Never Give Up Attitude Brings Kyle Busch His Second NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Title

By Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

Kyle Busch celebrates with his Joe Gibbs Racing crew after clinching his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title with a win Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images for NASCAR)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – It was a case of winner take-all throughout NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sunday night it was Kyle Busch who claimed both the race trophy and his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season championship.

His commanding 4.578-second victory over Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones makes Busch only the second multi-time Cup champion currently in the sport. Jimmie Johnson, who did not qualify for this year’s Playoffs, has won seven Cup titles matching the all-time series championship record held by NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt.

And while Busch’s Margin of Victory would indicate a seemingly dominant day, the truth is the four title contenders – Busch, Truex, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, who finished fourth and the third JGR driver, Denny Hamlin, who finished 10th – all kept Sunday’s contest honest. Although each of the four led multiple laps, in the end it was a competition between the JGR teammates Busch and Truex for the big trophy.

Busch led the race five times for 120 laps and Truex held point four times for 103 laps. Truex won Stage 1 and Busch won Stage 2. Busch took the lead for good with 44 laps remaining and his win earned the Gibbs’ team its 19th overall victory, it’s best single season output.

For Busch, who won the regular season championship with four wins but hadn’t hoisted a trophy since early June, this was a huge affirmation of drive and talent.

“Everybody always says you never give up and we’re no different,” Busch said. “Sometimes we may not be the best, 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.

“There’s always your doubters, there’s always your haters,” Busch said smiling. “You know what, this one’s for the Rowdy Nation because you guys are the best. Thank you so much.

It was an action-packed afternoon for the championship foursome – on track and in the pits. And the pit action arguably was as decisive as the work on track.

Truex had to recover from a rare but major pit road miscue. While pitting on Lap 121, the normally Straight-A No. 19 pit crew mistakenly put the right side front tire on the left side of Truex’s Toyota and the left side tire on the right side. He had to come back in and get that corrected, ultimately going down a lap. But he was the “lucky dog” – first car a lap down – on a caution flag 17 laps later. That put him back on the lead lap and he worked his way forward from there coming up just short – the championship runner-up for the second straight season.

After climbing out of car on pit road after the race, Truex leaned back against the driver’s side window before taking questions from reporters – the frustration and disappointment obvious. 

“These things don’t come around every day,” the 2017 champion said. “Second two years in a row definitely stings a little, but the fact that we have one is still really a big deal. It’s hard to win these things.

“Congrats to Kyle and the 18 guys. It’s a huge accomplishment just to get here I feel like. Yes, sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. It just wasn’t our day.”

Pearn was equally unhappy and said he can only remember that kind of random mistake happening once before – years ago at Pocono, Pa.

“Tough to swallow,” Pearn said. “I felt like everyone did a great job and executed set-up wise and car-wise. Credit to the 18 team [Busch] they did a great job and you can’t take away anything from what they did.”

Hamlin, who started from pole position, also had a pit issue when his team decided to gamble with a large piece of tape on the front grill that instead of helping, ended up causing the car to overheat and smoke. He had to pit briefly in the waning laps to get that off. He went back on track in 19th position with 46 laps remaining and still rallied to a 10th-place finish.

NBA legend and Hamlin’s close friend Michael Jordan was on hand at Homestead to help Hamlin celebrate should he earn his first series title.

The only member of the Championship 4 without a series championship yet, Hamlin was understandably disappointed with the outcome – but he was also notably positive after the race, choosing to focus on the success this year, heartened by how close he came to the big trophy.

He won six races, including his second Daytona 500, led the championship standings at one point during the Playoffs and earned his Homestead shot with a fantastic must-win clutch victory at Phoenix a week ago.

“I told you at the beginning of the week, we’re going to celebrate our year,” Hamlin said. “Our year was fantastic in every way you can think of, and it just didn’t pan out in one race in our favor.

And, he added, “I’m excited about next year, I really am. It’s not like I’m going to go through the offseason upset or sad. I’m looking forward to having the momentum that we took through this year with a first-year crew chief and we’re going to win a lot, like a lot, next year.

“I just think that we’ll have another opportunity. There’s no question.”

Comments

  1. Another member of one of the Monster Cup royal families wins the championship so yeah for them.
    So how’d are man Ryan do? 26th. A bit of a disappointment but maybe only because my expectations were unrealistic. Was hoping he could beat his team mate but that wasn’t happening either. The good news is Preece had a couple outstanding runs at in big races. Buescher is on to bigger things, Preece has a full time job for another year in the big show and maybe gets the best equipment the team has.
    I’d rate it a success based on the Daytona and Talladega finishes alone and a bench mark to improve on for next year.

  2. Some race,got out to a 9 second lead Adam Stevens Tony Hirshman and crew did a great job.. 2 time Nascar champion Kyle Rowdy Busch

  3. Wow I’m glad I taped it these races are so boring now it’s amazing anyone would sit and watch them without a fast forward button nascar needs something or there on a slow death

  4. Already to slow death. This team BS is killing the sport. What a terrible race at a wonderful track. Good for Kyle , better then the other three guys winning it all.

  5. The format stinks. Everyone pulls over for the top 4. Leader has a 9 second lead. Snoozefest. The drivers said Phoenix was boring. Homestead was worse. A far cry from the Atlanta finishes of years gone by.

  6. At the start of the year, I had the most interest in Cup racing I have had in years. It was because Preece was running. This interest lasted maybe a month. The coverage hardly showed Preece as he was mid pack most races. If he didn’t have the in car camera every race, you would hardly hear his name. They lack the personalities of years ago. I don’t have any one to root for that has equipment good enough to contend for wins regularly. A lot of the schedule is at tracks which are too similar to each other. The only races I try to catch now are the Glenn, Daytona, Talledaga, and the half miles. Hopefully they rework the schedule, change the cars and the racing gets better. I cant imagine the ratings are good enough to justify another big TV deal and series title sponsorship package.

  7. The only exiting parts of the race, was Truex with wrong tires (wrong side) and Hamlin overheating. What else was exciting?? Its terrible. Next year, I might watch,….. no, “Will watch” Daytona, and Talladega.

  8. Gotta agree, cup racing has become a snooze fest. They keep changing the rules to tighten up the competition, never works. Cup is a battle of super teams, Gibbs, Stewart Haas, Penske and Hendricks seem to dominate, because they spend the money to circumvent the rules. The other 22-24 cars are basically field fillers. Supposedly the Gen 7 car aims to fill the gap. Have to wait and see.

  9. The more they try to establish parity, the worse it gets. As it is, they have engine rules for each race to supposedly establish the same horsepower. Clearly it doesn’t work.

  10. I began to lose interest in the Cup series when they started tinkering with the points system and added “The Chase” in an attempt to boost TV ratings, and totally lost it with this “playoff” format. Nope – I am not a fan of the winner-take-all format. Used to be that a champion was someone who could win and run well on all the different kind of tracks. At least it’s still that way with the Modifieds 🙂

    Agree with JD that Homestead races are a far cry from the season finales at the old Atlanta track before they ruined it. This year I didn’t even tune in to Homestead; the F1 race from Brazil was more interesting.

  11. Every year, the “Championship Four” seem to run 1-2-3-4 most of the day at the finale. And ever year, the winner of the championship wins the race.
    Gee, what coincidences.
    Maybe instead of NBC Gold Pass, they should just hook up with the WWE Network. 😉

  12. The Gen 7car is being designed with the future in mind. There is talk of one day cup cars being EV. When or if that happens I’ll not be watching. There is a big performance gap in cup. NASCAR should do what most pro sports have done, and put a cap on how much money each team is allowed to spend for the year (not season) this might tighten up the field. The high drag, high downforce, 550 horsepower car they ran this season was supposed to tighten up the field, but for the most part the racing was boring as hell, hope the Gen 7 car produces better racing

  13. “Major racing circuits, NASCAR and IndyCar series, will be introducing hybrid engines in 2022. The switch from an all-gasoline powered engine to a hybrid gas-electric is not only environmentally-friendly, but it will also boost performance and speed while on the race tracks”

    Well that’s interesting. How they keep the massive batteries out of harms way will be something to follow.
    All EV down the road is the chatter for sure. No that won’t fly with we old timers. On the other hand it may fly very nicely with the younger generations more interested in performance then noise and EV’s have far greater potential in that category.

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