Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent at Homestead-Miami Speedway by finishing third in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday.
It was Newman’s six top-five finish of 2012 and his first top-five in 11 career Sprint Cup starts at Homestead. Newman’s previous best finish at Homestead was sixth in 2002, one of four top-10 finishes he has at the 1.5-mile oval.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet for SHR, finished 17th after dealing with an ill-handling racecar.
Jeff Gordon won the Ford EcoBoost 400 to score his 87th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Homestead. With the victory, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta is now the only venue on the Sprint Cup circuit where Gordon has yet to win.
Clint Bowyer finished 1.028 seconds behind Gordon in the runner-up spot, while Newman, Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were three caution periods for 17 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race.
Stewart represented SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and came into the final race of the 10-race Chase in ninth place among the 12 Chase drivers. He ended the season ninth in the standings. It marked the 13th time in his 14-year Sprint Cup career that Stewart has finished among the top-10 in points. He finished the 2012 season with three wins, a pole, 12 top-fives and 16 top-10s.
Newman finished the year 14th in the standings with 1,051 points, the second-highest non-Chase driver. He capped his season with 14 top-10s.
The final Chase standings for the 2012 season are as follows:
1. Brad Keselowski (2,400 points) +/-0 position(s)
2. Clint Bowyer (2,361 points, -39) +2
3. Jimmie Johnson (2,360 points, -40) -1
4. Kasey Kahne (2,345 points, -55) -1
5. Greg Biffle (2,332 points, -68) +2
6. Denny Hamlin (2,329 points, -71) -1
7. Matt Kenseth (2,324 points, -76) -1
8. Kevin Harvick (2,321 points, -79) +/-0
9. Tony Stewart (2,311 points, -89) +/-0
10. Jeff Gordon (2,303 points, -97) +1
11. Martin Truex Jr. (2,299 points, -101) -1
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2,245 points, -155) +/-0
This was the first Sprint Cup title for Brad Keselowski. He best previous points finish was fifth, earned last season. Keselowski needed only 125 starts to win his first championship, the fewest starts since Gordon in 1995 (93). Keselowski finished the 2012 season with five wins, 13 top-fives and 23 top-10s.
The 2013 Sprint Cup season kicks off Feb. 15-24 with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 55th Daytona 500, the first point-paying race of the season, is scheduled for Feb. 24 and will be broadcast live on FOX.