Busch holds off Truex Jr. to win race and NASCAR title

Kyle Busch wins his second Cup Series title
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Everything just went Kyle Busch’s way on Sunday.

After battling for the lead with his teammate on the opening laps of the final segment of the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Busch drove away from the field.

He would race unchallenged to the win and his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship.

"Everybody always says you never give up and we’re no different and we just do what we can do each and every week and sometimes we may not be the best and sometimes we may not have the right track position," said Busch. "Today we had a really good car and I could race around and move around. That’s what’s so special about Homestead-Miami Speedway – is the ability to put on a show. Kind of like we did there racing those guys. It was exciting from my seat. It was a lot of fun to cap off such an amazing year."

The victory came after going winless in NASCAR Cup competition since June 14 at Pocono Raceway. On Sunday, Busch beat out teammate and fellow Championship contender Martin Truex, Jr. by over four and a half seconds in the end for his fifth win of the season, and the 56th of his series career.

"We have a great race team, a great owner and the best sponsors in sports," said Busch. "I just can’t say enough and thank everyone enough for this opportunity. I may be the one that’s able to hoist the trophy, or to have a championship, but it wouldn’t be possible without Adam Stevens (crew chief) and Joe Gibbs, J.D. Gibbs, Coy Gibbs and the whole family. M&M’s of course and Interstate Batteries and Norm Miller. And, Toyota – this TRD engine was awesome tonight. It’s been awesome all year. We had one issue, but man it’s so much fun to work with these guys and this group. Everybody that puts it all together for me.

"There’s always your doubters. There’s always your haters, but you know what, this one is for Rowdy nation because you guys are the best. Thank you so much."

Kyle Busch takes the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

While it’s Busch’s second title, it’s the fifth series championship for Joe Gibbs Racing, who bookends the season after winning the Daytona 500 in February with Denny Hamlin.

"It’s a thrill for us. The Lord blessed us with a great night," said team owner Joe Gibbs. "I spent three and a half hours worrying about everything. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I want to thank Mitch, Monster and Toyota. Norm Miller got us started over here. Coy (Gibbs) a big part of our family – our whole family is here. Thank you to everybody for being a part of this. It’s a thrill for me and to all of our fans, thank you to each and every one of you guys. We appreciate it so much."

The title also came in a year when the team remembered Joe Gibbs’ son, J.D., who passed away in January.

"I know it’s been a difficult time on Melissa and Joe and to reward him with a championship – I don’t know how much it means to them, but it’s the best I can do," Busch said. "I know J.D. was looking down on us all year long. Damn, what a season Joe Gibbs Racing put together. For as awesome as our group is and everybody back at the shop and how awesome they are at building some really, really special race cars we put it on them this time."

"I just want to say that J.D. spent his entire professional life building our race team and this whole year I think is just a tribute to him," said Joe Gibbs. "Everybody that saw the Daytona 500 and everything that’s happened this year would have to think the Lord had his hand on what has taken place. I believe J.D. had a great view of it."

Martin Truex, Jr. finished runner-up in the championship battle for the second straight year
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Truex, Jr., who had the fastest car early, won the first segment of the race. But a miscue on a green flag pit stop left him with left side tires on the right side of his No. 19 Toyota. An extra pit stop left him a lap down, but got the free pass when the only on-track caution of the night flew for a spin by John Hunter Nemechek on lap 137.

Truex, Jr. drove his way back to second, but could never close on the leader.

"When things like that happen all you can do is do your best. Just try to forget about it and make it up," said Truex, Jr. "We got most of the way back there, just not quite all of the way. It’s unfortunate. I thought we were going to be okay and then the start of the third stage I had to restart third and I wish I would’ve let Denny (Hamlin) beat me off of the pit road restart and restart fourth. I felt like if we could’ve got by him there we would’ve had a shot at it."

Championship contender Kevin Harvick led early, but seemed to trail the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers on power. After staying out late on the final pit stop cycle in hopes of getting a caution, Harvick drove his way back to fourth by the end of the night.

"My car didn't drive very well and it looked like mine drove a lot better than most of them," Harvick said. "You didn't see very many tire marks against the wall or anything like that. Just no cautions and nothing happening. When that happens, you just get spread out."

The fourth Championship contender, Denny Hamlin, battled with handling issues early in the race, but found some speed during the final segment and seemed to be poised to battle for the win. But he had to pit late with an overheating engine to remove tape. He would rally back to a 10th place finish by the end of the night.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] "We put too much tape on," Hamlin said. "Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) is really aggressive with his calls and he tried to add some tape there and it just overheated. All of my gauges were pegged and they peg it up a really high number so we weren’t going to make it. But, I’ve got to say thank you to TRD for that thing staying together. That is unbelievable."

Meanwhile, Daniel Hemric scored the Rookie of the Year honors with a 12th place finish. That comes on the heels of the recent announcement that he will be out of the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevy next year as the team brings NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick to the Cup Series.

Hemric will move back to the NXS ranks next year as a driver for Jr. Motorsports.

"Yeah, it's pretty special to say the least," Hemric said. "I wish we were able to win Rookie of the Year and have a couple more solid finishes throughout the year than what we had, but about five or six years ago, myself and Ryan Preece somehow ended up tied with four or five races to go, so we knew we had to buckle down. And really proud of this group for doing that."

A pair of veteran drivers hung up their helmets on full-time competition after this race. Paul Menard, winner of the 2011 Brickyard 400, finished in 17th. Unadilla, Georgia’s David Ragan, winner at Daytona in July of 2011 and at Talladega in May of 2013, finished in 27th.

Erik Jones finished in third on the night, with Harvick fourth and Joey Logano in fifth.

Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman and Hamlin rounded out the top ten.

Quotes

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

How sweet is this moment for you?

"We have a great race team, a great owner and the best sponsors in sports. I just can’t say enough and thank everyone enough for this opportunity. I may be the one that’s able to hoist the trophy, or to have a championship, but it wouldn’t be possible without Adam Stevens (crew chief) and Joe Gibbs, J.D. Gibbs, Coy Gibbs and the whole family. M&M’s of course and Interstate Batteries and Norm Miller. And, Toyota – this TRD engine was awesome tonight. It’s been awesome all year. We had one issue, but man it’s so much fun to work with these guys and this group. Everybody that puts it all together for me. There’s always your doubters. There’s always your haters, but you know what, this one is for Rowdy nation because you guys are the best. Thank you so much."

What does this mean to the Gibbs family after the passing of J.D. earlier this year?

"I know it’s been a difficult time on Melissa and Joe (Gibbs) and to reward him with a championship — I don’t know how much it means to them, but it’s the best I can do. I know J.D. (Gibbs) was looking down on us all year long. Damn, what a season Joe Gibbs Racing put together. For as awesome as our group is and everybody back at the shop and how awesome they are at building some really, really special race cars we put it on them this time."

Did you soak this celebration in a little bit more the second time around?

"The last time I did a burnout, first it messed up the flag and everything. So, I wanted to get a good shot with the flag everywhere and make sure everybody could get a good shot of the flag, because we’re the 2019 champions."

What kind of statement was tonight’s performance from the 18 team?

"Everybody always says you never give up and we’re no different and we just do what we can do each and every week and sometimes we may not be the best and sometimes we may not have the right track position. Today we had a really good car and I could race around and move around. That’s what’s so special about Homestead-Miami Speedway – is the ability to put on a show. Kind of like we did there racing those guys. It was exciting from my seat. It was a lot of fun to cap off such an amazing year."

How does it feel to get your second championship?

"Right now, it’s all good but I’ll let you know in a couple weeks when it soaks in maybe. Obviously, I had tears in my eyes because this is just such an awesome moment. To share it with my family, with the Gibbs family and with the love and support of all of my sponsors, it’s a dream come true."

What made the difference with your Camry during the second half of the race?

"Adam Stevens (crew chief). Just communicating with him and talking with him and being able to get the right adjustments on the race car to be able to get it to where we needed it. Then, when the lights came on, our car came to life. I think the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) was really fast too. If it would’ve been a straight up race I don’t know there at the end. But, man, he (Truex) restarted fourth on that restart and we drove away so I don’t know. I think we earned this one."

JOE GIBBS, team owner, Joe Gibbs Racing

What are your thoughts on winning a fifth Cup Series championship?

"It’s a thrill for us. The Lord blessed us with a great night. I spent three and a half hours worrying about everything. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I want to thank Mitch, Monster and Toyota. Norm Miller got us started over here. Coy (Gibbs) a big part of our family – our whole family is here. Thank you to everybody for being a part of this. It’s a thrill for me and to all of our fans, thank you to each and every one of you guys. We appreciate it so much."

What does this championship mean and did it feel like J.D. was smiling down at you?

"I just want to say that J.D. (Gibbs) spent his entire professional life building our race team and this whole year I think is just a tribute to him. Everybody that saw the Daytona 500 and everything that’s happened this year would have to think the Lord had his hand on what has taken place. I believe J.D. had a great view of it. Everybody go to JDGibbsLegacy.com. Appreciate everybody. This whole year we’re celebrating his life."

ADAM STEVENS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How do you explain the emotion of a moment like this after a year of such hard work?

"You’ve got to keep it in perspective, man. The goal from the time we left Homestead last year was to win it this year and that’s all we’ve tried to do and keep that in mind. I wish we had another dozen races to go with it, but we got the big trophy."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 2nd

How did you refocus yourself after the mistake on pit road?

"When things like that happen all you can do is do your best. Just try to forget about it and make it up. We got most of the way back there, just not quite all of the way. It’s unfortunate. I thought we were going to be okay and then the start of the third stage I had to restart third and I wish I would’ve let Denny (Hamlin) beat me off of the pit road restart and restart fourth. I felt like if we could’ve got by him there we would’ve had a shot at it. I just got blitzed on the outside by a few guys there on the restart with the 20 (Erik Jones) and the 22 (Joey Logano) and those guys. I had to race them so hard it hurt my right-front tire and then that whole run I just faded and got tight and lost all of my track position. At the end, we were way faster but just too much ground to make up. Unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes. We tried hard, we had a hell of a season and congrats to the 18 bunch."

Do you feel this season is a success?

"Yeah, to get here is so difficult. To win seven races is so difficult so, yeah successful but at the same time dissapointing."

ERIK JONES, No. 20 DeWalt Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

FInishing Position: 3rd

How was your race tonight?

"It was up and down for us. It really started pretty far off and just got our car really good by the end. I was feeling pretty confident the last stage. We were able to pick up a lot of ground and had the fastest car for a little bit, but got in the wall one too many times and didn’t have a shot at the end. It was a good day. Those guys are the best – the 18 (Kyle Busch) and the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.), so to run with them was a good feeling. The DeWalt Camry was good at the end. It was nice to finish off the year strong because the last two here haven’t been very good to us, so it was good."

Race Results

POS CAR DRIVER MANUF LAPS BEHIND
1 18 Kyle Busch (P) Toyota 267 0.000s
2 19 Martin Truex Jr. (P) Toyota 267 4.578
3 20 Erik Jones Toyota 267 11.739
4 4 Kevin Harvick (P) Ford 267 14.100
5 22 Joey Logano Ford 267 21.915
6 14 Clint Bowyer Ford 267 24.307
7 6 Ryan Newman Ford 267 27.217
8 3 Austin Dillon Chevy 267 28.781
9 88 Alex Bowman Chevy 267 30.296
10 11 Denny Hamlin (P) Toyota 267 30.520
11 12 Ryan Blaney Ford 266 -1
12 8 Daniel Hemric # Chevy 266 -1
13 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy 266 -1
14 41 Daniel Suarez Ford 266 -1
15 9 Chase Elliott Chevy 266 -1
16 37 Chris Buescher Chevy 266 -1
17 21 Paul Menard Ford 266 -1
18 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 265 -2
19 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 265 -2
20 95 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota 265 -2
21 1 Kurt Busch Chevy 265 -2
22 10 Aric Almirola Ford 264 -3
23 36 John Hunter Nemechek(i) Ford 264 -3
24 13 Ty Dillon Chevy 263 -4
25 47 Ryan Preece # Chevy 263 -4
26 34 Michael McDowell Ford 263 -4
27 38 David Ragan Ford 263 -4
28 00 Landon Cassill(i) Chevy 262 -5
29 96 * Drew Herring Toyota 262 -5
30 51 JJ Yeley(i) Ford 262 -5
31 32 Corey LaJoie Ford 261 -6
32 53 * BJ McLeod(i) Chevy 256 -11
33 66 * Timmy Hill(i) Toyota 248 -19
34 43 Bubba Wallace Chevy 243 -24
35 27 * Ross Chastain(i) Chevy 242 -25
36 52 Josh Bilicki(i) Ford 240 -27
37 77 Reed Sorenson Chevy 236 -31
38 15 Joe Nemechek(i) Chevy 227 -40
39 24 William Byron Chevy 215 -52
40 42 Kyle Larson Chevy 209 -58

P=Championship Driver
# DENOTES ROOKIE
(I) NOT ELIGIBLE FOR POINTS
(*) REQUIRED TO QUALIFY ON TIME

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