Kyle Busch completed one of the most amazing comebacks in all of sports, recovering from injuries suffered on the eve of the Daytona 500 this past February to earn his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship with a win in today’s 400-mile race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In fact, it was a night of firsts for Busch, Toyota and M&M’S.
It is Busch’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship and in the process also provides Toyota and M&M’S their first respective championships in the sport’s premiere race series.
For Joe Gibbs Racing it was the organization’s fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship and first since 2005. In addition, Interstate Batteries, the founding sponsor for JGR and primary sponsor on the No. 18 Camry for six races this year, captured its second championship, after winning it all with JGR and driver Bobby LaBonte in 2000.
It was an incredible season across all of JGR with all four teams earning a spot in the Chase and combining for an incredible 14 wins as well as victories in both the preseason Shootout in Daytona and the Sprint All-Star race in Charlotte.
Busch qualified the No. 18 M&M’S Crispy Toyota in the third position and quickly established that he had the car necessary to run at the front of the field all afternoon. He would go to the lead for the first time on lap 20 and remained in the top five the remainder of the evening. While running at or near the front of the field all race Busch managed to keep his competitors for the championship in his rear view mirror. He would run second at lap 100 and continued to hold that position at lap 200. A late caution for debris on lap 257 would bring the leaders down pit road a final time, and as they have all season the M&M’S pit crew delivered, allowing Busch to restart second with seven laps remaining. Busch would restart on the outside and quickly moved around the 2 car for the lead. From there he managed to pull away from the 4 car and earn his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. It was not only Busch’s first championship, but also the first championship for rookie crew chief Adam Stevens. It was an incredible season and despite missing 11 races because of the injuries he would return to not only win a race, but to win five, and earn a spot in the top thirty of points required to secure a spot in the Chase.
Matt Kenseth qualified the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the 19th position but wasted little time in making his way into the top ten. Kenseth was 15th before the first caution of the day on lap 14 and by the time NASCAR displayed a competition caution lap 30 he was up to seventh. He would battle the remainder of the afternoon inside the top ten before a final caution on lap 257. Kenseth would restart ninth and managed to gain two spots to take the checkered flag in seventh. It was another fantastic season for Kenseth who won five races over the course of 2015.
Denny Hamlin qualified the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota on the pole and was quick through the early going as he ran second. Smoke would come from the back of the No. 11 early on and Hamlin was forced to come down pit road for repairs. The team would repair a broken line that caused the issue and he would return to the track three laps down. However the FedEx team continued to fight and their perseverance paid off as they worked their way back to the lead lap. A series of cautions worked to their advantage and with the use of a wave around the two lucky dog designations, Hamlin was back on the lead lap by lap 47. From there he would drive his way back into the top ten and ultimately earn a 10th-place finish. He would finish the season with two wins and ninth overall in the point standings.
Carl Edwards started the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota in the seventh position and showed early speed as he drove his way into second by lap 20. Edwards remained in the top five through the halfway mark of the race before a caution that immediately followed a round of green flag pit stops. The ARRIS team would elect not to pit and Edwards would restart from the lead when many of the other leaders came down pit road for fresh tires. The older tires proved to be a big disadvantage however, and Edwards would fall out of the top ten by lap 160. He would fight to get back into the top ten the remainder of the evening before finishing 11th. He would finish his first season with JGR with two wins and fifth in overall points.
The win was Busch’s fifth of the season. He was followed tonight by Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson, who rounded out the top five. There were seven cautions for a total of 30 laps and 18 lead changes among eight different drivers.
The 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be celebrated with the annual NASCAR awards banquet to be held in Las Vegas, NV on Friday, December 4 with live television coverage on NBCSN. The 2016 NASCAR season will begin once again with the running of the Great American Race from Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, February 21.
We thank all of our partners and fans for their tremendous support throughout the 2015 season and look forward to the start of a new season in just a few months.