HOMESTEAD, Fla. Jimmie Johnson's chase of a sixth Sprint Cup title, so seemingly close to becoming reality just a week earlier, ended abruptly and prematurely on Sunday.
Johnson, the overall Cup points leader entering the previous week's race at Phoenix, ran strong but suffered a late pit-road penalty and then an early exit in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The No. 48 finished 36th, relegating Johnson to third overall -- 40 points behind champion Brad Keselowski and a point behind Clint Bowyer.
In the days approaching the Ford EcoBoost 400, Johnson was 20 points behind in second place and not shy about saying Keselowski would face much pressure on race day.
"I would have hate to come out here and do the trash-talking I did to start week, and run 25th all night long," Johnson said. "I'm proud of the fact we went out there and backed up what we said we could do. We put the pressure on him."
Keselowski began the day needing a 15th-place finish or better to secure...