To take home NASCAR’s greatest prize, Busch needed to finish ahead of the three other Championship 4 drivers – Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr. – in the final race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Homestead.
Busch and his brother Kurt Busch (2004 NSCS champion) join Terry and Bobby Labonte as the only brothers to earn NSCS titles.
Missing three months – a span of 11 races – due to his injury, Busch returned to his No. 18 Toyota at Charlotte in May, showing signs of rust by logging two finishes worse than 35th (36th at Dover; 43rd at Michigan) in his first four points events. He rounded into form his fifth race back by speeding to Victory Lane at Sonoma, catalyzing a dominant run of four wins in his next four starts, including three in a row at Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis.
Entering the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as one of the favorites to take home the crown, Busch gutted his way through the first two rounds, highlighted by a runner-up showing in the Challenger Round cutoff race at Dover. He hit his stride as the only driver to log top-five finishes in each Eliminator Round race to set up his championship effort at Homestead.
Busch joins Bobby Labonte, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick as the fourth driver to earn both a NSCS and NASCAR XFINITY Series championship. His title marks the fourth for Joe Gibbs Racing, which also won championships with Bobby Labonte (2000) and Tony Stewart (2002, ’05).
Toyota, which began full-time racing in the NSCS in 2007, has now captured a driver’s championship in all three NASCAR national series. Busch also won Toyota its first NSCS race at Atlanta in 2008.
Busch is the second consecutive champion to win the title with a victory in the Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Harvick accomplished the feat last season.