2011 NASCAR Season Finale Ranks Among Sport's 10 Best Races Ever

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 20: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, drives ahead of Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2011 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be remembered as one of the greatest races in NASCAR history.

The 1959 Daytona 500.

The 1979 Daytona 500.

The 1984 Firecracker 400.

The 1992 Hooters 500.

The 1998 Daytona 500.

The 2001 Pepsi 400.

All memorable and landmark days for the sport of NASCAR.

Thanks to Tony Stewart's performance in Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, you can now add the 2011 Ford 400 to that list.

Sunday's race was not only the dramatic and exciting culmination of another thrilling season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing, but also one of the most memorable races in NASCAR history.

Going into the event, the hype surrounding the final Chase race seemed too good to be true. Edwards and Stewart were separated by only three points, Stewart was aggressive with the trash-talking and Edwards offered the calm, cool and collected approach.

When Edwards scored the pole and Stewart was forced to start 15th, the scene was set. If he wanted to win the title, Stewart would have to do so by coming through the field.

As if that wasn't enough, multiple setbacks in the early stages of the race dropped Stewart back to 40th, all while Edwards cruised along with the race lead. Using true grit, tenacity and determination, Stewart showed his maturity as a racer and remained calm under each test presented to him during Sunday's race.

Driving perhaps the race of his life, Stewart's charge through the field – not once, but twice – was impressive, amazing and historic.

Stewart passed 118 cars on his way to the front of the field. Winning the race, he won the championship and etched his name among the list of all-time NASCAR greats.

In each of those historic races listed above, a series of moments truly solidify the importance and significance of the day.

The iconic and controversial photo-finish to end the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959. The last lap wreck and post-race fight after the 1979 Daytona 500. The dramatic race to the line in 1984 with President Ronald Ragan in attendance.

The moment when Davey Allison wrecks and watches his championship hopes slip away as Alan Kulwicki and Bill Elliott settle it on the race track.

The amazing scene of crew members lined up to congratulate the most popular Daytona 500 winner in history. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip's emotional celebration in the Daytona International Speedway grass, just months after the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr.

These are moments that make up NASCAR history and go on to become legendary.

Sunday night's race in Homestead was full of these moments.

From the hole knocked in Stewart's grille early in the race, to the contact with David Reutimann just a handful of laps later, his impressive charge through the field, the wild three- and four-wide passes late in the race, and the nearly devastating final stop of the day that put Stewart in the catbird seat for the final stage of the race.

Races such as this year's season finale are few and far between in the history of NASCAR, but when they do occur, they are truly something special.

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