MIAMI, Fla., -- Three straight races, three great finishes. Ford Championship Weekend at the new Homestead Miami Speedway came to a close on Sunday with Bobby Labonte capturing the Ford 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race and Matt Kenseth...
MIAMI, Fla., -- Three straight races, three great finishes. Ford Championship Weekend at the new Homestead Miami Speedway came to a close on Sunday with Bobby Labonte capturing the Ford 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race and Matt Kenseth celebrating his 2003 Winston Cup Series championship in front of a sell-out crowd.
Bill Elliott's cut right rear tire on the last lap of the Ford 400 opened the door for Labonte, who captured a 1.749-second victory. The victory was Labonte's 21st of his Winston Cup career and the fourth time he has won a Winston Cup season finale.
Elliott dominated the 267-lap race, leading six times for 189 laps, and appeared on his way to victory before his car started to get loose on Turns 1 and 2 on the last lap of the race.
"He came off of Turn 2 and (his car) started to get loose," Labonte said. "I was hoping he wasn't running through oil. Evidently his tire was going down and we were able to get by him. Obviously my emotions on that lap went low to high pretty quick because I didn't think I had any chance to beat him. His misfortune was our fortune.
Said a disappointing Elliott: "We had a great race car. Our Dodge ran so well today. You win them sometimes like that, although I don't know if I've ever won one like that but I've sure lost them."
Rounding out the top five were Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Johnny Benson and Jeff Gordon.
While Labonte was rejoicing in Gatorade Victory Lane, Matt Kenseth was celebrated his 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship with a Victory Lap.
Driving alongside Kenseth in a 1971 Plymouth Super Bird was Richard Petty, the first NASCAR champion under the Winston sponsorship in 1971. The Ford 400 was the last Winston-sponsored event for NASCAR's top series.
"That's beyond cool," said Kenseth about celebrating with Petty. "Richard Petty is the first Winston Cup champion and it's amazing to think we're the last Winston Cup champion. It's just a huge honor to even get to talk to the King and somebody that you idolized growing up as a stock car racer. I'm just happy to be here."
Kenseth's day was cut short after his engine expired and he finished 43rd.
The schedule for the 2004 season is set for the New Homestead-Miami Speedway. The IRL IndyCar Series, the Menards Infiniti Pro Series and the Grand American Road Racing Association will make their debut on the 20-degree, variable banking during the Toyota Indy 300 weekend, February 27-29. Ford Championship Weekend, which will once again feature the season finales for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, returns November 18-21.