Greg Biffle continued his streak of Homestead victories by winning the NASCAR Nextel Cup season finale, but all eyes were on Jimmie Johnson as he clinched the Cup with ninth place.
Johnson's Chase for the Cup rivals were given a glimmer of hope when he pitted to check for possible radiator damage after collecting debris from the second of Kurt Busch's early accidents.
But the Hendrick Chevrolet was only superficially affected, and within 40 laps Johnson had recovered from the tail of the field to the 12th position that would guarantee the title.
Thereafter he remained in the lower part of the top ten for most of the distance, which was more than sufficient.
"This has been a long race - I'm glad it's over," said Johnson's team boss Rick Hendrick. "Just like all year, they've been perfect."
None of the Chase contenders could make a serious bid for the race victory. Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch battled for the lead initially, although Busch would fall back and eventually crash out.
Alternate strategies allowed Dale Earnhardt Jr, Martin Truex Jr and Elliott Sadler to enjoy periods in the lead before Kahne returned to the front following pitstops on lap 206.
This time Kahne was unable to pull away, and he soon came under pressure from Biffle, who took the lead on lap 215 and never looked back.
He was briefly headed by JJ Yeley at a late restart - Yeley having stayed out as the leaders pitted and consequently gained track position, although this proved to be a mixed blessing as he ran out of fuel in the closing laps and had to retire.
By that time Biffle had already repassed Yeley and pulled away. An eleventh hour caution (caused by Casey Mears' engine failure) led to a one-lap showdown, but Biffle handled the situation calmly and resisted Truex and Denny Hamlin's last-gasp charges.
"This Ford Fusion race car is just so awesome," said Biffle. "It's the same car that's won here three years in a row. These fans down here at the Miami-Homestead race track are just something else. Really, it's just a flawless night."
Juan Pablo Montoya made a promising NASCAR Nextel Cup debut. He rose as high as 13th in the race, going wheel to wheel with established stars like Tony Stewart along the way.
However, Montoya did not reach the chequered flag, as contact with 14 laps to go sent him into the Turn 1 wall at high speed. Despite a dramatic-looking fuel fire, Montoya quickly climbed out of the car without injury.
Pos Driver Make Laps
1. Greg Biffle Ford 268
2. Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet 268
3. Denny Hamlin Chevrolet 268
4. Kasey Kahne Dodge 268
5. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 268
6. Matt Kenseth Ford 268
7. Scott Riggs Dodge 268
8. Carl Edwards Ford 268
9. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 268
10. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 268
11. David Stremme Dodge 268
12. Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 268
13. Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 268
14. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 268
15. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 268
16. Reed Sorenson Dodge 268
17. Paul Menard Chevrolet 268
18. Mark Martin Ford 268
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 268
20. Tony Raines Chevrolet 268
21. Brian Vickers Chevrolet 267
22. Jeff Green Chevrolet 267
23. Ryan Newman Dodge 267
24. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 267
25. Bill Elliott Chevrolet 267
26. Dave Blaney Dodge 266
27. Travis Kvapil Chevrolet 266
28. Kyle Petty Dodge 266
29. Ken Schrader Ford 266
30. J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 265
31. Dale Jarrett Ford 265
32. Casey Mears Dodge 261
33. David Gilliland Ford 257
34. Juan Montoya Dodge 251
35. Jamie McMurray Ford 250
36. Elliott Sadler Dodge 230
37. Sterling Marlin Chevrolet 213
38. Kyle Busch Chevrolet 206
39. Mike Bliss Dodge 201
40. Robby Gordon Chevrolet 187
41. Bobby Labonte Dodge 83
42. Jeremy Mayfield Dodge 78
43. Kurt Busch Dodge 9