HOMESTEAD, Fla – Kyle Busch said on Thursday that if he ends his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career with just one championship, it would “suck.” Busch, said that several factors have kept him at just one title, but now that he was back into the Championship 4 for the fifth straight year, he was ready to claim his stake and become the 16th driver to win multiple championships in NASCAR’s premiere series.
While he hadn’t won a race since June 2, a 21 race drought, he was confident in his and his teams abilities. Busch didn’t think momentum meant much for the season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. As long as you were in the final four, you had a shot.
That’s all he could ask for.
In a race that he would likely have to win, he made a statement. Busch, became the sixth straight champion to win the Ford EcoBoost 400 as he not only won his 56th race of his Cup career, he also won his second championship as well.
Busch, led a race high 120 of the 267 laps, including 85 of the final 98, to beat his teammate and championship rival Martin Truex Jr. by 4.578-seconds.
This just goes to show that it doesn’t matter how the season goes, as long as you get into the final round, you have a chance. I mean, Matt Crafton won the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship on Friday night and he hasn’t won a race since 2017.
Busch, now has to enter the talks as a generational driver. His 56 wins rank ninth all time. The only drivers ahead of him?
Richard Petty (200), David Pearson (105), Jeff Gordon (93), Darrell Waltrip (84), Bobby Allison (84), Jimmie Johnson (83), Cale Yarborough (83) and Dale Earnhardt (76). He’s won 206 times in his NASCAR career across all three divisions too.
In Homestead, Busch has seven top seven finishes in his last eight tries including four top four’s in his last five tries in his No. 18 Toyota.
On Sunday, Busch was flawless while the other three drivers made mistakes.
Truex dominated the early portions of the race in leading 98 of the first 120 laps. But, his pit crew made a costly mistake in putting the tires that were designated for the right side on the left side of his car and vise versa. He’d have to pit a few laps later and fall a lap down in 13th. Luckily, he was able to get his lap back at the end of the stage and compete for the win again. He’d finish second for his third straight top two result at Homestead and six top sixes in his last nine overall.
He also had nine top seven finishes in 10 playoff starts this season.
For Kevin Harvick, his mistake came when they stayed out on their final stint too long. He went eight more laps than Truex and hit pit road on Lap 222. That cost them big time as he exited the pit sequence in 17th, one lap down. Some how, he would make up 13 positions including his lap back and finish fourth in his No. 4 Ford.
That put Harvick third in the final standings as it’s the sixth time he has finished there and third straight. Harvick, has six straight top four finishes at Homestead as well.
Denny Hamlin had the worst mistake of all. He was going to be vying for the win in the end as his car had finally started to come around. The problem was, they put too much tape on his grille on his final stop and his car started to overheat. Hamlin, would have to make an unscheduled pit stop which dashed his title hopes. He’d fall to 19th, a lap down as a result and would come back to finish 10th. It was just the second time over the final seven races that he failed to finish in the top five.
Erik Jones would finish third in his No. 20 Toyota to give JGR a 1-2-3 finish again. They started the season off with a 1-2-3 result in the Daytona 500 and end the year that way too. Busch also gave them their 19th win of the year which is a NASCAR single season record breaking a tie with Hendrick Motorsports in 2007.