HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — Kyle Busch won his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, giving team owner Joe Gibbs his fifth title.
Busch emerged from the Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut and clinched his second title in five years after two teammates were slowed by pit road gaffes.
The 34-year-old Las Vegas native won the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to snap a 21-race losing streak and beat Gibbs teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., as well as rival Kevin Harvick.
Busch won the 2015 title and joins seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson as the only active drivers with multiple Cup championships. Johnson owns a record-tying sev
Kyle Busch won the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and his second NASCAR Cup Series championship. (Photo: Peter Casey, USA TODAY Sports)
Busch had raced for the championship in each of the last three seasons but fell short last season in part because of his crew’s own pit error.
Truex, who finished second in the Ford EcoBoost 400, and Hamlin, who finished 10th, each had issues on pit road. Harvick finished fourth.
Look at all that water spewing out of @DennyHamlin’s car.
He was experiencing overheating issues and had to pit. Heartbreak for the No. 11 team. #Championship4pic.twitter.com/yuloDk2PIQ
STAGE 2: Kyle Busch won the second segment, taking advantage of a mistake made by Truex's crew.
Busch moved to the front when Truex was forced to pit after his team mixed up the right- and left-side front tires on a pit stop at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Truex clearly had the dominant car early in the title bout.
Disaster for Martin Truex Jr.!
The team switched tires on pit road, switching the right front and left front! He’s now one lap down. #Championship4pic.twitter.com/boW061Gvlk
Busch led 29 laps in the 80-lap second stage. Fellow title contender Harvick crossed the start-finish line second, followed by Truex and Hamlin.
Truex got back on the lead lap – and in the championship hunt – thanks to a fortuitous caution.
STAGE 1: Truex won the opening stage of the championship race, an indication he was the one to beat in the finale.
Truex, one of four title contenders in the 40-car field, led the final 59 laps of the 80-lap stage and took the checked flag more than 5 seconds ahead of Kyle Larson.
Fellow championship contenders Kyle Busch, Harvick and Hamlin followed Larson across the start-finish line. Harvick led the first 20 laps in the first stage.
RARE AIR: Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan brought some championship star power to Homestead.
Jordan, who owns the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, and Denny Hamlin are good friends – they met seven years ago – so Jordan will be rooting for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver and cheering from his pit box.
JUMPMAN is in the house for @dennyhamlin!
Michael Jordan, the owner of the @hornets and representing the @NBA at @HomesteadMiami is ready for a championship style race. pic.twitter.com/zvQpXZ2wi6
“We go way back,” Jordan said during an interview with NBC Sports. “He’s a season-ticket holder at the Hornets. I spend a lot of time playing golf with him, and obviously I’m a big NASCAR fan, so I came out to support him.”
Jordan says he grew up watching NASCAR and sets “my clock every Sunday” to catch races.
Jordan says he has no plans to get more involved in racing.
“I’ve got a lot on my plate,” he said. “I love being a fan. I still understand the sport, but in terms of ownership, nah, I think I’m just going to sit back and watch it and support from afar.”
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