John­son takes shot at his­tory

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Dan Gel­ston The As­so­ci­ated Press

Jim­mie John­son at­tempts a drive into NASCAR his­tory.

Kyle Busch would love to spoil John­son’s record run with a rac­ing mile­stone of his own and win back-to­back Sprint Cup cham­pi­onships.

Joey Logano and Carl Ed­wards just want to join the cham­pi­onship club.

The four fi­nal­ists have raced each other for 35 weeks — and rode bikes, played video games and shared laughs in the leadup to the fi­nale Sun­day at Homestead-Mi­ami Speed­way.

The top fin­isher among the four con­tenders will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup cham­pion. Un­der the on­er­ace elim­i­na­tion for­mat, Kevin Har­vick in 2014 and Busch in 2015 both won the fi­nale to take the ti­tle.

John­son, one of NASCAR’s greats, would stamp him­self in the record book with a record-ty­ing sev­enth cham­pi­onship. John­son would match Dale Earn­hardt and Richard Petty as the only driv­ers with seven Cup cham­pi­onships.

“I know that I’m as close to this op­por­tu­nity as I’ve ever been, but I’m not climb­ing in that car Sun­day say­ing, ‘I’ve got to win seven,”’ John­son said. “I’m say­ing, ‘I’ve got to win a cham­pi­onship.”

John­son, Busch, Logano or Ed­wards could leave Florida a cham­pion.

Tony Ste­wart is sim­ply ready to walk away.

Ste­wart, the three-time Cup cham­pion, ends of one rac­ing’s great ca­reers when he re­tires fol­low­ing an al­most two-decade NASCAR stint.

“There hasn’t been any part of my ca­reer that I didn’t en­joy,” Ste­wart said.

Here are some other items of note for Sun­day’s race:

Sprint’s exit means NASCAR will en­ter a new en­ti­tle­ment agree­ment for just the fourth time since 1971, when RJ Reynolds be­gan its 33-year spon­sor­ship of the top se­ries through its Win­ston brand. RJR pulled out af­ter the 2003 sea­son and Nex­tel stepped in un­til Sprint’s cor­po­rate merger.

“If you look at what’s go­ing on in the NFL and the view­er­ship, all the spon­sors watch that,” team owner Rick Hen­drick said. “The good news is we have not slipped as much as some of the other folks.” Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing will field Fords next sea­son, end­ing an eight-year run with Chevro­let.

“We’ve been so proud of what we’ve ac­com­plished, not to men­tion an in­cred­i­ble run with Tony Ste­wart,” said Jim Camp­bell, VP of per­for­mance ve­hi­cles and mo­tor­sports for GM.

ALAN DIAZ — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Jim­mie John­son sits in his car prior to prac­tice at Hom­stead Speed­way on Satur­day.

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