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Brad Keselowski claims 2012 Sprint Cup championship, Jeff Gordon wins Ford 400

Brad Keselowski won the 2012 Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, besting Clint Bowyer by 34 points. Jimmie Johnson fell out of the race and dropped to third. Jeff Gordon won the Ford Eco-Boost 400 for his first win at Homestead and the 87th of his career.

Chris Graythen

Brad Keselowski is NASCAR's newest champion.

The native of Rochester Hills, MI, won the 2012 Sprint Cup Series championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, bringing home the first top-level stock car title for legendary car owner Roger Penske. The crown for the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge is the automaker's first title since Richard Petty's 1975 championship. It is also the first championship triumph for Miller Brewing Company since 1983, when Bobby Allison claimed his lone title in a Buick sponsored by their Miller High Life Brand.

At one point it seemed the title might go Jimmie Johnson's way. He made his final scheduled pit stop of the race with 54 laps remaining, within the window for him to reach the finish without another pit stop. Keselowski, meanwhile, would have needed another stop. Unfortunately for Johnson, his rear tire changer failed to get all the lug nuts on the left rear wheel, forcing him to make another pit stop. It wound up being a moot point, as Johnson's rear-end gear burned up soon-thereafter and ended his 2012 season.

With his DNF, Johnson fell to third in the final standings. Clint Bowyer, who finished second in the race, ended up with the runner-up ranking in points.

Jeff Gordon won the Ford Eco-Boost 400 on a fuel mileage strategy similar to the one Johnson was looking to employ. It capped off a tumultuous week for the four-time champ, who was under a storm of controversy after intentionally crashing Bowyer last Sunday in Phoenix. Many onlookers - including fellow drivers - called for Gordon's suspension from this weekend's race, but NASCAR chose only to fine him $100,000 and dock him 25 championship points.

The win is the first at Homestead not only for Gordon but for the entire Hendrick Motorsports operation.

Bowyer as stated took second. Ryan Newman finished third in his last race with the US Army as sponsor of his No. 39 Chevrolet. Kyle Busch absolutely dominated the night but was felled once again by fuel strategy and wound up fourth, with Greg Biffle taking fifth.

Martin Truex Jr., who battled Busch for much of the latter stages of the race, wound up sixth, with Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completing the top-10. Keselowski ended the race in 15th.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.