Jimmy Johnson wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship for the 7th time, tying Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most championships.
Because NASCAR found an issue with a front A-post in pre-race inspections, Johnson had to start last in the EcoBoost 400. By lap 40, Johnson was fifth behind the other championship contenders, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano. Those four drivers spent most of the race in the top 6 positions, but Johnson was always behind the other three.
Edwards was the class of the field for most of the race but with less than 100 laps to go, Logano passed him on a restart. The four championship contenders did not have to win the race. They only had to have the best finish among the four.
Logano, Busch and Edwards swapped the lead for the next 60 laps but Johnson was always fourth behind the other three. Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick, not in championship contention, raced with the four contenders making the race interesting. Cautions in the last 60 laps created many lead changes due to pit strategy.
With Larson taking the lead, Logano was in championship position. Busch and Edwards traded positions with Logano, but Johnson was able to stay within reach. Another caution came out with 15 laps to go and on the lap-259 restart, Logano tried to go way below Edwards, who moved down to block him. The two made contact, which sent Edwards’ car hard into the inside wall and back across the track to the outside wall. That brought out a 31 minute, 9 second red flag period and another restart.
This time, Logano pitted for tires, but Busch and Johnson stayed out. When the green flag dropped on lap 263, Johnson jumped ahead of Logano, only to see Ricky Stenhouse Jr. crash. On the next restart, Johnson took the lead to win and to seal his place in NASCAR history. Johnson only led 3 laps, but with everything going his way, he became the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion.
“Oh my gosh, there is no, no way on earth,” Johnson said. “Just beyond words. Just didn’t think the race was unfolding for us like we needed to do to be the champs, but we just kept our heads in the game. Luck came our way and we were able to win the race and win the championship.”
Other notes of interest:
Chase Elliott was named Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
Toyota wins the Manufacturers Champion-ship, sweeping all three NASCAR national series this season.
This was three-time champion Tony Stewart’s last Cup race as a driver.