Jimmie Johnson Wins at Homestead, Earns Record-Tying Seventh Championship

Sunday, November 20, 2016. A day that will be remembered in NASCAR history forever.

Jimmie Johnson won the Ford EcoBoost 400 and his record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in doing so. Johnson is now tied with two of the greatest to ever drive a stock car: Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Johnson yammered in disbelief on the No. 48 team radio after crossing the finish line to win for the first time at Homestead-Miami Speedway, fifth time this season and 80th time in his illustrious career. He passed Kyle Larson on the final restart of the evening in overtime and led the final three laps—his only laps led all race.

“Oh, my gosh, there is no, no way on earth,” Johnson said upon exiting his car to NBC. “Just beyond words. Just didn’t think the race was unfolding for us like we needed to be the champs, but we just kept our heads in the game. Chad (Knaus) called a great strategy, made some great adjustments for the short runs.”

“Luck came our way and we were able to win the race and win the championship. So grateful for the opportunity, and so thankful and blessed. I am at a loss for words.”

Larson finished second with polesitter Kevin Harvick coming home in third place.

The green/white/checkered finish was set up with a game-changing crash with 10 laps remaining. Carl Edwards (led 47 laps) restarted second on the inside with fellow Chase contender Joey Logano on his bumper.

The No. 22 got a great restart and shot to the No. 19’s inside. Edwards blocked, Logano was there, and next thing you know, Edwards was sent head-first into the inside retaining wall, collecting others on his way back up the track. His championship hopes were dashed in the blink of an eye.

“That was 100 percent on me,” Edwards radioed to his team after the wreck.

“Joey just timed it perfectly,” Edwards said upon exiting the infield care center. “He moved down, I thought I could feel him a little and I just thought that–I was probably a little optimistic, but I thought I could clear him or force him to lift […] I risked too much.”

Edwards added that he “couldn’t go to bed” knowing he didn’t do anything and everything in his power to make sure he gave it his all. After his heartbreaking defeat to Tony Stewart (finished 22nd in his final NASCAR race of his career on Sunday) on a tiebreaker back in 2011 at Homestead, he knows what coming so close feels like.

Logano finished fourth in the race and second in the championship, but lamented his mistake, which caused small damage to his No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford.

“I understand why he had to throw the block, and he understands why I had to make the move, because that was for the win,” Logano said. “That was the only shot that I had. That was for the race win. It’s 10 to go; what do you expect? It’s for a championship.”

Defending champion Kyle Busch finished sixth in the race and third in the final standings, as he failed to go back-to-back in his 2016 campaign.

But Johnson knows all about back-to-back … to-back-to-back-to-back.

Yes, his five titles in a row from 2006 to 2010 are unprecedented. And so is winning eight championships in NASCAR. Down the road, Johnson, Knaus and team owner Rick Hendrick have their eye on more history and another trophy. But for now, they’re living in the moment.