NATIONWIDE Ford 300Final
Bowyer claims championship as Edwards wins Ford 300Nov 16, 2008 - 7:06 AM HOMESTEAD, Florida (Ticker) -- Carl Edwards did all he could but still was unable to capture his second straight NASCAR Nationwide Series title.
Clint Bowyer claimed the series championship despite watching Edwards win Saturday's Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Entering with a 56-point advantage over Edwards, Bowyer - who has been atop the standings for 29 straight weeks - finished fifth in a Chevrolet. The series-high 29th top-10 finish earned Bowyer 155 points, giving him a season total of 5,132.
"It's just incredible," Bowyer said. "Carl is a (heck) of a race car driver. ... I'm (darn) proud to be able to beat a race car driver like that, and a team and an organization like he's got behind him.
Bowyer credited Richard Childress for taking a chance on him.
"It makes you think back to how it all started - working in a body shop in Kansas and trying to figure out what was the next move," Bowyer said. "You're out of money, your parents gave up three retirements to get you where you're at, and it was kind of the end of the road.
"Out of nowhere, my cell phone rings and it was Richard. It was just unbelievable to think back how my career started. ... Very proud to be able to do this for Richard. Kind of feels like giving back for taking a chance on me, and finally it paid off."
Edwards, whose Ford edged Kyle Busch's Toyota by 0.639 seconds for his seventh victory of the season and 20th career, led 66 of the race's 200 laps at an average speed of 117.340 miles per hour and finished with 190 points. His season total rose to 5,111, leaving the 2007 champion 21 behind Bowyer in the final standings.
"That is a great win," Edwards said. "To be able to hold off (Busch), as strong as they are. That was a good race, I had a really good time.
"Congratulations to Clint and those guys. He is a class act. It is no good to finish second in the championship, but I know he will be a good champion for Nationwide. If I have to get beat by somebody, a dirt racer from Imporia, Kansas is the best guy to get beat by."
Edwards trailed Bowyer by more than 200 points in September but trimmed the deficit by winning three of his previous seven races, including last week in Phoenix.
Beginning with a win at Richmond on September 7, Edwards has finished fifth of better in every race.
Starting 13th in the No. 2 car, Bowyer helped Richard Childress Racing finish second in the owner's standings with 5,132 points.
"I can't say enough about Clint Bowyer," Childress said. "I see in him what I've seen in some other drivers that were great, and I think he's got everything it takes to be the great one. I'm really proud for him and his family."
Pole-sitter Joey Lagano guided Joe Gibbs Racing to the championship by notching 139 points with a 10th-place finish in the No. 20 Toyota.
"It's good for everyone here to win the championship because they worked really hard all year," Logano said. "It's awesome because all these guys work really hard all year to get to this point. To win it is so cool for them."
The No. 20 car, which earned Gibbs Racing 5,144 points, also was driven by Busch, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin this season.
"For JGR, just a great finish for the year," said J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR and son of Joe Gibbs. "To have all those guys - Tony win, Denny win, Kyle win and then for Joey to finish it off - means a lot to all the guys. This is also a testament to all the guys at Toyota and the partnership that we've put together in a short time."
"They had a great car all year long," said Busch, who notched one of the car's nine victories this season. "The big pat on the back and the big support needs to go back to the guys at the shop. So many guys stepped up to make our car fast and run up front."
Busch, who led 71 laps, came up just short in his quest to break Sam Ard's record of 10 wins in one season set in 1983.
"We had a great race car there and the guys did an awesome job," Busch said. "(Edwards) was real fast and real strong, and we just came up a little short."
Brad Keselowski, who also placed third in the standings, finished third in a Chevrolet and Jason Leffler was fourth in a Toyota.