Stewart Wins Homestead Thriller, Brings Sprint Cup Back Home To Indiana

Sunday, November 20, 2011

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Two-time Brickyard 400 winner Tony Stewart brought the Sprint Cup back home again to Indiana, winning his third NASCAR season championship Sunday, Nov. 20 with a victory in the 2011 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Indiana native Stewart tied Carl Edwards atop the Sprint Cup Series standings with 2403 points, but Stewart earned the title through the tiebreaker of race victories. Stewart earned his fifth victory of the season Sunday, all in the final 10 races of the season. Edwards won just once in 2011. This was the first season-ending tie in Sprint Cup history.

Rain interrupted the 267-lap race three times, including an extended red-flag period. The final showdown between Edwards and Stewart over the last 37 laps came after an extended caution period due to light rain.

“Thank the Lord for this one, buddy,” Stewart said. “It’s been a tough, tough summer and a tough fall for us. You’ve got to believe in something. The man upstairs, he held off this rain just long enough for us. I don’t care how much it rains now. I’m going to be up all night.

“We said all week we just had to win the race and we wouldn’t have to worry about what he (Edwards) did, and that’s what we did. If this doesn’t go down as one of the greatest championship battles of all time, I don’t know what is. I’ve got the best team in the business.”

Stewart, who won at the Brickyard in 2005 and 2007, also won season titles in 2002 and 2005. He remains the only driver to win a championship in the season-long points and Chase formats. This was his first title as team owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, and he is the first owner-driver to win the title since Alan Kulwicki in 1992. Stewart won his first two championships for Joe Gibbs Racing.

One of Stewart’s first decisions when he became owner of Stewart-Haas Racing before the 2009 season was to ask close friend and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt if he could use Foyt’s famous No. 14 on his Chevrolet.

“A.J. always has been one of my heroes, and he’s been very supportive of this when we did this,” Stewart said. “When I asked him if it would be all right if I took his number, he was the one who gave me his blessing. That meant the world to me.”

Stewart climbed from the rear of the field Sunday night to the front twice during the 400-mile season finale at Homestead-Miami, first due to a hole in the front grille of his No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet and then due to a jammed air wrench on a pit stop. He passed more than 100 cars during his multiple trips up the running order.

Edwards entered the season finale with a three-point lead over Stewart and won the pole for this race.

“This night is about Tony Stewart,” Edwards said. “Those guys rose to the occasion. They beat us, fair and square. That’s it. That’s all I got at the end. That’s as hard as I can drive.”

Stewart, Edwards and their fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup stars will race in the Crown Royal Presents The “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the marquee event of the inaugural Super Weekend at the Brickyard.

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Super Weekend tickets: Tickets are on sale now for the Super Weekend at the Brickyard on July 26-29 at IMS.

All ticket orders can be made at www.imstix.com and through the IMS Ticket Office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday. For more information, call the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700, or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area.

Children 12 and under will receive free general admission when accompanied by an adult with a Super Weekend Ticket or general admission ticket.

Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.