Johnson makes NASCAR history with victory in Miami

Jimmie Johnson etched his name into the history books of NASCAR with a race victory and title victory in South Florida.

The driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet took the lead from Kyle Larson on the final restart of the race in overtime to win the Ford EcoBoost 400 and his record-tying seventh Sprint Cup Series championship.

“Oh my gosh, there is no, no way on earth. Just beyond words,” Johnson said. “Just didn’t think the race was unfolding for us like we needed to do to be the champs, but we just kept our heads in the game. Chad called a great strategy, made some great adjustments for the short runs.  Luck came our way and we were able to win the race and win the championship. I wouldn’t be here without so many people believing in me and giving me this chance; from my dirt days – my parents first and foremost, my brothers, my wife and family today.  Car owners, sponsors, Chevrolet, Lowe’s, so many amazing people along the way that believed in me to give me this chance.  Jeff Gordon, Rick Hendrick, all the men and women at Hendrick Motorsports for working so hard to get these cars fast and giving me an awesome 15 years with the company. Just thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  So thrilled to be in this moment and so grateful for the opportunity and so thankful and blessed. I am at a loss for words.”

It’s his 80th win in 543 career Sprint Cup Series starts, fifth of 2016 and first at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

He joins Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt in a tie for first in most championships in NASCAR history. He and Chad Knaus also join Petty and Dale Inman as the only driver/crew chief duo’s to win seven championships.

Larson, who led a race-high of 132 laps, finished runner-up. It’s his 15th top-10 finish on the season.

The run to the finish was setup by a caution with 15 laps to go related to Dylan Lupton.

On the restart with 10 to go, Joey Logano tried to go inside of Carl Edwards, Edwards went down to block him, but got himself hooked into the inside wall. This led to a multi-car wreck that took out a number of cars, notably Martin Truex Jr., whose car went up in flames.

Logano brought his car home fourth.

“It was eventful to say the least,” Logano said of his race. “I hate being that close to a championship and not getting it. The team did a great job all day. We had a good race car and we put ourselves in position to win. No one made any mistakes or anything like that on our pit crew. That last restart, I was hoping to get Jimmie there and trying to get either to the inside or outside of him. I just timed it a little bit wrong to get underneath him. I just didn’t have enough time to get under him. We lost some time there and unfortunately we finish second. The championship means so much and everyone forgets about second place. That is what stinks. But overall I am proud of this team. This will be motivation for next year. This hurts.”

It required the race to be red-flagged for 31 minutes and nine seconds.

On the following restart with five to go, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got loose exiting turn 2, slid down the track and slammed into the inside wall.

“I was just trying to get all I could get there,” Stenhouse said. “It looked like the 3 got underneath the 20 and I tried to get underneath the 3 and when I did he was really close to my door and it just kind of sucked me around and we got loose. It’s a bummer way to end. We were just kind of average all night. It’s a tough way to end the season, but we’ll build it and get back ready for next year.”

Kyle Busch made the decision to pit under the caution and wound up finishing sixth, clinching the 2016 manufacturer’s championship for Toyota and snapping a 13-year win streak by Chevrolet.

Edwards finished 34th retired from the race in that accident with 10 to go.

Notables include a third-place finish by Kevin Harvick, who led 79 laps, and Michael McDowell finishing 10th.

“We had a great car,” McDowell said. “We made up a lot of spots in the beginning and we just sort of maintained that all day. We were running right there 16th – 20th most of the day and the strategy worked out, everything played out. Got back on the lead lap which obviously was a game changer. There at the end we got a couple of good restarts and we had a good car. We were able to close off a good season.”

Sixteen cars finished the race on the lead lap and 32 cars were running at the finish.

The race lasted three hours, seven minutes and 10 seconds at an average speed of 128.869 mph. There were 20 lead changes among six different drivers and seven cautions for 33 laps.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."


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