Miss Sprint Cup Madison Martin wants you to vote for The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award presented by Nationwide.
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Navigating through negative comments from detractors on social media is often a tough road. For Samantha Busch, criticism has been a much more personal topic of late, one that brings emotional timbres to her voice. Her husband, Kyle Busch , hoisted the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship trophy for the first time Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway , capping a stirring comeback season that opened with multiple severe leg injuries in a harrowing crash during the NASCAR XFINITY Series opener at Daytona International Speedway . Busch missed the first 11 races of the year as he recovered, returning to competition in mid-May with an exemption from NASCAR officials that kept him eligible for the title. When that eligibility eventually resulted in his first premier-series championship, online naysayers renewed their scrutiny of a decision and a playoff format that kept Busch's dreams intact. For Samantha Busch, that criticism hit home. "The waiver is very emotional," she said Monday night, moments after accepting accolades for her husband's championship-winning team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' season-ending awards banquet. "First of all, it wasn't just there for Kyle. It's been used for other drivers. It's been used for Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch and I believe Kyle Larson , so it's not like something that was just invented for Kyle and this injury. So that's the first thing that gets me a little emotional. "But secondly, I think people just think, 'Oh, he got to take 11 weeks off and so he's more refreshed than other drivers.' Absolutely wrong. He was sitting there trying to learn how to bend his toes, how to move his foot, how to stand up out of bed. It was not a walk in the park for him, it was not a vacation, and it was probably the hardest thing he's ever done in his life, and not only did he do it with such determination and passion, but he came back so much earlier than anyone expected." Samantha Busch recounted the more difficult moments of her husband's rehabilitation -- the falls, the doubts, and the struggle of merely learning to walk again. "People don't see what we went through," Busch said. "They don't know every hour. They don't understand how hard he works and I think that's why I get a little bit more emotional about it."
Check out some of the best radio chatter from Homestead-Miami Speedway as Jeff Gordon starts his final race and Kyle Busch takes home the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
RELATED: See photos of Gordon's final race The Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway was certainly full of tense, high-drama moments for drivers Kyle Busch , Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr . That's especially true for Gordon, who was competing for his fifth premier series championship in his final full-time season. But while the pressure was ramped up, there were still instances of light-hearted moments -- perhaps none as beautifully and expertly captured as the one with Ella Sofia Gordon. Ella, Gordon's 8-year-old daughter, accompanied her dad during driver introductions. When it was time for the group photo of championship contenders, she obviously had to get out of the frame. But how? This is the perfect solution -- just look at the grin on her face! -- and also a beautiful picture. What a weekend, great memories! Can't thank everyone enough for all the love & support! Amazing! Just like this pic pic.twitter.com/6lursxZEt2 — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) November 24, 2015
RELATED: Full race results " Final standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- To go fast, all Kyle Busch had to do was mash the gas pedal. To go faster, all he had to do was slow down. Had to slow down. No choice there. Busch "got in a fight" with an unprotected, concrete wall at Daytona before the season's first Sprint Cup Series race. He lost. Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway , he won. The road to the Sprint Cup title is a curious one. They say the 30-year-old Busch is a "changed" man -- actually, the word often used is "matured" -- and I hope that's only partly true. It's the competitive fire in Busch that pushes him to dance with a race car on the very edge. Occasionally, the results are disastrous; often, though, they are a thing of beauty. Busch didn't compete in all 36 points races this season, but for reasons out of his control. A broken right leg and a left foot that gave new meaning to the word "fractured" took care of that. For nearly 12 weeks, Busch idled. Idle is not a speed to which the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is accustomed. One doesn't win 154 races across three series by idling. A bed-ridden Busch had to sit and watch as three other drivers climbed into his No. 18 Toyota. It's been said that nothing hurts a racer more than seeing someone else in his car. Rehab was painful; sitting on the sidelines was agonizing. Potential wins were slipping by him on the television screen. When he finally did make it back to the track, no one knew what to expect, least of all Busch. Sure, he was confident. His crew chief, Adam Stevens, and car owner, Joe Gibbs, were confident. But no one was certain. No one knew if a broken leg and fractured foot were the only real injuries Busch suffered in Daytona several months earlier. Maybe the "want to" was still there, but the question was, could he? Could he still feel every nuance of the car as it rocketed around a race track? Could he push it to the very edge, find the sliver of an opening that existed only briefly, and charge his way through the field? Not only could Busch still do those things, but in some ways he did them better. Only six weeks after his return, Busch was back in the winner's circle, victorious at, of all places, Sonoma Raceway. In little more than a month's time, he won three consecutive races and four of five. Nearly as telling was his performance in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The format, tweaked from time to time, has always dealt hefty penalties for miscues with little or no time to recover, and Busch has had his share. This time, he navigated the minefield that stretched from Chicago to Homestead with minimal damage. If Busch has changed, so has his approach, something he called a "just let everything be" tactic. It's a short phrase that speaks volumes about his confidence in himself and his team. Changed? Maybe. Maybe hitting a concrete wall and starting a family and sitting on the sidelines had an effect on him after all. Slowing down wasn't a part of the plan. But in the end, that's what it took. And Busch, the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, is just fine with that.
RELATED: Play Fantasy Live now It's all down to this. Championships on the line both on the track and in Fantasy Live. Time to do what it takes to grab the title. Sure, the Championship 4 drivers have plenty on the line this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) but that doesn't mean that there are not other worthwhile plays to fill out your lineup in Fantasy Live. Make sure to set your lineup by using the information below to guide your picks. All stats listed -- place differential, fastest laps run and laps led – are Homestead-Miami Speedway specific and categories used in Fantasy Live scoring. Last week, the data showed that Kevin Harvick was a great play for Phoenix and while he did not win, he did have the most laps led and a runner-up finish. We also recommended Aric Almirola as a sleeper pick and his top 10 proved that to be a solid selection. Good luck this weekend! Laps led, since 2005 1. Carl Edwards , 560 2. Matt Kenseth , 449 t-3. Jeff Gordon , 237 t-3. Kyle Busch , 237 Fastest laps run, since 2005 1. Carl Edwards , 267 2. Jeff Gordon , 170 3. Martin Truex Jr ., 168 Place differential, 2014 fall race 1. Ryan Newman , +19 2. Cole Whitt , +16 t-3. Danica Patrick , +14 t-3. Jamie McMurray , +14 t-3. Kyle Larson , +14 Sleeper picks Kasey Kahne : Since his first start at Homestead in 2004, Kahne has collected 10 straight top 25s there. He also has back-to-back 13th-or-better finishes in his last two starts. Owning an average finish of 14.9, Kahne has also led 107 laps, has four top 10s and an average running position of 12.6 (eighth-best). The Hendrick Motorsports driver's value is undoubtedly there for his asking price. Ryan Newman : Newman remains a feature sleeper play at Homestead. Over the past three races, the Richard Childress Racing driver is averaging 44.0 fantasy points per race, good for 10th among active NASCAR competitors. Coming off a career-best second-place finish at Homestead in 2014, Newman will be looking to improve that. He has two top fives and five top 10s in 13 starts at Miami. Value picks Ty Dillon : Dillon also comes with risk due to his part-time Cup eligibility, so he carries a bit of a gamble. In his four Cup races this season, Dillon has improved in each race by at least two spots with finishes of 28th, 26th, 18th and a season best 14th at Michigan. He owns a season place differential of +7 and an average finish of 21.5. The value is "must have" at Dillon’s asking price for Homestead. Justin Allgaier : Fresh off a 17th-place finish at Phoenix, Allgaier makes a stout value play for Homestead this weekend. In his one career race at Homestead in 2014, he started 14th and finished 15th. The HScott Motorsports driver ranks a remarkable 20th among NASCAR drivers in fantasy points averaged over his last three races with 17.4 per race.
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Martin Truex Jr .'s path to the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship round at Homestead-Miami Speedway has been one of remarkable consistency. His team hauler's path to Homestead on the other hand, has been filled with adventure, long before it ever set wheels in the Sunshine State. The Furniture Row Racing transporter carrying Truex's No. 78 Chevrolet to the season finale barely made it out of its blizzard-battered home base of Denver, Colorado. Winter Storm Ajax dropped a foot of snow on the Mile High City , with high winds and wintry weather bringing the city to a standstill over a 36-hour period from late Monday to early Wednesday. For Barry Huston and Chuck Lemay, the team's hauler drivers, the severe storm didn't fit into their plans for a Tuesday afternoon departure. "They left 12 hours later than they wanted to," Truex said during media availabilities for the title-eligible drivers Thursday afternoon, just as the team transporter was setting a course to Alligator Alley. "They spent the night at Wal ‑ Mart Tuesday night. They started shutting down all the highways. They had to pull into Wal ‑ Mart, park the truck and spend the night. "Chuck and Barry are here. They should be here by now. The last I heard they were about four or five hours out. So they should be at the track by now." The Barney Visser-owned team has long navigated different travel logistics as the only Sprint Cup team with headquarters west of the Mississippi River. Making the tight turn from a rain-delayed race last weekend in Phoenix to this weekend's race in Homestead some 2, 400 miles away is tricky enough, especially with a championship on the line. Throw in the threat of adverse weather conditions and the degree of difficulty goes skyward. "It ended up not being an issue, honestly, but it was scary for a while, I can tell you," said Joe Garone, Furniture Row Racing 's general manager. "You get a blizzard coming in town, we all know how hard the weather is to predict anyway, so you're just not sure what's going to happen. It could end up the two main arteries going into Denver end up closed and you could be stuck at home or, worse yet, wrecked on the side of the road. "It ended up playing out. Everything was fine. But it is something you have to take serious and look at, yeah."
RELATED: Full results " Final standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Three contenders with outside chances at winning the season-long NASCAR XFINITY Series fight had their brush with taking the trophy away from eventual champ Chris Buescher . Unfortunately, the trio had another brush -- with the Homestead-Miami Speedway wall during Saturday's season finale. The latter brushes aside, title hopefuls Ty Dillon , Chase Elliott and Regan Smith finished seventh, eighth and ninth respectfully, coming up short in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 300 . The results -- combined with Buescher's 11th-place effort Saturday -- left Elliott second (15 points back), Dillon third (-18) and Smith fourth (-22) in the final standings. All three emerged from scraped Chevrolets with wishes of what might've been. Elliott came closest, but was unable to take a repeat XFINITY championship with him as he moves to the Sprint Cup Series next year as Jeff Gordon 's replacement with Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott ranked either second or third for the majority of the season, closing the year with seven consecutive top-10 finishes. The 19-year-old notched one win (in September at Richmond), but said those opportunities were fleeting over the course of the 33-race season. "Yeah, chalk it up to we got beat and didn't win enough races. That's the bottom line," said Elliott, who won three times as a championship-winning rookie in 2014. "… The most important thing in this sport is being able to win and give yourself chances to win a race every weekend. We race from February to November, and we didn't give ourselves enough chances. I didn't do a good enough job to put ourselves in position to go and try to win races. "That's the most important thing, and like I said, that's what I chalk it up to is just not being in contention enough." Dillon led the standings for the majority of the spring and soldiered ahead after a midseason crew chief change. His biggest lament came in October at Dover International Speedway , where a blown tire and slap of the outside wall with his Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet left him with a costly 28th-place finish. Dillon righted the ship slightly, closing out the year with five straight top-10 finishes to take third place away from Smith down the stretch. "It's a good year," Dillon said. "It's always a good thing to be disappointed with not winning the championship but having an opportunity, I feel like. Just proud of my guys' effort. We really turned it around the second half of the year and were a championship team. If Dover wouldn't have happened, there's always ifs and buts, but if Dover wouldn't have happened, we would've probably would've won this championship by about 15 points. So, I'm proud of what we did in the second half. … "We'll be back next year and we won't be sitting here third in points. Hopefully, we'll be lifting that trophy." Smith had the best closing kick of the four title hopefuls, coming in the face of job uncertainty as his three-year tenure at JR Motorsports drew to a close. The 32-year-old veteran won twice, with his first victory of the season at Mid-Ohio touching off a streak of 13 consecutive top-10 finishes to round out the year. The steady streak didn't unseat any of the three drivers ahead of him, but Smith said he hoped it was enough to draw interest from a prospective team owner for 2016. "I'm glad we were in the conversation," Smith said of his title campaign. "There's a couple points in the air that probably shouldn't have been and probably really weren't just because of common mistakes or other people's mistakes on the race track. So that's good. I'm frustrated today. I guess that's the only thing you focus on is how your night went tonight and we really struggled. … "We'll see how things play out for next year. I know what I'm capable of in a race car and I've still got some championships left in me, and we need to go get one."
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Even in the moments Chris Buescher was celebrating his NASCAR XFINITY Series title Saturday night, his team owner Jack Roush was suggesting that the newly-crowned champion might end up in the Sprint Cup Series in 2016. The only question seemed to be whether it would be a full-time ride or a part-time gig. "We're still not sure what his arrangement is going to be next year,'' Roush said. "He will be involved in a Cup car to some extent, but whether it's a part ‑ time program or a full program, we're still in the midst of finalizing the conditions today. "We've got a number of possibilities, but we're not ready to announce that today." While Roush is still securing details, it was all news to Buescher. Reporters told Buescher of Roush's comments -- made before the driver came into the deadline media room at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- but the newly crowned champ wasn't ready to confirm a change beyond his intent to run a full XFINITY schedule in 2016. Buescher made six Cup starts this season in the Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford with a best finish of 20th at Fontana. "So I've been clear, I'm not in a rush,'' Buescher, 23, said Saturday after celebrating his XFINITY Series title. "If it comes around -- and that's the first I've heard of that, by the way -- so it's kind of like the radio interview where Jack said something four months ago and I found out from my dad. "But you know, if that's what it brings, then I'll do my best to prepare for it and be ready, and if not, we'll go try and double up on these XFINITY championships. "Right now we're living in the moment, and that's a big weight off our shoulders. We get to calm down a little bit, get to celebrate, get to enjoy the banquet, going to do some offshore fishing while we're down here in Florida, and get ready for 2016."