NASCAR Gets Dream Finish As Stewart Holds Off Edwards For Championship
NASCAR "couldn't have scripted" its championship finale better, as Tony Stewart won yesterday's Ford 400 to claim the Sprint Cup Series title over Carl Edwards, according to Tim Stephens of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. It was the "first time since the point system was implemented in 1975 that a driver came from behind to win the title by winning the final race." Stewart said, "If this doesn't go down as one of the greatest championship battles in history, I don't know what will" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/21). In Charlotte, Jim Utter writes NASCAR "certainly got what it wanted -- and needed -- in Sunday's wild, down-to-the-wire championship finale." Utter: "It had the feel of a heavyweight title fight, with just as much hype and plenty of in-ring action" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/21). Stewart, who became co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing in '09, is the "first owner-driver to win the championship since Alan Kulwicki" in '92. In N.Y., Edgar Thompson writes, "The winner-take-all season finale between Stewart and Edwards lived up to its billing" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/21). In West Palm Beach, Dave George: "NASCAR put on a show that may win more new fans than all of Jimmie Johnson's record five straight championships combined" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/21). In Miami, Gary Long writes the one-two finish ended what "even old-timers must acknowledge as the greatest championship duel in the sport's history" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/21). Also in Miami, Greg Cote writes Stewart had one of the "most clutch performances ever in motor sports" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/21). YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote the finale "was one of the finest races in NASCAR history" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/20). In Jacksonville, Don Coble: "The month-long battle between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart will be remembered for generations" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 11/21).
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France at his season-ending news conference on Friday said that he "wants drivers to speak their minds but that there’s a line when comments 'denigrate' the sport." France "wouldn’t talk specifically about the apparent fine on Brad Keselowski for comments he made last week that were critical of fuel injection, but said the sanctioning body decided a couple of years ago to fine drivers for what it considers excessive criticism." NASCAR in the last two years "has apparently fined at least four drivers for negative comments." France said that there "could be other fines that the public doesn’t know about." He said, "Drivers are going to be able to speak their mind and criticize the sport way more than any other sport would allow. However, there has to be some limits, and we thought those limits were being exceeded in the last couple of years because you can’t denigrate the sport." France added that NASCAR "would re-examine its policy of not disclosing the fines" (SCENEDAILY.com, 11/18). Meanwhile, in Orlando, George Diaz noted there "could be more tweaks in the Chase format." There will "definitely be a significant change in restrictor-plate races at Daytona and Talladega," and the sport "will also trash traditional carburetors in favor of a fuel-injection model" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/19).