HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Jimmie Johnson took another step toward NASCAR immortality Sunday, clinching his sixth Sprint Cup championship by overcoming adversity with a workmanlike performance at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Johnson finished ninth, seven spots behind Matt Kenseth but 19 points ahead of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup standings.
Kenseth, who started from the pole position, finished runner-up in the points and the season finale, which was won by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third in the Ford Ecoboost 400, followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer.
Johnson survived a scare on a Lap 194 restart after teammate Jeff Gordon appeared to have trouble getting up to speed in second, stacking up several cars behind him. For the second consecutive race, Johnson swiftly was forced into evasive maneuvers in traffic, and he made contact with title contender Kenseth while jerking the wheel of his No. 48 Chevrolet back and forth.
The contact damaged Johnson's left front fender and dropped him 15 spots from eighth to 23rd – the minimum finish he needed to clinch the championship if Kenseth had won the race.
Johnson got another scare seven laps later when Greg Biffle battled him hard for 15th. It seemed to be a leftover from a scrape between Biffle and Johnson at Martinsville Speedway a few weeks earlier in which Biffle was unhappy about being bumped.
Johnson caught a break with a caution five laps later that allowed his team to assess and fix the damage. He steadily solidered into the top 10 after restarting 17th with 56 laps remaining.