Kyle Busch Wins His Second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championshipby Camille Jones November 18, 2019 0 comments
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – With a dominant performance, Kyle Busch earned his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship on Sunday after winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Busch came into the final race of the 2019 season as one of the Championship 4 contenders, battling Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship. In the final laps of Sunday’s race, the driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Toyota drove to 4.5-second lead over teammate Truex, earning his fifth win of the season and winning the championship by default.
“We have a great race team, a great owner and the best sponsors in sports,” Busch said. “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.”
The Las Vegas native’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title came in 2015, following a season of recovery when Busch suffered a severe injury in the NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Fast forward to Sunday, Busch capped off the year by leading 120 of the 267 laps in the Ford EcoBoost 400. Busch now holds two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships, on top of 56 NASCAR Cup Series victories.
Martin Truex Jr. finished second on Sunday, but it didn’t come without trouble. On lap 122, Truex pitted under green for a routine stop, but the left and right front tires were placed on the wrong sides of the car, meaning Truex was forced to return to pit road to replace the tires a second time around. Truex led 103 laps in the race while piloting the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota.
“Yeah, these things don’t come around every day,” Truex 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.”
Completing the top-10 behind Busch and Truex were Erik Jones, Harvick, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman and Hamlin.
Championship 4 contender, Harvick was unable to recover from a late pit stop to reach the dominant Busch who had gained a considerable lead over Truex in the closing laps. Harvick led 41 laps in the race behind the wheel of his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Busch Light Ford.
“Well, we just needed to do something different,” Harvick said. “Those guys, they were so much better than us on the long run. Really our best chance was to have a caution there at the end and never got one. We just did something different hoping for a caution, and that’s what you’re supposed to do in those late situations like that. Just do the opposite of the cars you’re trying to race, and it just didn’t work out.”
Hamlin entered the night hoping to claim his first series title; however, with 48 laps to go, Hamlin’s crew chief was forced to make the call to pit after Hamlin reported his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota was overheating due to the placement of a large piece of tape on the front grille. Hamlin’s car pushed out water for several laps before he came down pit road in order to avoid an engine failure. The 10th-place finisher was the last car on the lead lap and the lowest finishing competitor of the Championship 4.
“I mean, I don’t think I could have done a better job,” Hamlin said. “I don’t think I could have ‑‑ I didn’t leave anything out there. So for the first half of the race we just weren’t fast enough, we weren’t handling very good, and all of a sudden it went nighttime and we took off, and suddenly I perked up and got a little more and was thinking that we’ve got a chance. Then just didn’t work out.”
Throughout the night, there were 14 lead changes among five drivers.
Aside from the conclusions of Stages 1 and 2, the only other caution of the night came out on lap 138 for John Hunter Nemechek.
With that, the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season has come to an end. The 2020 season will kick off at Daytona International Speedway in February.
Cover Photo Credit: Ted Seminara