HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson did everything he had to do on Sunday, finishing ninth to lock up his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway during the Ford EcoBoost 400.
“I don’t even know where to start. I am at a loss for words. I am just so proud and so thankful for this opportunity at Hendrick Motorsports,” Johnson said. “This sport is about people and our people at Hendrick Motorsports, especially on this 48 car, rose up and got the job done this year.”
Johnson appeared on cruise control most of the race, but there was a brief scare for Johnson late in Sunday’s race. With 74 laps to go Johnson was involved in a dustup during a restart with championship rival Matt Kenseth and several other drivers, damaging the left-front fender on his Chevrolet SS.
Johnson dropped from his top-10 position to approximately 23rd as he struggled to keep his car under control. He managed to keep the car under control and gain a few positions back during the green flag run before catching a caution flag on lap 206 when Paul Menard’s right-rear tire failed.
“I had contact from behind that pushed me up into the 20 (Kenseth) and both of us were out of control and sliding towards the outside fence at that point, so I didn’t’ know what to think,” Johnson said. “It got us mired back in traffic and made the last 50 laps kind of interesting. We still had an awesome race car and got the job done.”
Thankfully for Johnson the damage to his car was minimal, allowing his crew to quickly fix the damage and send him back out on track during the round of pit stops under caution. From that point forward, the goal for Johnson was simply to survive and claim his sixth title.
“I’m just so happy to win this sixth championship,” Johnson said.
The championship was the 11th for team owner Rick Hendrick, who has earned championships with Johnson (six), Jeff Gordon (four) and Terry Labonte (one).
The final championship standings show Johnson besting Kenseth by 19 points for his sixth title. Kevin Harvick completed his final season at Richard Childress Racing by finishing third in the championship standings, 34 points shy of Johnson.
Kyle Busch was fourth in the championship standings, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch.