Homestead NASCAR: Brad Keselowski champion, Jeff Gordon wins

Brad Keselowski became the first Penske driver to clinch a NASCAR Sprint Cup title with 15th at Homestead, as Jimmie Johnson retired with a transmission problem and Jeff Gordon took the final win of 2012

Homestead NASCAR: Brad Keselowski champion, Jeff Gordon wins

Johnson's issue came just a few laps after he had stopped to serve a penalty for a missing lug nut on a left-rear wheel, on what was set to be his final pitstop.

Before that, Johnson had been in position to win the race following a two-tyre stop that allowed him to jump to the lead during the second caution of the day.

That was followed by a stop under the final caution that placed him on the right strategy to complete the distance with only one more stop while others, including Keselowski, needed two.

However, his penalty ruined his chances of fighting for victory and his subsequent mechanical failure allowed his rival to clinch the title with 24 laps still remaining.

Gordon, who was on the same strategy as Johnson, showed what could have been for the five-time champion by winning, although Keselowski managed in the end to finish 15th, proving he could have clinched the title regardless of Johnson's result.

"He's the best," said Keselowski about Johnson. "He proved here today he was going to win this damn race and I know that.

"We were not as we wanted to be, I'll be the first to admit that, but my guys never gave up, we kept working and at the end were able to get back up enough to where it wouldn't have mattered if he had won, which made me feel a lot better."

The Penske driver had approached his most important race yet with the aim of fighting for victory and being aggressive, but for most of the event, he and his crew chief Paul Wolfe seemed to be cautious and Keselowski was not a contender for the lead despite starting the race from the front row.

Johnson was disappointed to see his hopes dashed by yet another technical issue after a deflating right-front tyre a week earlier at Phoenix had lost him the Chase lead and placed him 20 points behind Keselowski in the championship standings.

"Definitely a disappointing finish to it all," said Johnson. "We were putting the pressure on like we need to. We had strategy on our side. We were really in position to make it interesting there at the end.

"A couple of little problems... well, one problem then a fatal issue got us at the end. We are not sure why we lost the rear-end gear."

Clint Bowyer finished the race second behind Gordon and his result, added to Johnson's 36th place, meant he finished the Chase as championship runner-up.

Results - 267 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                         Time/Gap
 1.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet           2h48m56.000s
 2.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota                   + 1.028s
 3.  Ryan Newman         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet          + 13.519s
 4.  Kyle Busch          Gibbs Toyota                    + 16.593s
 5.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford               + 17.540s
 6.  Martin Truex Jr     Waltrip Toyota                  + 17.704s
 7.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                      + 19.517s
 8.  Kevin Harvick       Childress Chevrolet             + 20.924s
 9.  Kurt Busch          Furniture Row Chevrolet         + 24.432s
10.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet              + 26.596s
11.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet             + 27.389s
12.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford               + 34.075s
13.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                      + 39.533s
14.  Joey Logano         Gibbs Toyota                    + 45.536s
15.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Dodge                      + 1 lap
16.  Mark Martin         Waltrip Toyota                    + 1 lap
17.  Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet            + 1 lap
18.  Matt Kenseth        Roush Fenway Ford                 + 1 lap
19.  Jeff Burton         Childress Chevrolet               + 1 lap
20.  Jamie McMurray      Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet       + 1 lap
21.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet                + 1 lap
22.  Sam Hornish Jr      Penske Dodge                      + 1 lap
23.  Trevor Bayne        Wood Brothers Ford                + 1 lap
24.  Denny Hamlin        Gibbs Toyota                      + 1 lap
25.  Bobby Labonte       JTG Daugherty Toyota             + 2 laps
26.  Travis Kvapil       BK Toyota                        + 2 laps
27.  Landon Cassill      BK Toyota                        + 2 laps
28.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet      + 3 laps
29.  Casey Mears         Germain Ford                     + 3 laps
30.  Regan Smith         Phoenix Chevrolet                + 3 laps
31.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford                   + 4 laps
32.  Dave Blaney         Baldwin Chevrolet                + 4 laps
33.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                   + 5 laps
34.  David Reutimann     Baldwin Chevrolet                + 6 laps
35.  JJ Yeley            Max Q Chevrolet                  + 6 laps

Retirements:

     Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet               224 laps
     Ken Schrader        FAS Lane Ford                    219 laps
     David Stremme       Inception Toyota                 183 laps
     Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford                157 laps
     Josh Wise           Front Row Ford                    38 laps
     Michael McDowell    Parsons Ford                      34 laps
     Scott Riggs         R3 Chevrolet                      23 laps
     Mike Bliss          Humphrey Smith Toyota             16 laps
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NASCAR finale: Keselowski v Johnson in focus
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