Home / Cup Series / Kyle Busch Cruises To Ford EcoBoost 400 Victory, 2nd NASCAR Cup Title
(Photo: Christian Koelle)

Kyle Busch Cruises To Ford EcoBoost 400 Victory, 2nd NASCAR Cup Title

Kyle Busch is a NASCAR champion once again. For the second time in five years, Busch won the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and with it the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title. A 21-race winless streak left Busch a bit of an underdog heading in, but a consistent, mistake-free performance led to a 4.5-second victory Sunday (Nov. 17) that put those critics to rest.

“There’s always your doubters,” Busch said in victory lane. “There’s always your haters. But this one is for Rowdy Nation. You guys are the best.

“What a season Joe Gibbs Racing put together. We put it on them this time.”

Busch led a race-high 120 of 267 laps in a clean race that had only three caution flags. The last stage went green the entire way, and the No. 18 team was able to get out front and pull away on the final restart.

He was helped by his JGR teammates stumbling down on pit road. Martin Truex Jr., his strongest challenger, had his pit crew make the inexplicable error of putting the left-side tires on the right side (and vice versa). It forced an unscheduled pit stop in stage two, briefly trapping him down a lap and costing him track position the 2017 Cup Series champion would never recover.

“No,” Truex said when asked if he’d had the tires switched before on any level. “It doesn’t drive good with the left front on the right front, I’ll tell you that.”

A caution for John Hunter Nemechek’s spin gave Truex new life; he worked his way to fourth by the end of stage two. But an awkward final restart left him trapped in traffic, which ultimately gave Busch the cushion needed to pull away.

“I thought we were going to be OK,” Truex said. “I got blitzed by a few guys out there on the restart. I got blitzed on the outside by the [No.] 20 and the [No.] 22, a couple of those guys. I had to run the crap out of my right front to get back by them.

“It took me forever to get by a few cars. I lost a bunch of ground on that run, getting tight in traffic and I was just too far back. If I could have been up front, controlled the race, I could have drove away from them.”

Truex and Crew Chief Cole Pearn tried pitting later during the final green-flag stop, hoping fresher tires late would let them close the gap. But a 10-second deficit to start proved too much to overcome.

Denny Hamlin, meanwhile, saw his championship bid go up in smoke over a piece of tape. Placed on his grill wrong during a green-flag stop, his No. 11 Toyota quickly overheated, and an unscheduled stop to fix it ruined his chance.

“I feel like I did all I could,” Hamlin said after winding up in 10th place. “I don’t think I could have done a better job. I didn’t leave anything out there. For the first half of the race, we just weren’t handling very good. It went to nighttime, and we took off. I was thinking, ‘we got a chance’ and it just didn’t work out.”

But JGR still came home with a 1-2-3 finish; Erik Jones snuck through as the best of the non-championship contenders. Kevin Harvick came right behind him in fourth after a strategy of staying out longer on old tires didn’t work down the stretch.

“On the restarts, I could do what I wanted to do and I could hold them off for 15, 20 laps right there,” Harvick said, claiming his team was positioning for a late yellow flag. “You know, this race has come down to [a late caution] every year. They were quite a bit better than us on the long run. Never got to race for it there.”

The official margin of victory for Busch was 4.5 seconds over Truex. Just 10 cars finished on the lead lap as Busch pulled away with ease during that caution-free final stage.

“No cautions and nothing happened,” Harvick added. “When that happens, you get spread out.”

But Busch and his fans won’t be complaining. It’s sweet redemption for the No. 18 team after an inconsistent playoff performance had many counting them out of this weekend’s title race.

“We have a great race team and a great owner,” Busch said. “Everybody always says you never give up. We’re no different. Sometimes, we may not be the best. Sometimes, we may not have the right track position. I know it kind of dulled out in the end, but it was exciting enough from my seat.”

The win was JGR’s 19th of the season, the most for any organization in the modern era. Each of their four drivers won at least once in a year where they overcame tragedy; Team President J.D. Gibbs died in January at age 49.

2018 MENCS champion Joey Logano rounded out the top-five finishers. Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman and Hamlin finished off the top 10.

FORD ECOBOOST 400 UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

Further back, Daniel Hemric was 12th, good enough to win the 2019 MENCS Rookie of the Year award over Ryan Preece.

“A lot of really important people in our sport have been able to take these honors home,” Hemric said afterwards. “So I’m going to take pride in it and look forward to the next chapter.”

Hemric will move back to the NASCAR Xfinity Series next year, driving for JR Motorsports.

FINAL 2019 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES STANDINGS

Paul Menard was 17th and David Ragan 27th in their final full-time races in the Cup Series. There were no major accidents but two top Chevrolet drivers, William Byron and Kyle Larson, failed to finish with blown engines.

NASCAR CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND CENTRAL

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About Tom Bowles

Tom Bowles
The author of Bowles-Eye View (Mondays) and Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 30 staff members as its majority owner. Based in Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild.

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11 comments

  1. Avatar

    Couple of notes:
    Martin complaining about racing the 22 (&20) stating that he was the faster car but racing them killed his right front. So let us revisit 2017 – Kyle had the fastest car, had to race the 20 for several laps and burnt his right front off and also complained. Look I get it, you are racing for a championship but those guys are out there racing for their teams and sponsors too so I can’t expect them to get out the way like Kyle Larson does.

    Kyle Larson moved up to what 3rd there? Then once Harvick and Truex were both behind him it looked like he just pulled over to the inside and let them go by. Larson later passed Harvick as he looked like he was driving on oil most the night.

    Wow no caution to bunch the race up and make fans talk about how amazing the racing was cause they only remember the last 20 laps (or do they only tune in for the last 20?) either way, it was nice to see multiple grooves and tires play a role for one of the few times this season.

    1 more season with this package. It has been nice to read a few articles on Frontstretch that have summed up and share my opinion of this season. Very curious what NASCAR will do for short tracks….errr….1mile or less tracks lol. What if they just simply removed the entire spoiler, would make for very slick cars, increased tire wear, hard to drive, short track racing. Well that is of course if those are bolted on, I have no clue how they are assembled on there but I would assume a good portion of it is tied down with fasteners so just remove that part haha. What they got to lose? Can’t be any worse than this years short track product right

    • Avatar

      Hey! I thought you vowed to not watch after the regular season. : )

      • Avatar

        I know! But Football and Michigan sports in general are so awful this year. Also the snow came early so my yard work has been postponed. I tuned in with 8 to go in Stage 2 🙂

  2. Avatar

    Watched it and cared. I KNOW it wasn’t a snoozer. Really glad Kyle won it all. For sure was rolling on the floor laughing when they put wrong side tires on Marties car. NASCAR gave him a caution but Kyle got the trophy Marty whiner. NBC was obviously rooting for Hamlin, too bad guys.. Never get against Kyle, the best driver in NASCAR today.

    • Avatar

      Sounds like the only reason it wasn’t a snoozer to you was because your driver won. Overall it was a snoozer and there is a lot wrong with the whole deal. The VERY questionable caution, the way that all the non-contenders seem to let the contenders by easily, but with that said, no one can say that Kyle Busch wasn’t a deserving champ (fact is any one of them would have resulted in a legitimate champ because they all had good years).

  3. Avatar

    Didn’t watch it. Didn’t care. I heard it was a snoozer. First time in awhile I haven’t even checked in on a race. This from a long time fan.

    • Avatar

      Ditto here Midasmicah. I read another article where Steve Phelps was quoted as saying, “ NASCAR has already seen improvement in the quality of the racing product this season – particularly at intermediate tracks and superspeedways – and improved ratings and social media engagement.” What flipping planet is that guy living on?!?! It’s so depressing when NASCAR executives are spouting such ridiculousness. I’m not a negative person but I’m so disappointed at how NASCAR continues to spiral downward and how the future looks so dim despite having excellent drivers lined up for the foreseeable future.

      • Avatar

        i honestly think na$car lives in a fantasy land. they better do something with chevy noses so that cars can atleast try to contend.

        • Avatar

          Janice,
          Chevy has changed their nose for 2020 and going to the ZL1 1LE sticker. Looking closely it looks like they have reduced the point of the nose but I have not seen this confirmed.

      • Avatar

        It has seen improvements when comparing it to the Gen 6 era as a whole. At the end of the day this is still the Gen 6 car and they will never get to where they need to be with it. It is a shame it took NASCAR so long to realize this.

  4. Avatar

    Congrats to Kyle as that team executed the best the whole night. However that race was a total snoozefest!