Keselowski crowned champion but Johnson stays on top in Rankings
Brad Keselowski became the first Penske driver to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup title after his chief rival Jimmie Johnson hit trouble in the Homestead finale.
Johnson had jumped into the lead following a two-tyre stop strategy, but his race fell apart when he was handed a penalty for a missing lug nut and retired shortly afterward with transmission issues.
That left Keselowski with an effective free-run to the crown, 15th at the flag enough for his triumph to be sealed.
While the Penske man therefore prevailed in the championship, it was Johnson who held the upper hand in the Castrol EDGE Rankings.
Despite his retirement costing him one spot – Johnson fell to ninth – he still ended the season as the Sprint Cup’s highest-ranked driver.
His nearest competition was not Keselowski but Denny Hamlin, who finished sixth in the championship and ended 12th in the Rankings.
Keselowski was just one spot back in 13th. During his title season he gained 13 places, having started back in 26th.
Finishing just 15th left the newly-crowned champion vulnerable however, with Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch both closing in.
Of the duo Busch’s gain were the most significant, the 27-year-old jumping five spots to 15th on the back of his fourth-place finish.
Racewinner Jeff Gordon – who finished fractions ahead of Clint Bowyer, the man he clashed with at Phoenix – also enjoyed similarly sizeable gains.
He vaulted five spots to 28th, the highest he has been since August.
Bowyer may not have been able to deny Gordon, but he did at least have the satisfaction of finishing ahead of him in the Rankings, ending the season as he did in 24th.
Ryan Newman, who claimed the final step of the Homestead podium, moved up one spot into 46th.
His rise helped carry above one-time Rankings leader Carl Edwards, whose late slump concluded with an eight-place fall to 49th.
Edwards had been eighth, ahead of any other Sprint Cup driver, just three months ago.