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Kyle Busch Wins NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship

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.

Daniel Suárez Wins NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award

In what has already been an impressive first full season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Daniel Suárez added another accolade to his resume Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway – the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. In doing so, he became the first Mexican-born driver and the second NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D) graduate to receive the award in a NASCAR national series.

“Congratulations to Daniel and his Joe Gibbs Racing team for this great achievement,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president, racing operations. “Watching Daniel and Darrell Wallace Jr. battle throughout the season, two hard-nosed competitors, really speaks to their talent and I look forward to seeing them compete in NASCAR for years to come.”

Also a member of the 2011-2013 NASCAR Next classes, an initiative designed to identify the sport’s next generation of stars, Suárez captured the rookie honors over fellow NASCAR Next and D4D graduate Darrell Wallace Jr. The Monterrey, Mexico native made 33 starts in 2015, posting three Coors Light Pole Awards, eight top-five and 18 top-10 finishes.

“The Sunoco Rookie of the Year program has rewarded drivers for their dedication and competitive drive for more than a decade,” said Drew Kabakoff, Director Brand Marketing, Sunoco. “Daniel has shown both of those qualities and more in his NASCAR XFINITY Series rookie season and is laying the groundwork for an exciting career.”

Suárez will be officially crowned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year winner on Monday, Nov. 23 at the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards at the Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Florida.

Mars Extends Winning Partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing

On the cusp of his first potential NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship which would cap an amazing comeback season, Kyle Busch and his team at Joe Gibbs Racing have even more reason to celebrate. Today, Mars, Inc. finalized a multi-year contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) that will continue the winning alliance for the next several seasons.

The new agreement with JGR cements one of the longest-standing and most successful partnerships not only in NASCAR, but in all of sports. Kyle Busch has piloted the No. 18 Toyota and dozens of Mars, Inc.’s iconic brands including M&M’S® Brand, SNICKERS® Brand, SKITTLES® Brand, DOUBLE MINT® Brand and PEDIGREE® Brand to victory lane 29 times since 2008, as well as 15 poles and 142 top ten finishes.

“In order to get to victory lane, you have to have the best team on and off the track,” said William Clements, Vice President, Sponsorships, Mars. “Our partnership with JGR and Kyle has routinely delivered for us at the track, as well as in-store and with millions of fans. We look forward to the opportunity to continue to build upon this amazing partnership.”

“When working with a partner, collaboration, teamwork and a burning desire to win inspires us as a team, and Mars is the epitome of those qualities,” added Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “Their brands have been a big part of our sport and team for a long time and we’re honored to carry them on the No. 18 for the foreseeable future.”

“Representing Mars, Inc’s family of brands on the No. 18 since 2008 has been an honor, and knowing they are committed to JGR for the next several seasons is awesome,” said Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota. “Their support for me, my family and everyone at JGR has been incredible and this energizes me to work even harder for them and the team.”
To learn more about M&M’S® Racing, visit them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MMSRacing.

Race Report: Phoenix International Raceway

The one thing you can count on when NASCAR comes to Phoenix is usually dry warm weather. But that simply was not the case for today’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500k.

After a six-and-a-half hour rain delay to start the race, it was shortened by nearly 100 laps when rained returned to soak the one-mile track. When NASCAR made the race official it was Kyle Busch leading Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish, while Denny Hamlin was eighth, Carl Edwards 12th and Erik Jones 19th.

This was the final race of the Eliminator Round of 8 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. Kyle Busch’s fourth-place finish locked in his position for the final four, which will now race for the Championship in Miami next Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately Carl Edwards didn’t get the opportunity to complete today’s race due to the rain and his 12th-place finish left him just five points out of the final transfer spot. Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex, Jr. will join Busch in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Sunday to compete for title.

Kyle Busch qualified the No. 18 M&M’S Crispy Toyota in the 10th position and showed speed from the outset once the race finally began following a long rain delay that turned this day race into a battle under the lights. Busch was up to seventh before a competition caution on lap 40 brought the field down pit road. He would line up fifth for the ensuing restart and gain a spot into fourth by lap 100. Busch would bring the No. 18 Camry a bit too close to the wall on his next stop on pit road causing a slower than normal stop and dropping him back to run eighth on lap 130. He would recover to run seventh at the halfway mark. Busch brought his M&Ms Crispy Toyota back down pit road once again on lap 197 when a caution came out during the stop. Because he was already on pit road he was able to complete the stop lined up fourth. However the race would never resume. It was a lengthy cleanup for the accident that brought out the caution and just when it appeared the field was set to go green the rain returned. A heavy downpour would force NASCAR to call the race after just 219 of the scheduled 312 laps. Busch was officially scored in fourth place and secured his spot in next Sunday’s Championship Four in Miami.

Unfortunately the rain shortened race didn’t work in the favor of Carl Edwards and the No. 19 STANLEY team. Edwards qualified in the fourth position and was running fifth at the competition caution on lap 40. A great stop by the STANLEY crew would allow him to restart third. Edwards would remain in the top five throughout the night and was running fourth following a round of green flag stops near the halfway point. A caution on lap 197 would catch the 19 team a lap down because they had already pitted under the green flag. Edwards would receive the lucky dog to return to the lead lap in 12th prior to the restart. However the restart would never come. The caution for the accident would last over 20 laps and the rain returned before the race could restart. Edwards would be scored in 12th and was unable to earn the finish needed to advance into the final four.

Erik Jones, who filled in for Matt Kenseth again this weekend at Phoenix, qualified the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the seventh position and was running 10th at the competition caution on lap 40. He would battle loose handling conditions while running 13th at the halfway point. He would go a lap down during a long green flag run on lap 182 and would come down pit road following a lap 197 caution. He was set to restart 19th when the rain returned ending the race at lap 219.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota in 13th and was running 12th at the competition caution on lap 40. The FedEx pit crew would put him out 10th for the ensuing restart. Hamlin was up to eighth at lap 100. He remained in the top ten when a caution came out for an accident on lap 197. He would continue to run eighth following a round of pit stops, but the race would never restart when heavy rains returned to the track. Hamlin would be scored in eighth.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. captured the win, followed by Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five. There were two cautions for a total of 29 laps and eight lead changes among seven different drivers.

Kyle Busch will race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship in the season finale next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. NBC will broadcast the race live with coverage starting at 2 PM (race begins at 3 PM ET).