Kyle Busch Races To The 2019 NASCAR Cup Championship

Kyle Busch leads Kevin Harvick during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead Speedway. [Sean Gardner/Getty Images]

Kyle Busch leads Kevin Harvick during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead Speedway. [Sean Gardner/Getty Images]

By Joe Jennings
Kyle Busch raced off into the south Florida sunset to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship on Sunday at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, doing so before a sellout grandstand and a national television audience.

The championship came down to four drivers – Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Busch. Once the 34-year-old Busch took command, he held a 4.5 second margin over runner-up Truex Jr. when the checkered flag dropped on the Ford EcoBoost 400 at the competitive 1.5-mile HMS oval.

Three stages were run – 80 and 160 laps and the final one on lap 267. But the Championship 4 drivers did not accumulate stage points with the championship going to the first of them taking the checkered flag. Busch not only was first in line but he also won the race.

Driving the M&M’s Toyota Camry fielded by Joe Gibbs racing, Busch led 120 laps in winning for the fifth time in 2019 and for the 56th time in his storied career.

Said the humble winner, “We have a great race team, a great owner and the best sponsors in sports. I just can’t say enough and thank everyone enough for the opportunity. I may be the one that hoists the trophy but it wouldn’t be possible without (crew chief) Adam Stevens and Joe Gibbs and the whole Gibbs family.

“There’s always you doubters but you know what, this one is for the Rowdy nation because you guys are the best.”

Added Joe Gibbs, “It’s a thrill for us. The Lord blessed us with a great night. I spend 3 ½ hours worrying about everything as I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Bad weather on Friday forced a change in the weekend schedule when Cup practice was washed out, so NASCAR replaced Saturday’s qualifying session with a 50-minute practice session and set the starting grid according to owner championship points.

As a result, Hamlin started on the pole with Harvick alongside with row two comprised of Busch and Truex Jr. 2018 champion Joey Logano started fifth.

Truex took command at the beginning and dominated the opening 120 laps until his run was derailed by a botched pit stop wherein his crew installed left-side tires on the right side and same with the other side, forcing Truex to come back in to rectify the situation.

In doing so, he lost a lap and fell to 13th in the standings. The former champion was helped by a caution flag, one that allowed him to regain the lead lap. However, he never could catch the flying Busch, to end up second 4.5 seconds back at the checkered flag.

Erik Jones finished third in another JGR Toyota with Harvick trailing in fourth in a SHR Ford.

“I could never get our Busch Light Ford balanced. It was fast on the restarts but we didn’t get any,” Harvick said.

Logano brought his Team Penske Ford home in fifth.
The second five finishers were Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman and Hamlin.

Hamlin started out strong but his run was allowed by an overheating situation.

Daniel Hemric earned the 2019 Sunoco rookie honors while piloting a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Today’s race marked the 15th and final time the Cup championship would be decided at HMS as the season finale will transition to the newly renovated ISM Raceway in the Phoenix, AZ, suburbs a year from now.
In total, 73 NASCAR national series races have been held at HMS – 20 Cup events plus the Xfinity and Gander Outdoor Truck Series races.

The Cup series will return to HMS for its only time in 2020 on the weekend of March 21-22.

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