It took 36 races to get to this moment. It took 400 miles to end a season. It was 267 laps of anxious moments, heart-pounding pit stops, and four corners to determine how the year would come to a close.
However, it all came down to one moment, one incident, and one heartbreak to determine a season.
First, the race came down to fuel mileage as the laps wound down. The dominant driver, Kyle Busch, was short due to strategy, having to pit with a few handfuls of laps remaining. That handed the battle over to the guys that made headlines one week ago due to the on-track accident and the garage brawl.
Jeff Gordon would manage to hold off Clint Bowyer for his second win of the season, his first at Homestead, and would finish a year that has seen more ups and downs than a roller coaster.
But, the man of the hour is a young man from Michigan. It seemed as if strategy would fail them when Jimmie Johnson pitted under caution, and saved enough fuel to make a run for one more stop. But, a missing lug nut held that up. Still, the chance was there...until smoke came from under the Lowe's Chevrolet.
As difficult as it was to admit, the loss of the rear gear would end the title hopes for the five-time champion. Jimmie Johnson would face reality in that his quest for six championships was over.
That meant, thanks to a 15th-place finish, that the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is Brad Keselowski. A young man who had so many run-ins with other drivers, getting the nickname "Bad Brad" has reached the top of the mountain. He gave a championship to Roger Penske, something that has eluded the great owner his entire career. He also gave a win for Dodge, who exits the sport after this race.
It was an incredible finish to an incredible season.
That also means the conclusion to the 2012 Fan Vs. Fan Victory Pool, and the time has come to crown the new champion. Here is a look at the final standings after the Ford EcoBoost 400:
Rob Tiongson (2390) Tony Stewart finished 17th (4)
Sal Sigala Jr. (2381) Clint Bowyer finished 2nd (3)
James Broomhead (2370) Greg Biffle finished 5th (3)
Kelly Crandall (2356) Martin Truex Jr. finished 6th (4)
Dustin Parks (2346) Carl Edwards finished 12th (2)
Ryan O'Hara (2338) Tony Stewart finished 17th (3)
Christopher Leone (2326) Carl Edwards finished 12th (4)
Billy Fellin (2318) Carl Edwards finished 12th (5)
Michael Hirshbein (2316) Kevin Harvick finished 8th (1)
Patti Rodisch (2314) Carl Edwards finished 12th (2)
Kara Martin (2302) Clint Bowyer finished 2nd (3)
Misan Akuya (2265) Matt Kenseth finished 18th (1)
It is only appropriate that a writer who also has the second podcast for Fan Vs. Fan is this year's champion. An incredible writer, host, and fan of the sport, Mr. Podium Finish himself, Rob Tiongson, is the 2012 Champion. He ran a strong campaign all year, and his Chase picks were among the best of anyone.
It is only fitting that he takes the 2012 title, beating second-place Sal Sigala Jr, who is Fan Vs. Fan's resident NHRA guru, by a mere nine points.
The season has come to a close, but now the anticipation can begin. Just over three months between now and the beginning of a new year, with new cars, new rules, and new expectations. Drivers will be in different cars, teams have different personnel, and things will change drastically.
For now, Rob, enjoy your title. It is very well deserved.
From the Author: I want to thank everyone for their participation in this year's pool. It was highly competitive right up to the very end.
I am honored to do this for the fans, readers, and especially for those involved.
You can bet that this will return for the 2013 season. From me and everyone at Fan Vs. Fan, thank you all, and see you in 2013.