Homestead, Fla. Carl Edwards won the season-ending Ford 300 on Saturday night, but came up 21 points short in his attempt to overtake Clint Bowyer for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship.
All Bowyer had to do to keep Edwards from winning a second straight title in the second-tier series was finish in the top eight. He did that easily, taking fifth to stay on top of the standings, right where he has been most of the year despite winning only one of 35 races.
"We've been consistent," Bowyer said after climbing out of his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. "We did the things it takes to win championships. I want to thank Richard for giving me the opportunity."
Edwards wrested the lead from Kyle Busch late in the race and stayed out front to the end of the 200-lap event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He earned his seventh Nationwide victory and kept Busch from recording a record 11th series win.
Edwards did all he could in his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, other than getting the five-point bonus for leading the most laps, but it wasn't enough.
It was a disappointing finish for Edwards, who faces even bigger odds today trying to make up a 141-point deficit against Jimmie Johnson in the Sprint Cup finale. Johnson can wrap up the title by finishing 36th or better, no matter what Edwards does.
Both Edwards and Bowyer had consistent seasons. The difference was Bowyer rolled up 29 top-10 finishes and finished every race, while Edwards had 22 top-10s and failed to finish two races.
The 29-year-old Bowyer, who started the night with a 56-point lead, fell out of the top 10 several times in the first half of the race. He actually trailed Edwards in points several times, but his team used a two-tire pit stop during a caution just past the halfway point to get its driver into the top five, and he managed to stay there the rest of the race.