congratulate Chad Knaus, who became the first crew chief to win three straight titles. (Cale Yarborough used two in his three-year run).
Responded Knaus: "It's the first time I made it without being suspended, too," referring to his past history of exploring the parameters of NASCAR's rule book and subsequently being sanctioned.
"I was going to make light of the fact that this is your first full-time year in the Chase," Darby chimed back.
ALMOST: Zephyrhills native David Reutimann raced inside the top 10 most of the afternoon after starting from the pole, even after his team detected an engine problem, but he had to pit with 20 laps left for fuel and finished 20th.
IN PROGRESS: Both the vague answers and refusals to comment from the principals of the announced Dale Earnhardt Inc., Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates merger suggest there is still much to do before the underperforming teams combine and streamline operations. Ganassi said he was "in no mood" to answer questions before storming through the garage Sunday before the race, and DEI president of global operations Max Siegel said "there is nothing to report."
The new team must first decide whether to honor DEI's commitment with perennial manufacturers' champion Chevrolet or struggling Dodge, which supported Ganassi. Siegel said meetings would commence soon.
WORTH IT: Ford NASCAR marketing manager Tim Duerr said sponsoring the final weekend of NASCAR's top three series remains lucrative although four straight Chevrolet drivers have sealed Sprint Cup championships there. (Five straight Fords have won the Cup race, however.) Homestead will be the company's only entitlement in 2009 because "we see it as our opportunity to be big somewhere," Duerr said.
WATCHING FROM AFAR: Yarborough watched Johnson tie his mark from his farm in South Carolina. The 69-year-old told Homestead officials that he could not attend a Thursday media event in Miami because of a prior commitment, and he was not specifically invited for Sunday.