Kyle Busch has won the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup series after winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 at the Homestead Miami speedway. Busch beat home fellow championship rival Kevin Harvick to take victory after starting 2nd on the final restart with just under 10 laps to go; having previously been running 3rd before the caution came out.
Busch started the year in a dramatic fashion after breaking his leg and foot in a hard crash in the Daytona XFINITY race in February. He was forced to miss the first 11 races of the Sprint Cup calendar, but was given an opportunity to qualify for the chase should he win a race and score in the top 30 in points. He bounced back to take his first win in just his 4th race back at Sonoma before going on to take three race wins in a row at Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis.
He failed to pick up a win in the final 10 chase races until the final round in Miami, but he capitalized on poor finishes for eliminated drivers such as Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and others to get into the final round to win the title in the #18 M&M’s Toyota Camry; marking the first time that a Toyota driver has won the championship.
The championship win comes 11 years after Kyle made his first start in a Sprint Cup car. He made it through to the chase 9 times before this year, with his tally of wins now reaching 34. His 2015 year would be scarcely believable in a movie, with Busch not only coming back from hospital bed to the race car, but also having had the birth of his first son on his mind just days after he got back behind the wheel. Of course, some will say that the NASCAR play-off format enabled Busch to win unfairly after having missed 11 races, but he made the best of the situation given to him to take the title.
Kevin Harvick, one of the other 3 championship contenders going into the race, finished 2nd after trying to hunt down Busch in the sprint to the finish. He was unable to catch him and will have to relinquish the championship that he won this time a year ago in the #4 Chevrolet.
Penske team-mates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano finished 3rd and 4th; with Keselowski having raced up front for a while in the #2 Ford. Kyle Larson took 5th after having looked to be within a chance of taking his first Sprint Cup victory before the final caution came out. The #42 Target Chevrolet driver ran right up on the high line next to the wall for much of the race and was making rapid gains on the leaders on old tyres; but he was unable to keep his pace on the new Goodyear rubber in the final 10 laps.
Jeff Gordon capped off his illustrious Sprint Cup career with 6th place, sadly unable to make it a fairy tale ending to his career as he leaves the sport. He led laps before the sun went down, but then the #24 team had to try and find the right car set-up as the track conditions changed as the temperature fell and the night set in.
“I’m a little disappointed, I’ll be honest,” said Gordon after the race, “I think when the sun went down we were missing a little something. I’m proud of everything. It’s a happy, good day.”
Matt Kenseth returned from a 2 race suspension to take 7th in the #20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, with Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin completing the top 10. Hamlin drove a superb race after falling back by 8 laps in the early stages before having to go back to the garage for repairs to the #11 Fed-Ex Toyota. He soon got back on the lead-lap thanks to several cautions, before driving back through to finish 10th after originally starting on pole position.
The final championship contender, Martin Truex Jr in the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, had a tough evening after struggling with setup issues from start to finish. The team even suffered a small fire on pit-row, but thankfully Truex was able to continue unharmed; albeit unable to challenge his rivals for the championship.
Other key moments during the race included a hard wreck in the early stages involving Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Dale Earnhardt Jr. All 3 finished outside of the top 30; with Bowyer sad to end his time with Michael Waltrip Racing on such a sad note. Similarly, Danica Patrick ended her long-term partnership with sponsor GoDaddy in a disappointing 24th place.
2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup series top 20 standings:
|1||#18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||5043|
|2||#4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart Haas Racing||Chevrolet||5042|
|3||#24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||5038|
|4||#78||Martin Truex Jr||Furniture Row Racing||Chevrolet||5032|
|5||#19||Carl Edwards||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyoyta||2368|
|6||#22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||2360|
|7||#2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||2347|
|8||#41||Kurt Busch||Stewart Haas Racing||Chevrolet||2333|
|9||#11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||2327|
|10||#48||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||2315|
|11||#31||Ryan Newman||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||2314|
|12||#88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||2310|
|13||#1||Jamie McMurray||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||2295|
|14||#27||Paul Menard||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||2262|
|15||#20||Matt Kenseth||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||2234|
|16||#15||Clint Bowyer||Michael Waltrip Racing||Toyota||2175|
|17||#43||Aric Almirola||Richard Petty Motorsports||Ford||940|
|18||#5||Kasey Kahne||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||939|
|19||#42||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||872|
|20||#16||Greg Biffle||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||869|
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