HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Tony Stewart has been called a lot of things in his racing career, ranging from laudatory to unprintable.
Stewart comes into Sunday's season-ending Ford 400 race not just in pursuit of his third career Sprint Cup championship, but also to become one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to be referred to as a "bookend."
If Stewart finishes ahead of chief challenger Carl Edwards in Sunday's outcome, the Indiana native will hold the distinction of not only being the man who finally snapped Jimmie Johnson's five-year championship streak, but also become only the second driver in the sport's annals to win titles both before and after a multi-year champion.
Of all the consecutive multi-season champions (two or three titles in a row), only one other driver has won both the title before and after any of those respective streaks.
When Cale Yarborough won three straight Cup titles from 1976 through 1978, the legendary Richard Petty was the man who won both the title before Yarborough's first and last titles in 1975 and 1979.
"You wouldn't think you'd take a lot of pride in being the bookends of a dynasty," Stewart said. "But it is a pretty cool position to be in, to know that there's two guys in the last six years that have won championships, and we're one of them. It would be nice to be the guy that gets on the other side of that obviously.
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