Unbroken: Kyle Busch Completes Comeback With Sprint Cup Victory, Championship At Homestead

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Kyle Busch celebrates victory and his first Sprint Cup Series championship after Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kyle Busch celebrates victory and his first Sprint Cup Series championship after Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Finishing off one of the most remarkable comebacks in NASCAR history—indeed, in the annals of sport—Kyle Busch won Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and, with it, his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

Absent from the first 11 races of the season because of a broken right leg and left foot sustained in the NASCAR XFINITY Series opener at Daytona in February, Busch pulled away from fellow Championship Round driver Kevin Harvick after a restart with seven laps left and crossed the finish line 1.553 seconds ahead of the defending series champion.

“I don’t know if I understand life yet, but there’s something to be said about this year,” a jubilant Busch said after crossing the finish line.

Indeed. The victory was Busch’s fifth of the season, his first at Homestead and the 34th of his career. The championship was the first by a Toyota driver at NASCAR’s highest level. It was the fourth for Joe Gibbs Racing with three different drivers, with Bobby Labonte (2000) and Tony Stewart (2002, 2005) preceding Busch in that achievement.

Kyle and Kurt Busch, who won the first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2004, make up the second pair of brothers to win Sprint Cup titles, joining Terry (1984, 1996) and Bobby Labonte.

In his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon, who was seeking a fifth series crown, finished sixth behind Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson to secure third place in the series standings behind Kyle Busch and Harvick.

Martin Truex Jr., the fourth driver eligible for the title in the Championship Round of the Chase, finished 12th on Sunday.

“It’s pretty unbelievable!” Busch said. “A dream of a lifetime, a dream come true… I just can’t believe it, with everything that happened this year and all the turmoil, all the things that I went through, that my wife (Samantha) went through and the people that are around me went through.

“This championship is all for these guys, my wife, my family, everyone who has had to sacrifice so much to get me here to this place today, whether it was on my team right now, or on my teams in the past. It’s really awesome, awesome, awesome!”

Busch was running third, behind Keselowski and Larson—and roughly 10 seconds ahead of Harvick in fourth—when NASCAR called the seventh caution of the race because of debris on the frontstretch on lap 257 of 267.

After all contenders came to pit road for fresh tires, Busch restarted second beside Keselowski, who chose the inside lane, with Harvick immediately behind Busch in fourth.

Busch held his own through the first two corners, cleared Keselowski down the backstretch and began to pull away. Harvick also shot past Keselowski’s Ford on the restart lap, but the defending champ couldn’t match Busch’s pace over the last seven laps.

“On the restart, I just knew, ‘Don’t spin your tires,’” Busch said. “If you spin them a little bit, at least get them reattached – don’t matter if you lose a little bit of ground to who’s in front of you, just make sure you have a good run getting into Turn 1 and keep Harvick behind me.

“Did all of those things, got to Turn 1 side-by-side with (Brad) Keselowski and, man, I just put it on kill and held it wide open through there and was able to get by Keselowski there. And anybody that got out front, especially on new tires, they could drive away, and it felt so good to be out there at that moment.”

The restart gave Harvick one last chance to defend his crown, but the driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet couldn’t capitalize.

“I thought there at the end at the restart, we might do a little better than that,” Harvick said. “But, obviously, either the splitter was on the ground or the car was just tighter than it probably needed to be, and I just couldn’t hustle it and got it tight and got it up the racetrack and got behind.

“The 18 car (Busch), he just had the speed all night, for the most part. As the night went, I just couldn’t find anywhere that would make the car run better. The higher I would run, the looser it would get. I’d get on the seams, and then it would push the front and slide the back. Just never could find anything.”

Harvick, who won the final two races of 2014 to secure his first title, finished second for the 13th time this season. With his three victories, he finished the year with 16 top-two results.

“It’s been a great couple years, and I know we’re disappointed about finishing second tonight, but it’s kind of the theme of the year—finishing second,” Harvick said.

“Unfortunately, it’s just one short, but all in all, it’s been a great couple years, and I couldn’t be prouder of our bunch of guys.”

Note: In the final race for Michael Waltrip Racing, Clint Bowyer wrecked on Lap 45 and finished 43rd. Bowyer will driver for owner Harry Scott next season before taking over the No. 14 car at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017. David Ragan ran 27th in MWR’s swan song.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Ford EcoBoost 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway
Homestead, Florida
Sunday, November 22, 2015

1. (3) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267, $351906.
2. (13) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 267, $290375.
3. (8) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267, $232541.
4. (2) Joey Logano, Ford, 267, $184058.
5. (23) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 267, $162383.
6. (5) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 267, $153801.
7. (19) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 267, $139051.
8. (15) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 267, $111890.
9. (12) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 267, $129101.
10. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267, $109090.
11. (7) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 267, $82040.
12. (11) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 267, $107860.
13. (22) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 267, $111206.
14. (10) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 267, $117801.
15. (21) Greg Biffle, Ford, 267, $112573.
16. (4) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 267, $112315.
17. (6) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 267, $76040.
18. (26) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 267, $120415.
19. (18) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 267, $93615.
20. (20) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 266, $112048.
21. (17) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 266, $86940.
22. (16) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 266, $86590.
23. (25) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 266, $94448.
24. (35) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 266, $85990.
25. (28) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 266, $104010.
26. (33) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 265, $96498.
27. (38) David Ragan, Toyota, 265, $104254.
28. (40) Cole Whitt, Ford, 265, $88398.
29. (36) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 265, $103654.
30. (39) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 264, $77690.
31. (42) Brett Moffitt #, Ford, 264, $76990.
32. (41) David Gilliland, Ford, 264, $90312.
33. (29) Michael McDowell, Ford, 264, $72565.
34. (31) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 264, $72365.
35. (34) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 263, $72165.
36. (30) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 263, $79940.
37. (37) Matt DiBenedetto #, Toyota, 263, $71711.
38. (43) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 262, $66730.
39. (32) Josh Wise, Ford, 247, $62730.
40. (9) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 241, $78130.
41. (14) Aric Almirola, Ford, 209, $91666.
42. (27) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, Accident, 104, $58730.
43. (24) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, Accident, 45, $81388.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 131.755 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 02 Mins, 23 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.552 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 7 for 30 laps.
Lead Changes: 18 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders: 0; J. Logano 1-19; Kyle Busch 20-35; J. Gordon 36-44; K. Harvick 45-90; K. Larson 91-92; J. Logano 93-138; Kyle Busch 139; C. Edwards 140-144; J. Logano 145-151; C. Edwards 152-154; Kyle Busch 155-168; M. Truex Jr. 169-171; B. Keselowski 172-214; Kyle Busch 215-216; B. Keselowski 217-257; Kyle Busch 258; B. Keselowski 259-260; Kyle Busch 261-267.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): B. Keselowski 3 times for 86 laps; J. Logano 3 times for 72 laps; K. Harvick 1 time for 46 laps; Kyle Busch 6 times for 41 laps; J. Gordon 1 time for 9 laps; C. Edwards 2 times for 8 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 3 laps; K. Larson 1 time for 2 laps.
Top 16 in Points: Kyle Busch – 5,043; K. Harvick – 5,042; J. Gordon – 5,038; M. Truex Jr. – 5,032; C. Edwards – 2,368; J. Logano – 2,360; B. Keselowski – 2,347; Kurt Busch – 2,333; D. Hamlin – 2,327; J. Johnson – 2,315; R. Newman – 2,314; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 2,310; J. Mcmurray – 2,295; P. Menard – 2,262; M. Kenseth – 2,234; C. Bowyer – 2,175.


  1. Stupid format miss a third of the races just about and crowned as champion. Smh.

  2. I agree an insult to the history of the sport. His legacy is beating the Xfinity and truck racers with far superior equipment from a cup team which is how he was injured to start the season. Miss a third of the season and be champion is a disgrace.

  3. The Cup series is a bore. I didn’t watch a race all year.

  4. Bob Freeman says

    I’m not a fan of the elimination aspect of the chase. Frankly, not even a fan of the chase. I know the rules permitted it, but Kyle Busch being the champion after missing 11 races is just bizarre. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t get it.

  5. First off, Kyle is only known as a bully to the young drivers by haters who refuse to admit he is one of the top 5 drivers in Sprint Cup right now, and one of the greatest drivers of this generation, and are just looking for a reason to hate and disparage him. And, at least Kyle was a more worthy champion than the 78 or the 24. Truex, who won one race all year and was only competitive for about 10 out of the first 26 races, then went on to do absolutely nothing special in the chase and just capitalized on other chasers’ misfortunes to get to the final four. Then there was Gordon, who was dreadfully mediocre through the first 26, barely decent enough to get to the chase in a field of 16, never winning a single race or even getting close to a win, then winning only once in the final 10 in a race where the best five cars were taken out. Kyle at least was very competitive and won races when he came back, so he really did belong in the final four despite missing a third of the season. I guess only Harvick of the final four deserved the title more than Kyle for the way he ran all year. The system is heavily flawed and does allow for far too many flukes, but Kyle isn’t one of them. (The 31 and 11 were flukes last year, the 78 and 24 this year) But somehow I feel like if the 24 had won the title, nobody would be complaining about the system and would instead be praising it for allowing someone to have a slow start or adversity during the season but still have a chance to overcome it and win the title. But I should know by now that’s just the way 95% of the Nascar fanbase that is biased and hypocritical works. BTW, I am NOT a Kyle Busch fan, but I was not upset or disappointed to see him win. I support the greatness that is Brad K and the 2 team. On to next season and GO BRAD!

  6. Kyle is the best driver. Doesn’t change the fact that he missed 11 races. I also thinks it sucks that once you win a race you can put it on cruise control until September. That’s like saying the Patriots earned a playoff berth because they won week 1. The whole system is dumb.

  7. What a story, worthy of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama! Vince McMahon couldn’t have done better.

    Crash at the beginning of the season, miss 11 races, get a free pass, and still win the championship… A hard-luck Cinderella story soon to be a Hallmark special.

    When does short track season start again?

  8. No doubt that Kyle Busch is a very good driver. He also has outstanding cars. He will most likely have a top 5 or better if he isn’t wrecking. Staying out of trouble is as important as winning, and in order to win, one must stay out of trouble. Kyle Busch, and many other drivers, seem to think that all other cars on the track must get out of their way. And when they get raced, they play the victim card. When they wreck, they blame everyone else. Kyle Busch was handed this championship by NASCAR. Look at Jimmy Johnson… he had several bad races, on track incidents, etc. Should NASCAR wave the magic wand and put Jimmy in the final four? And NASCAR should have then automatically put Logano in the next round when Kenneth walled him. DNFs, points penalties, etc. can all take a car out of contention. Missing 11 races and then being placed back in championship contention is absurd. I hope he wins a championship again while running a full season, very soon, otherwise this championship will look more and more lame as time goes on.

  9. Don’t bash on kyle simple fact is that he was injured and was given specific requirements to become championship eligible. Dude drove his butt off won races and met all the requirements he was given. I say congrats and good for him.

    Now if you want to body slam nascar and a very flawed points system go right ahead no arguments here but kyle did a hell of a job in my opinion

  10. If any other car sat out 11 events, could they have raced their way back into contention without the special, er, “specific” requirements?

    A single DNF can be a disaster, forget missing 11 events.

  11. Bob Freeman says

    I would like to clarify that my earlier comment has nothing to do with Kyle Busch; only the rule determining chase eligibility.

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