Jimmie Johnson wins seventh NASCAR championship

jimmie-j

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) – The Latest on NASCAR’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (all times local):

7:03 p.m.

Jimmie Johnson has won his seventh NASCAR championship.

The win ties Johnson with Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty in the NASCAR record books. He did it by holding off defending champion Kyle Busch and Kyle Logano on a late restart.

The fourth contender in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship was Carl Edwards. His day ended with 10 laps to go after he was collected in a wreck after contact with Logano.

It was also the final NASCAR race for three-time champion Tony Stewart, who is retiring.

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6:25 p.m.

Carl Edwards’ championship chances are over.

Joey Logano tried to pass Edwards on a restart with 10 laps to go at the winner-take-all finale, but Edwards tried to fend off the move to maintain his position.

Contact between the two sent Edwards hard into an interior wall, then all the way across the track for a second hit. He was the most dominant driver of the four Chase contenders, but was left with a wrecked race car.

Jimmie Johnson benefited from the incident because he drove through the wreckage and wound up ahead of the remaining two title contenders – Logano and Kyle Busch – for the restart.

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5:40 p.m.

The championship contenders are back near the front of the field.

Carl Edwards was running second with 60 laps to go at Homestead-Miami Speedway, just ahead of Joey Logano (third), Kyle Busch (fourth) and Jimmie Johnson (sixth). The four finalists were setting the NASCAR season finale up for a frantic finish.

Edwards and Logano have been the best of the bunch. Busch battled back from a lap down – he pitted out of sequence because he thought he had a flat tire – and Johnson was penalized before the race and had to start at the back of the field. Busch and Johnson have been in the top 10, but have yet to lead a lap in the finale.

Kyle Larson is leading the 400-mile race.

– Mark Long.

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4:55 p.m.

Defending NASCAR champion Kyle Busch has dropped a lap down in the season finale, potentially damaging his title hopes.

Busch felt a vibration, thought he had a flat tire and pulled down pit road on Lap 137, shortly after the halfway point in the 400-mile race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The unscheduled pit stop left Busch a lap behind the leaders. He needs a caution to get back on the lead lap.

– Mark Long

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4:50 p.m.

Carl Edwards is halfway to his first championship.

Edwards was ahead of fellow title contenders Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson at the midway point of the 400-mile race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Whichever of the four drivers finishes highest will win the championship.

Kyle Larson, using the high line to generate more speed around the 1 1/2-mile track, retook the lead from Edwards on Lap 126. Edwards was second, with Logano fourth, Busch fifth and Johnson ninth.

– Mark Long

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3:55 p.m.

Jimmie Johnson’s pre-race penalty proved to be a minor speed bump in the NASCAR finale.

Johnson had to start at the back of the 40-car field after NASCAR pulled his No. 48 Chevrolet off pit road because of unapproved body modifications. Officials determined body panels had been tweaked after going through pre-race laser inspection. The car eventually made it through tech and was pushed back to the starting grid a few minutes before the green flag.

Johnson needed just 47 laps to work his way into the top five. Kevin Harvick led most of the early laps, with Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch right behind. Edwards, Logano, Busch and Johnson are the championship finalists, all vying to win it all in the finale.

Johnson is attempting to match Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with a NASCAR-record seven championships.

– Mark Long

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3:25 p.m.

NASCAR’s season finale is underway, with pole-sitter Kevin Harvick leading the 40-car field to the green flag.

The race is scheduled for 400 miles, or 267 laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The event is filled with story lines, including Tony Stewart’s final NASCAR race as well as the 2016 championship. Finalists Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano are vying for the title. Whichever of the foursome finishes highest wins it all.

The 36 other drivers are expected to give them plenty of space around the track, not wanting to affect the outcome.

– Mark Long

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3:10 p.m.

Jimmie Johnson will have to start a potential record-tying race at the back of the field.

NASCAR pulled Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet off pit road after officials decided body panels had been modified after going through pre-race laser inspection. The car eventually made it through tech and was pushed back to the starting grid a few minutes before the green flag.

Johnson is attempting to match Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with a NASCAR-record seven championships.

– Mark Long

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