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NASCAR crowns 2010 champions

Yesterday brought us the final races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series, with Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski taking the top spots in their respective series. This is Keselowski’s first championship in the Nationwide Series and for Jimmie Johnson, this year’s championship is unprecedented his fifth straight title.

Two different routes to the NASCAR championship for Johnson and Keselowski

When Brad Keselowski arrived to at the track for the final race of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, there was no stress for the young driver as he had already tied up the top spot in the series. The only real motivation for Keselowski to perform on Saturday was to help Penske Racing take home the “owners championship” but thanks to a win by the #18 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing (piloted by Kyle Busch), Keselowski’s #22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger fell short of the owners’ cup. However, the young Dodge driver still took home the top prize in the Nationwide Series. Keselowski is expected to make the jump to the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the 2011 season.

Jimmie Johnson, unlike Keselowski, came into the final race on Sunday having to outperform Toyota driver Denny Hamlin to take over the top spot and outperform he did. Johnson was a front-runner all day, becoming the first driver to overcome a deficit in the final race of the season to claim the championship. It was not an easy task for Johnson to win his fifth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup championship but in finishing a close second to Carl Edwards, Johnson pushed Hamlin and his Toyota Camry into the second spot in the points. Kevin Harvick, who entered the last race of the season with a shot (albeit a long one) to win the championship ended up third in overall points, giving Chevrolet the 1st and 3rd spots in this year’s points championship.

Carl Edwards was the top ranking Ford driver at the end of the season and Kurt Busch finished 11th, making him the top placing and only Dodge driver out of the 12 eligible for the “Race for the Cup”.

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