Closest NASCAR Cup ever, who won?

593990.jpg

Closest NASCAR Cup ever, who won?

From Comcast SportsNet

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP)Tony Stewarts third NASCAR championship was much different his first two.

It was historic.

Stewart became the first driverowner to win a championship since Alan Kulwicki accomplished the feat in 1992. Kulwicki overcame a huge deficit over the final six races. Stewart claimed his third title by becoming the first driver to clinch the championship by winning the season finale.

Its an honor to be in the same category with Alan Kulwicki, Stewart said. But Alan did it all on his own. Ive got a great co-owner with Gene Haas, and (general manager) Joe Custer helped put all this together with (Hendrick Motorsports owner) Rick Hendrick.

Stewart won Cup championships in 2002 and 2005 while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. He stepped out on his own in 2009, teaming with Haas for financial support and getting engines from Hendrick, and delivered the ultimate prize in just his third season.

Stewart became the ninth driver in NASCAR history to win three of more championships, a list that includes Lee Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough.

Ive got the best team in the business and its just awesome, Stewart said. Im so grateful to be able to do this for Gene. Hes invested so much in the sport, and for him to have the faith in me to do this, it just takes a lot to do what hes done and Im glad I could get it done for him.

CAREER LOW FOR 5-TIME: Jimmie Johnsons problems in the season finale left him with his worst career finish in the Cup standings.

Johnson, who won the previous five championships, had engine problems early in Sundays race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and later got spun by David Gilliland.

He ended the race six laps down, finished 32nd and dropped to sixth in the final points. He had never finished lower than fifth since his rookie season in 2002. He also ended the year without a pole for the first time in his 10 full seasons.

He was eliminated from title contention at Phoenix last week, but came to Homestead hoping to end the year on a high note. Instead, he endured all sorts of problems.

Internal engine parts seemed to be the biggest culprit.

I started getting some warning signs on the way into the pits that it was an internal situation and those internal parts were trying to find a way out, Johnson said. So we are out of the points(was) trying to finish in the top fivebut if we can get on the track and get going, other guys have some trouble, maybe we can get something going there. Just disappointed.

Sad way to end the season, but it is racing. We will come back next year.
SPONSOR NEGOTIATIONS: Sprint is deep in negotiations with NASCAR to continue title sponsorship of its top racing series.

The current 10-year deal with NASCAR expires at the end of the 2013 season, but talks on an extension have been ongoing on and Steve Gaffney, vice president of corporate marketing for Sprint, was pleased with the negotiations.

Were really hopeful well have some good news to announce soon, Gaffney said during Sundays season finale.

The deal began in 2004 with Nextel, which was eventually acquired by Sprint. The series was re-branded the Sprint Cup Series in 2008.

NASCAR chief marketing officer Steve Phelps acknowledged renewal talks are progressing.

We continue to have discussions, and both parties are interested in continuing the relationship, Phelps said.

Gaffney said Sprint has been thrilled with the title race between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart, and felt the last month has increased interest in NASCAR.

Its been the perfect amount of rhetoric, Gaffney said. The talk has been just right, not too over the top, and its been an exciting time to follow the series. We couldnt be more excited with how things developed and got to this finale.
NO BUSCH BASH: Brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch both made the Chase for the championship, and Kyle even opened NASCARs 10-race title bout atop the standings.

But neither contended.

Kurt finished 11th in the final standings, one spot ahead of Kyle, who was suspended by NASCAR at Texas. Their positions at the bottom of the standings means neither will be eligible to participate on the stage during the season-ending awards ceremony in Las Vegastheir hometown.

Ive never been so disappointed in my life, Kurt Busch said. I think I missed a race once my rookie year and this almost tops that.
PRESIDENTIAL GUESTS: Michelle Obama and Jill Biden visited NASCARs season finale.

The first lady and the vice presidents wife were on hand to honor military troops and families and recognize new commitments by companies planning to hire and train veterans and military spouses. It was part of their Joining Forces program.

The women received a standing ovation at the pre-race drivers meeting. Obama said NASCAR has been amazing in terms of its support, not just today but every day for military families.

These military families are amazing, Obama said. Days like this just remind them that they do have a country that cares and appreciates what they do, and it means so much to them.

Obama and Biden went from the drivers meeting to a barbecue for military families. They later served as grand marshals for the finale, delivering those famous racing words: Gentlemen, start your engines.

Chip Kelly coached 49ers in Chicago despite father's death

Chip Kelly coached 49ers in Chicago despite father's death

CHICAGO – Paul Kelly, the father of Chip Kelly, passed away on Friday night, the 49ers coach confirmed Sunday afternoon.

Kelly flew from Chicago to New Hampshire late Friday after learning of his father’s death. He returned for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. The 49ers lost their 11th consecutive game, a 26-6 defeat to the Bears.

When asked if he considered not coaching in the game, Kelly told CSNBayArea.com, “My mom wanted me to coach.”

Kelly said the team was making travel plans to send him back to New Hampshire after the game to be with his family, including his mother, Jean.

General manager Trent Baalke informed the 49ers’ players during a meeting Saturday morning in Chicago.

Paul Kelly was a retired trial lawyer and a member of the New Hampshire Bar from 1960 to 2000.

In a 2009 profile on the Kelly family in the Oregonian, Paul Kelly was described as “cerebral, successful and competitive.” The article states that throughout Chip Kelly's childhood, his father preached, “Deeds, not words.”

Broncos' defense proves to be too much for Bortles, Jaguars

roby-bradley-us.jpg
USATSI

Broncos' defense proves to be too much for Bortles, Jaguars

BOX SCORE

JACKSONVILLE -- Bradley Roby returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown, helping the Denver Broncos beat the mistake-prone Jacksonville Jaguars 20-10 on Sunday and gain ground in the AFC playoff picture.

Roby picked off Blake Bortles' wobbler across the middle in the third quarter and went untouched the other way. Star linebacker Von Miller hit Bortles as he released the ball.

It was the 11th pick-6 of Bortles' three-year career and his third in the last four games. Houston and Detroit also returned interceptions for touchdowns in games the Jaguars lost by less than seven points.

The latest one resulted in a seventh consecutive loss for Jacksonville (2-10) and secured another miserable milestone for the small-market franchise. The Jaguars became the fifth team in NFL history to post double-digit losses in six consecutive seasons, joining Tampa Bay (1983-94), Detroit (2001-06), Oakland (2003-09) and Cleveland (2008-13).

Jacksonville had a chance to tie in the final minutes, but Bortles fumbled trying to make a play in the pocket.

The Broncos (8-4) rebounded from an overtime loss against Kansas City, and with Miami's loss at Baltimore, moved into position to get one of the conference's wild-card spots.

They did it without quarterback Trevor Siemian , who missed the game with a sprained left foot. Rookie Paxton Lynch made his second career start and first on the road. Denver didn't ask him to do too much. He didn't need to, either, not against the self-destructing Jaguars.

The Broncos scored all 20 points with help from Jacksonville.

Aside from the pick-6, the Jaguars committed two 15-yard penalties that led to a touchdown and a field goal. Linebacker Telvin Smith was flagged for roughing the passes on third-and-5 in the second quarter. Lynch's pass was incomplete, but Smith grazed his facemask. Devontae Booker scored six plays later, breaking Smith's tackle near the line of scrimmage and carrying safety Johnathan Cyprien across the goal line.

Reserve tight end Alex Ellis was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a punt return in the final minute of the half. His 15-yarder set up Brandon McManus' 32-yard field goal and put the Broncos ahead 10-3.

And Denver's final field goal in the waning seconds came after Bortles' fumble.

But Roby's interception was the dagger. It was huge for Roby, who gave up a late touchdown to New Orleans two weeks ago and surrendered an 11-yard catch on fourth-and-10 last week against the Chiefs.

SPECIAL TEAMS WOES

The Jaguars continued their streak of special teams gaffes. Ellis' unnecessary roughness foul gave Jacksonville a major meltdown on special teams for the seventh consecutive week. The streak includes five muffed punts - including three turnovers - a punt return for a touchdown and two long punt returns that set up scores.

GOOD COMPANY

Harris' interception was his second of the year, giving him five consecutive seasons with multiple picks. He's the fifth cornerback in the NFL to accomplish the feat, joining teammate Aqib Talib, Arizona's Patrick Peterson, New York Giants' Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Seattle's Richard Sherman.

HELPING HANDS

Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson continues to help his opponents. Robinson dropped his sixth pass of the season and his third that resulted in an interception.

Robinson bobbled a deep pass from Bortles down the left sideline, and it landed Harris Jr.'s hands for Bortles' 14th interception of the season. Robinson, a Pro Bowler last season, also bobbled passes that ended up as picks against Chicago and Oakland earlier this season.

UP NEXT

Broncos: at Tennessee on Sunday.

Jaguars: Host Minnesota on Sunday.