HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) -- Tony Stewart held off Carl Edwards to win his third NASCAR championship with a powerful and relentless drive Sunday in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Stewart went into the race trailing Edwards by three points but confident and cocky that he'd be the winner at race's end. He vowed to drive with nothing to lose, and did just that.
Early damage to the front of his Chevrolet dropped him to 40th in the field. But Stewart plowed his way back to the front, using aggressive three and four-wide passes to get back into contention.
He then benefited from pit strategy by crew chief Darian Grubb and a brief rain shower that allowed Stewart to save gas as the cars ticked off laps under yellow. He passed three cars on the restart with 37 laps to go, and Edwards finished a helpless second.
"This night is about Tony Stewart," Edwards said. "Those guys rose to the occasion."
They actually finished tied in the final standings, but Stewart won the title on the tiebreaker: He had five wins this season -- all in the Chase -- to Edwards' one.
"That's all I got," Edwards said. "That's as hard as I can drive. ... I wish so bad we had that trophy, but it just wasn't meant to be tonight."
Stewart became the first owner/driver to win the championship since Alan Kulwicki, and the driver to end Jimmie Johnson's record five-year title run.