Homestead NASCAR: Kyle Busch claims first Cup title with win

Kyle Busch claimed the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup title with victory in the Homestead decider, despite missing the season's first 11 rounds with leg injuries

Homestead NASCAR: Kyle Busch claims first Cup title with win

The dream of a farewell title for retiring series legend Jeff Gordon ended with a sixth-place finish, while reigning champion Kevin Harvick had to settle for second and Martin Truex Jr was never a factor.

The race was delayed nearly two hours by rain showers but ran uninterrupted once it began.

It soon became clear that the title fight was between Harvick's Stewart-Haas Chevrolet and Busch's Joe Gibbs Toyota, with the Penske Fords of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski also potential race winners.

Harvick began to slip ever further away from the lead pace during the second half of the race, sitting 10 seconds off the front in fourth place as Busch chased long-time leader Keselowski.

A late caution for debris sat up a seven-lap shootout, with everyone on fresh tyres.

On paper this was a blow for Busch, who seemed to have the title in his pocket before the field was closed up, but he turned it to his advantage by surging past Keselowski at the restart to take the lead.

While Harvick blasted through to second, by the time he got there Busch was already out of reach.

Busch required special dispensation to be eligble for the title, as NASCAR rules originally stated only drivers contesting the full season could feature in the Chase.

A compromise was agreed whereby Busch would be Chase eligible provided he won a race and was in the top 30 in the championship, and he emphatically achieved this with a run of four wins in five races in the summer.

He got through each Chase elimination stage via his points tally, before finally winning again when it really mattered in the finale, crossing the line 1.5 seconds clear of Harvick. It made Busch the first driver to win the Cup title in a Toyota.

Gordon briefly led with an excellent early restart that took him from third to first, but his pace soon faded and he looked set to finish his career on the fringe of the top 10 before another restart surge at the end salvaged sixth.

Underdog Truex and his Furniture Row team tried several bold strategy gambles to get into the mix, and though the tactics kept vaulting him towards the front, he ultimately lacked the speed and fell away to a distant 12th.

Keselowski and Logano had to settle for third and fourth, with Kyle Larson fifth but a potential winner had the final yellow not come out when he had passed Busch for second and started closing on Keselowski.

Matt Kenseth marked his return from suspension with seventh place ahead of Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson, who was penalised for an attempt by a crew member to deform his car's bodywork for aerodynamic benefit during a pitstop.

Polesitter Denny Hamlin lost three laps in the garage having a transmission leak attended to early in the race, yet recovered to run as high as fifth before finishing 10th.

RESULTS - 267 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 3h02m23.s
2 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 1.552s
3 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 2.784s
4 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 2.897s
5 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 3.950s
6 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 4.133s
7 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 4.365s
8 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 4.365s
9 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 5.301s
10 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 5.552s
11 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 5.872s
12 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet 6.727s
13 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 7.833s
14 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 8.218s
15 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 8.345s
16 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 15.073s
17 Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing Ford 16.251s
18 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 16.416s
19 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 18.419s
20 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
21 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
22 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
23 Ty Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
24 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
25 Sam Hornish Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 1 Lap
26 Alex Bowman Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
27 David Ragan Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 2 Laps
28 Cole Whitt Front Row Motorsports Ford 2 Laps
29 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
30 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 3 Laps
31 Brett Moffitt Front Row Motorsports Ford 3 Laps
32 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 3 Laps
33 Michael McDowell Leavine Family Racing Ford 3 Laps
34 J.J. Yeley BK Racing Toyota 3 Laps
35 Landon Cassill Hillman Smith Motorsports Chevrolet 4 Laps
36 Justin Allgaier HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 4 Laps
37 Matt DiBenedetto BK Racing Toyota 4 Laps
38 Ryan Preece Phil Parsons Racing Chevrolet 5 Laps
39 Josh Wise Go FAS Racing Ford 20 Laps
40 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 26 Laps
41 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 58 Laps
42 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet Accident
43 Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota Accident

FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Kyle Busch 5043
2 Kevin Harvick 5042
3 Jeff Gordon 5038
4 Martin Truex Jr. 5032
5 Carl Edwards 2368
6 Joey Logano 2360
7 Brad Keselowski 2347
8 Kurt Busch 2333
9 Denny Hamlin 2327
10 Jimmie Johnson 2315
11 Ryan Newman 2314
12 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2310
13 Jamie McMurray 2295
14 Paul Menard 2262
15 Matt Kenseth 2234
16 Clint Bowyer 2175
17 Aric Almirola 940
18 Kasey Kahne 939
19 Kyle Larson 872
20 Greg Biffle 869
21 Austin Dillon 832
22 A.J. Allmendinger 758
23 Casey Mears 754
24 Danica Patrick 716
25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 712
26 Sam Hornish Jr. 709
27 David Ragan 701
28 Tony Stewart 695
29 Trevor Bayne 655
30 Justin Allgaier 588
31 Cole Whitt 553
32 David Gilliland 533
33 Alex Bowman 437
34 Brett Moffitt 422
35 Matt DiBenedetto 399
36 Michael Annett 398
37 Josh Wise 254
38 Jeb Burton 216
39 Michael McDowell 213
40 Alex Kennedy 120
41 Reed Sorenson 74
42 Bobby Labonte 60
43 Michael Waltrip 58
44 Ryan Preece 35
45 Brian Vickers 32
46 Will Kimmel 11
47 Mike Wallace 8
48 T.J. Bell 7
49 Eddie MacDonald 7
50 Kyle Fowler 3
51 Ron Hornaday Jr. 2


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