NEW YORK (November 19, 2015) -- Anheuser-Busch announced today a multi-year partnership renewal with Daytona International Speedway (DIS) that extends its status as the exclusive official beer sponsor of DIS and the DAYTONA 500. The partnership will also provide Anheuser-Busch with naming rights to four locations within the new motorsports stadium as part of the DAYTONA Rising redevelopment project, which is scheduled to open in January 2016. Two of the bar locations to be featured in the new "World Center of Racing" central "neighborhood" zone and spacious concourses, while the other two will be located in other parts of the stadium. All four locations will enable Anheuser-Busch to advertise multiple brands from its portfolio of beers including Busch, Budweiser, Bud Light and Stella Artois. Anheuser-Busch will also retain naming rights to the infield area -- the Budweiser Bistro. " Daytona International Speedway has been a tremendous partner for Anheuser-Busch ever since we first introduced the Busch Clash back in 1979, which was held each year at DIS the week prior to the DAYTONA 500," said Nick Kelly, director of experiential marketing, Anheuser-Busch. "We're looking forward to continuing this relationship that allows us to have a significant marketing presence at the track, and now we'll be able to deliver an elevated experience to our fans as a result of the DAYTONA Rising project." Anheuser-Busch's partnership with DIS continues a period of investment and rededication to the sport of racing. The Busch family of beers recently announced it is reigniting its storied past in NASCAR by sponsoring Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 team of Stewart-Haas Racing for select races during the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season beginning with the Sprint Unlimited at DIS on Feb. 13. In conjunction, Anheuser-Busch will employ a comprehensive marketing approach to celebrate Busch’s return to the sport of racing, including on-track, experiential, in-market and retail activations, as well as TV spots leading up to the DAYTONA 500. "We're thrilled to kick off the next chapter of our longstanding partnership with Anheuser-Busch," said Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III. "Our new motorsports stadium will provide enhanced opportunities to market their brands and connect with race fans." Anheuser-Busch shares a rich history with the sport of racing as well as DIS, dating back to the late 1970s. This represents the longest-standing partnership for DIS. For more information on Anheuser-Busch, visit www.anheuser-busch.com . To learn more about DIS, please visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com .
Crash that broke his leg and foot, journey back to racing SHOP: Busch gear Nov. 22: Busch wins first Sprint Cup Series championship In a season fit for the silver screen, Kyle Busch completes his emotional comeback from a devastating season-opening injury to capture his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. " Read the full story " Final 2015 standings Nov. 22: Busch wins title with victory at Homestead-Miami Driver Kyle Busch caps an amazing comeback, winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 to hold off fellow Championship 4 contenders Kevin Harvick , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr . " Read the full story " Complete race results Aug. 9: Busch breaks into top 30 in drivers points standings A runner-up finish at Watkins Glen pushed Kyle Busch into 30th place in the Sprint Cup points standings, a requirement of eligibility for him for the Chase. With four race wins under his belt, he must remain in the top 30 to make the Chase. " Read the full story " Full race results July 11: Kyle Busch wins Sprint Cup race at Kentucky A second win helps Kyle Busch 's chances of cracking the top 30 in points, the second condition he must meet to make the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup . " Read the full story " Full race results June 28: Kyle Busch wins Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Needing victory to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup , Kyle Busch got the victory at Sonoma , a track that had been a concern as he continues to recover because the road course is so physically demanding. " Read the full story " Full race results June 13: Kyle Busch wins XFINITY race at Michigan Kyle Busch goes to Victory Lane in his first race back in the XFINITY Series after breaking his leg and left foot at Daytona . " Read the full story " Full race results May 24: Kyle Busch completes Coca-Cola 600 , finishes 11th Kyle Busch makes his Sprint Cup points race debut for the season in the Coca-Cola 600 , climbing to second place before fuel strategy led to an 11th-place finish. " Read the full story May 18: Kyle, Samantha Busch welcome first baby Driver Kyle Busch and his wife, Samantha, had their first child, a boy, at 9:45 p.m. May 18. Brexton Locke Busch is his name. " Read the full story May 16: Busch finishes sixth in All-Star race After a pleasing top-10 run in his first race back from leg and foot injuries, Kyle Busch looks forward to running in the Coca-Cola 600 " Read the full story May 13: Kyle Busch granted Chase waiver NASCAR has granted Kyle Busch a waiver for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Find out what he has to do to make the Chase. " Read the full story " Official NASCAR release " Cain: Making Chase will cap comeback May 12: Kyle Busch announces return After missing 11 events to open the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season following his injury at Daytona , Kyle Busch has set his return for the Sprint All-Star Race on May 16. " Read the full story " Drivers react to news of Busch's return " Herman Unplugged: Reaction to Busch's return " Busch's return a hot topic at Dover test May 9: Jones' promising run crashes at Kansas Making his first Sprint Cup start filling in for the injured Kyle Busch , Erik Jones was working on a great run at Kansas until he found the wall late in the race. " Read the full story April 16: Accident leads Busch to become unexpected safety advocate NASCAR.com's Holly Cain tells the story of how Kyle Busch 's wreck at Daytona has changed the Joe Gibbs Racing driver into a saftey advocate for the sport. Busch talks about how impressed he was of the breadth and depth of detailed information that has been gathered from his accident. " Read the full story April 16: Busch family bonds, finds strength in recovery With a baby on the way, the Busch family discuss how they've worked as a team to recover from Kyle's injury while prepping to expand their family. The parents-to-be explain that it hasn't been easy, but they're counting their blessings. " Read the full story April 15: Kyle Busch analyzes tape of his wreck Kyle Busch holds his first press conference after his crash at Daytona and uses video to break down his thought process as the wreck unfolded. His doctors are pleased with his progress, but he has no timeline for returning to driving. " Read the full story " Herman Unplugged: Busch should sit out 2015 April 15: Kyle Busch responds to Keselowski blog During his first press conference after his Daytona crash, Kyle Busch also addressed his long-running feud with fellow Sprint Cup driver Brad Keselowski . " Watch the video " More on Keselowski's blog April 15: Kyle Busch , wife discuss crash, impending parenthood In an interview with Charlotte NBC affiliate WCNC, Kyle Busch and his wife Samantha discussed the driver's accident at Daytona in February " Read the full story March 20: Kyle Busch takes next step in recovery Kyle Busch posts a video on Facebook of himself moving around a bit with the aid of a walker, along with encouragement from his wife, Samantha, and their dog. " Read the full story March 17: KBM drivers keep in touch Daniel Suarez says his team owner's advice is invaluable. And Justin Boston reports Busch is 'recovering quickly.' " Read the full story March 14: Kurt Busch hopes brother doesn't rush return Kurt Busch says, 'You can't rush the healing of bones and surgeries.' And teammate Denny Hamlin says Kyle Busch is staying engaged with the No. 18 team despite being sidelined. " Read the full story March 11: Kyle Busch , Samantha, visit KBM Kyle Busch and his wife, Samantha, take a field trip to Kyle Busch Motorsports and tell the team, 'Progress is going well.' " Read the full story March 10: Busch gets walking boots Kyle Busch gets soft casts removed from both legs and moves up to walking boots, which Samantha Busch dubs 'Terminator boots' in a Twitter photo. " Read the full story March 2: Subs announced for No. 54 XFINITY Toyota Denny Hamlin , Erik Jones and Boris Said are tapped as substitute drivers for Kyle Busch in the No. 54 NASCAR XFINITY Series Toyota. "Get Well Kyle" stickers adorn the No. 54. " Read the full story Feb. 27: Kyle Busch heads home after second surgery After a second surgery to treat his injuries, Kyle Busch was in a Charlotte hospital for observation for two days before being cleared to go home. The No. 18 racing team put a "Get well Kyle" on the rear bumper of the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the Atlanta race. " Read the full story Feb. 25: Kyle Busch has successful surgery on left foot Joe Gibbs Racing announces that Kyle Busch underwent a successful surgery on his left foot at a Charlotte hospital. " Read the full story Feb. 24: Kyle Busch leaves Florida hospital Kyle Busch was released from Halifax Health Medical Center. He boarded a plane on a stretcher and was transferred to a North Carolina hospital for further treatment of multiple leg injuries. " Read the full story Feb. 24: David Ragan to sub for Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing announces that David Ragan will sub for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota for several weeks, starting at Atlanta Motor Speedway . " Read the full story Feb. 24: ISC working on 'significant plan' for safer barriers In the wake of Kyle Busch 's severe crash and resulting injuries during the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway , International Speedway Corporation announces a plan to expand its use of impact-diffusing barriers at its 12 tracks. " Read the full story Feb. 22: Joe Gibbs says Busch's surgery went well Team owner Joe Gibbs gives an update on Kyle Busch 's status after surgery and says he is 'resting comfortably.' Doctors reported that things went well with surgery on Busch's lower right leg. " Read the full story Feb. 22: Samantha Busch gives update from hospital Samantha Busch posts a selfie with Kyle Busch from his hospital bed on Twitter with a tweet saying, "Getting ready to watch the Daytona 500 ! Cheering on our 18 boys!" " Read the full story Feb. 21: Drivers wish Kyle Busch well after hard hit Kyle Busch is taken to the hospital by ambulance after a big wreck during the XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway . Fellow drivers sent well-wishes via Twitter. " Read the full story Feb. 21: Hard hit sidelines Kyle Busch for Daytona 500 A crash in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race caused NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch to miss the Daytona 500 after suffering injuries to his right leg and left foot a day before the Great American Race at Daytona International Speedway . " Read the full story
RELATED: Timeline of Busch's injury, recovery NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch , who missed the first 11 races of the 2015 season after suffering multiple injuries in a NASCAR XFINITY Series season-opening wreck at Daytona , confirmed he will have two additional surgeries in December. On either Dec. 14 or Dec. 15, Busch hopes to have both procedures done at the same time -- one to remove the plates and screws from his left foot and the other to remove the rod from his right leg. Those devices were put in during corrective surgery in February. RELATED: Watch the crash that injured Busch " When I get the foot surgery done, I haven't heard exactly how long I'm supposed to be off of that, but the doctor made it seem as if once the plates and screws come out, I'll be able to walk on it right away," Busch said during a teleconference. "It'll be to rehab to make sure that all the joints that have been immobilized for the last nine months, we get them kind of woken back up in a smooth fashion and break it in let's say. "And then the leg, though, you know, I'm going to be down for probably they said about four weeks with the leg. Just having to re-go through the knee and to cut the knee open again in order to pull the rod out, that's going to be the most traumatic part and just having that have to heal and go back together." Busch completed his Champion's Tour duties on Tuesday in New York City. Next up is a stop in hometown Las Vegas for Champion's Week.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE COUNTRY 500 “The Great American Music Fest at Daytona ” Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, Willie Nelson and 40 More Stars To Rock Daytona International Speedway Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-29, 2016 Tickets on Sale and Complete Music Lineup to Be Released November 3 Sign up to be on the mailing list and get all the festival info as soon as it becomes available at Country500.com ; Country 500 on Facebook ; @Country500 on Twitter ( Daytona Beach, Fla.) - October 15, 2015 – Daytona International Speedway , the “World Center of Racing,” will host the inaugural Country 500 music festival featuring Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Kid Rock, TBA, Lady Antebellum, Willie Nelson and dozens more over Memorial Day Weekend—May 27, 28 & 29, 2016. The complete Country 500 lineup, including the Friday night headliner, will be released on November 3 and tickets, camping and VIP packages will go on sale to the public the same day. Fans should plan to take advantage of the special early bird pricing ($199) for weekend general admission passes beginning on November 3. Also called “The Great American Music Fest at Daytona ,” the Country 500 festival will feature the biggest stars in country music spread over three days and nights, programmed on three huge performance stages—all specially designed and built for the festival. Country 500 will take place on the infield of the world-famous Daytona International Speedway , a historic first mega-music festival inside the hallowed grounds of one of the most iconic motorsports venues in America. Just as it is for the great races at the Speedway, Country 500 will allow fans to actually camp out in the infield, literally inside the festival. A full-range of camping opportunities is available for virtually any budget, from pitching a tent to deluxe RV locations. Special VIP packages called “Crew Chief VIP Experience” and “VIP Pit Pass” (see attached) allow for an exclusive upfront, golden-circle viewing area at the main stage with side stage access at the other performances areas plus access to comfortable hospitality areas, private cash bars and many other comforts and amenities. Visit Country500.com or call 1-844-500-FEST for VIP benefits, camping information and all the Country 500 details. Fans at the festival will also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of their favorite country stars at artist meet-and-greets located throughout pit road and the garages. Numerous other features—a select festival menu sold from food booths and food trucks; carnival rides; arcade games; cooling water elements; country-and-western merchandise; fireworks; and more—will all be a part of the festival, as Country 500 transforms racing’s greatest venue into a festival-goer’s dream. Visit Country500.com or call 1-844-500-FEST for tickets, camping, parking, and other festival information. Make sure to sign up on the Country 500 mailing list and get all the festival info including travel packages and hotel accommodations as soon as it becomes available. “Luke Bryan closing out the Festival Sunday night; Kid Rock, Willie Nelson, and a homecoming celebration with Florida Georgia Line all on Saturday night; another superstar still to be announced to close Friday night; plus 40 more stars will be featured on the three stages over three days,” said Festival Producer Quint Davis. “The Country 500, like its older brother on the race track, will positively rock the one and only Daytona International Speedway . Be the first to get your favorite camping spot on the infield inside the Festival. Look for the full lineup and tickets on sale November 3.” “We’re proud to develop this new partnership with AEG Live and Festival Productions, Inc. – New Orleans and bring the Country 500 music festival to Daytona International Speedway ,” Track President Joie Chitwood III said. “Signature events such as the DAYTONA 500 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona have made DIS the ‘World Center of Racing’ but by securing this marquee music festival with an amazing lineup of artists, we will also be known as the ‘World Center of Entertainment.” Stay connected with Country 500 on Facebook , Country500.com on the web and #Country500 on Twitter . AEG Live and Festival Productions, Inc. – New Orleans are partnering with Daytona International Speedway to produce the Country 500. Festival Contact: Matthew Goldman, 504-410-4100, Matthew@fpi-no.com Daytona International Speedway Contact: Andrew Booth, 386-681-6714, Abooth@daytonainternationalspeedway.com PLEASE NOTE: Artist images and the official Country 500 logo can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/country500-pr and artist b-roll video is available at http://bit.ly/country500-video . ABOUT AEG & AEG LIVE AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Company, owns or is affiliated with a collection of companies including over 100 of the world’s preeminent facilities. AEG Live, the company’s live-entertainment division, is the world’s second largest concert promotion and touring companies and is comprised of touring, festival, exhibition, broadcasts and special event divisions with 15 regional offices. For additional information, visit: www.aegworldwide.com . ABOUT FESTIVAL PRODUCTIONS, INC. – NEW ORLEANS Festival Productions, Inc. – New Orleans (FPI-NO) is a Louisiana company that works in partnership with AEG Live. FPI-NO is the founder and the producer of the world-famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which draws almost 500,000 patrons from around the world for the 10-day event. The company has also produced myriad other events over the last four decades, from the Essence Music Festival to two Presidential Inaugural public events on the National Mall, as well as special events for both the NBA and the NFL. Since 2010, FPI-NO has created and produced several major country music festivals, including Bayou Country Superfest at LSU Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and Buckeye Country Superfest at the Ohio State University’s legendary “Horseshoe” in Columbus. ABOUT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY Known as the “World Center of Racing,” Daytona International Speedway has activity nearly every day of the year hosting stock cars, sports cars, motorcycles and karts. Daytona International Speedway has at least eight major race weekends a year with premier events such as the DAYTONA 500, the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola on Independence Day holiday weekend, the Rolex 24 At Daytona sports car event, the Daytona Supercross By Honda and the Daytona 200 motorcycle classic. In addition, Daytona International Speedway showcases daily track tours and is home to the winning Daytona 500 car. ### Country 500 Weekend Festival Passes 3-DAY GENERAL ADMISSION WEEKEND PASS – ($199 early bird all-in pricing) -3-day general admission; passes are non-transferable -Includes access to over 40 bands on three festival stages, a select menu of food and beverage offerings sold from food booths and food trucks, carnival rides, arcade games, country and western merchandise, official festival merchandise, a myriad of shade and water elements and much more VIP PIT PASS - ($599 all-in pricing) -3-day admission; passes are non-transferable -Access to the Pit, an exclusive upfront, golden circle viewing area at the Country 500 Stage and VIP viewing at the Daytona Stage and Bluebird Theater -Access to the VIP Pit Stop, a private hospitality tent where guests can cool of in the shade with access to exclusive beverage for purchase, private merchandise stand, cell phone charging stations and more. -Private air-conditioned flushable restrooms -Exclusive festival merchandise item -Express VIP entrance with re-entry all weekend -Exclusive opportunity to purchase a VIP parking space -On-site experience concierge CREW CHIEF VIP EXPERIENCE – ($999 all-in pricing) -3-day admission; passes are non-transferable -Access to the Pit, an exclusive upfront, golden circle viewing area at the Country 500 Stage and VIP viewing at the Daytona Stage and Bluebird Theater -Exclusive access to the Crew Chief Super VIP Deck at the Country 500 Stage featuring a covered viewing platform with premium views of the main stage, private cash bar and air-conditioned restrooms -Exclusive access to the Country 500 VIP Club, a private indoor air-conditioned hospitality lounge featuring cash bar, comfortable furnishings, private merchandise stand, complimentary light snacks and refreshments, massages, Wi-Fi, charging stations and more -Crew Chief VIP-only exclusive festival merchandise item -Express VIP entrance with re-entry all weekend -Exclusive opportunity to purchase a VIP parking space -On-site experience concierge -Plus a few surprises!
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- PowerShares QQQ has entered into a multi-year partnership to serve as the title sponsor for the NASCAR XFINITY Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway (DIS), part of Speedweeks 2016. The 120-lap, 300-mile race will be known as the PowerShares QQQ 300, taking place February 20, 2016. PowerShares QQQ ™ is an exchange-traded fund based on the Nasdaq-100 Index ®. "We're excited about forming this new relationship with PowerShares QQQ," Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. " Daytona International Speedway and DAYTONA Rising, our $400 million redevelopment project, are great platforms for new partners to showcase their brands to our passionate NASCAR race fans at the 'World Center of Racing.' " "Invesco PowerShares QQQ ETF was created on the core principles of powerful performance, deep technology experience and building a sustainable track record," said Dan Draper, Global Head of Invesco PowerShares. "As technology evolves and the ETF business becomes faster while needing to maintain precision, we see great synergies between our goals of continuing to deliver on that track record in the same sense that NASCAR aims to execute through its races." The events during Speedweeks 2016 will be the first to be held at DIS following the completion of the $400 million DAYTONA Rising redevelopment project. Race fans will experience new amenities such as wider and more comfortable seats, spacious concourses, escalators and elevators, twice as many restrooms and three times as many concessions and merchandise stands and two new larger video display boards. Tickets for the PowerShares QQQ 300 as well as other Speedweeks 2016 events are available here or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter , Facebook , Pinterest and YouTube for the latest news throughout the season. Fans also can follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the "World Center of Racing" by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting here .
You've heard of the Daytona 500 -- now there's the Country 500. Both events even take place at the same venue. Daytona International Speedway announced Thursday that it will host the inaugural Country 500 music festival May 27-29, 2016. The Memorial Day weekend festival will feature performances by Luke Bryan, Florida George Line, Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, Willie Nelson and more. "We're proud to develop this new partnership … and bring the Country 500 music festival to Daytona International Speedway ," track president Joie Chitwood III said. "Signature events such as the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona have made DIS the 'World Center of Racing' but by securing this marquee music festival with an amazing lineup of artists, we will also be known as the 'World Center of Entertainment.' " The complete lineup, including the Friday night headliner, will be unveiled Nov. 3 -- the same day tickets go on sale. The acts will perform on three massive performance stages throughout the infield of Daytona , which is hosting its first mega-music festival in this event. Like a NASCAR weekend, fans can camp out in the infield, either in tents or RVs. For more information on the lineup and to buy tickets, visit Country500.com.
RELATED: Complete results from Homestead " Updated standings SHOP: Champion's gear " Gordon gear HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch capped a most improbable comeback Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway , capturing the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship while winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 . Busch, 30, passed race leader Brad Keselowski on a final restart with seven laps remaining, then pulled away from fellow Chase for the Sprint Cup contender Kevin Harvick to score his fifth win of the season and secure his first premier series title. It was also the first Sprint Cup Series championship for automaker Toyota, which entered the series in 2007. "A dream of a lifetime, a dream come true," Busch said. "I just can't believe with everything that happened this year and all the turmoil, all the things that I went through, that my wife (Samantha) went through and the people that are around me went through. This championship is all for these guys, my wife, my family, everyone who has had to sacrifice so much to get me here to this place today, whether it was on my team right now, or on my teams in the past." "Adam Stevens (crew chief) prepared such a great race car. Adam Stevens is my hero. I love that guy." Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Jeff Gordon ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) advanced through this year's 16-team, 10-race Chase format to qualify for a shot at the title. RELATED: Busch wins first Cup Series championship Busch said he never doubted that he and his team could orchestrate such a stunning comeback. "Oh yeah, no doubt," he said. "The rehab ... getting ready and focused, all that was the hardest part and the hardest thing I have ever gone through. To put it all together and be here tonight, this wasn't that hard." Sidelined for the season's first 11 points races after suffering a broken right leg and fractures to his left foot in an XFINITY Series crash at Daytona International Speedway , Busch returned to win five times. Sunday's victory was the 34th of his career. Busch can thank debris on the race track for the race win. It was driver and team that won the championship, however. Seemingly on his way to a second-place finish that would have still secured the title, Busch shot past Keselowski ( Team Penske ) on a Lap 261 restart for the 18th and final lead change of the night. "I knew it was time to go," Busch said. "I don't know why Brad chose the bottom, but he gave me the top and I thought, 'This is interesting.'" The restart order put Harvick directly behind Busch, who said, "I knew I just had to protect whatever Harvick tried to do if he was going to shoot the middle or shoot the gap or whatever it was going to be." "I don't know if Brad spun his tires or what. We got to Turns 1 and 2 and we were pretty even; I just looked into (Turn) 4 and gave it everything I had those last seven or eight laps." Officially, it was Busch, Harvick and Keselowski finishing first through third, with Joey Logano and Kyle Larson rounding out the top five. "I don't really know if there was a right one or wrong one, to be honest," Keselowski, who led a race-high 86 laps, said of the lane choice call. "We just weren't fast enough and I don't think it would have mattered either way." Gordon ended his illustrious driving career with a sixth-place finish while Truex wound up 12th. ALL ACCESS: Gordon parks car for final time "His talent is so strong, and that team really found some things this year," Gordon, a four-time champion making his final start, said of Busch, adding that he's seen "a changed Kyle." "When he came back, not only was he driven and just inspired by it, but you can tell he was racing smarter, with more patience, just being more deliberate. ... I think he showed it right away when he came back that there was a pretty good chance he was destined to win this championship." It wasn't a down-to-the wire battle for the championship or for the race until the final caution. With 67 laps remaining, Keselowski was easily out front while Busch enjoyed a lead of more than one second over Harvick for second place. Gordon, who had led earlier, ran ninth and Truex was just outside the top 10, running 12th. A fire on pit road and an ill-handling car stymied the efforts of Truex and his team for the first half of the race; a two-tire gamble during pit stop on Lap 168 put him out front. WATCH: Truex Jr. has 'a lot to build on for the future' But the lead was short-lived; Truex soon found himself free-falling through the field, eventually settling in just outside the top 10. Gordon made his way to the front for the first time following a Lap 36 restart, shooting past the soon-to-be champ for the lead and bringing the crowd in the grandstands to their feet. Harvick took charge moments later with a power move on a Lap 45 restart. A multi-car accident involving Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Clint Bowyer and others erupted almost as soon as Harvick took control, bringing the yellow flag for the fourth time. RELATED: Harvick sets bittersweet NASCAR record The defending series champion was able to build as much as a 1.5-second lead over Busch and led 46 laps before a cycle of green-flag pit stops allowed Joey Logano to move to the top spot. Afterward, Harvick could only smile as he watched Busch celebrate on stage. "He broke his leg at Daytona , and to come back from everything that he came back from ... that's a great comeback story from where he was after Daytona ," said Harvick. The race began 1 hour, 35 minutes late due to rain but ran uninterrupted by weather conditions following its 4:50 p.m. ET start.
MORE: Sunday's full lineup RELATED: Gordon's top 24 NASCAR moments " Full Gordon coverage HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Busy week, surrounded by a lot of friends and family, a legendary figure making the final start of his career with a shot at going out as a five-time champion. Racer. Philanthropist. Father. What's there to say about Jeff Gordon that hasn't been said? What's there to write that hasn't been written? Do a Google search for " Jeff Gordon " and the search engine generates approximately 79 million results. Tom Brady? 83.1 million. Kobe Bryant? 34.6 million. Derek Jeter? 14 million. Gordon, 44, is one of those rare athletes who have transcended their individual sport. A champion on the track? Without question. Off the track? Certainly. Television and tabloids flock to him. He purchased a second residence in New York City in part to escape the spotlight and to navigate life in between races unimpeded by the fame that followed him elsewhere. Maybe he would not carry the same clout or create the same buzz had he chosen another profession. Then again, perhaps his impact would have been even greater elsewhere. A precocious, driven youngster whose family packed up moved east from California in order to continue his development as a racer. A NASCAR premier series champion at 24. And 26. And 27. And 30. Now, at 44, is there one more title in the tank? What's there to say that hasn't been said, write that hasn't been written? WATCH: Gordon's first Homestead win The Alpha and Omega NASCAR didn't begin with Gordon, and it certainly won't end when the Hendrick Motorsports driver climbs from his No. 24 Chevrolet for the final time on Sunday evening. "Everybody's career comes to an end," Richard Petty said. "He's going out strong. I admire him for that part of it. "I wouldn't mind seeing him win the championship because he's meant so much to NASCAR over the years. They're going to miss him a whole lot from that standpoint." There is no one in the sport more qualified to speak on such matters than the man known simply as "The King." Now 78, Petty set the standard for champions on the track as well as how to conduct oneself outside the car. Icon, inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame member, winner of 200 races and seven championships, Petty is NASCAR. The Petty family is NASCAR. Petty's father, Lee, won three titles, 54 races and was in the very first sanctioned race. He, too, is a member of the Hall of Fame. The careers of Richard Petty and Gordon are inextricably linked by a single date – Nov. 15, 1992. Petty made his 1,184th and final start in NASCAR's premier series. Gordon made his very first in the same event. Petty met privately with Gordon this weekend at Homestead to present him with one of his signature Charlie 1 Horse cowboy hats. It was a gesture of appreciation and acknowledgement of everything Gordon has accomplished. But Petty understands better than most that the sport will move forward, just as it did when he stepped out of the car that sunny day in Atlanta. "No matter who you are, you're not strong enough to carry the whole load," Petty said. "He's been a strong leader all these years, but over a period of time, the next crowd comes along and kind of fades them all out. Over a period of time, you go away whether you want to or not." RELATED: Best No. 24 paint schemes Auspicious beginning Gordon won the series' Rookie of the Year title in 1993, competing for the honor against Bobby Labonte , Kenny Wallace and P.J. Jones. Two years later, he won his first championship. It was the era of Dale Earnhardt, the six-time champion chasing Petty's mark of seven titles while blazing new trails. He was "The Intimidator." He was NASCAR. Petty, Earnhardt and then there was Gordon. No one else was as dominant -- between 1995 and '99, Gordon won 47 races. He won Daytona . He won Indy. He won the Winston Million. Had he not come along? "Someone else would have taken that spot," Mike Helton, NASCAR Vice Chairman, said. "I don't know that anybody could have filled it, though. "There's a difference. It's like if the Atlantic Ocean went dry, somebody could figure out how to get water in it, but could they fill that whole ocean? "I think we were very fortunate for Jeff to appear when he did and do what he did along the way to keep our momentum going. It certainly added to the momentum that we had going in that era. We needed a Jeff Gordon and he arose. He came into the sport ... he could have chosen open-wheel racing ... and he would have been massively successful." Why was it Gordon? Why not someone else who stepped up and helped carry the sport forward, who resonated with fans and sponsors? Helton doesn't know. "I know growing up there was a reason I became a big fan of John Wayne. And there were a lot of cowboys on television," he said. "I just think that speaks to Jeff's inclusiveness, and his capabilities extended beyond just being a very successful athlete as a race car driver." There have been issues from time to time, but nothing major, according to Helton, who added, "Of course we've had conversations in which he'd had to write checks afterward." Earnhardt's death in 2001, in the season-opening Daytona 500 , turned the sport upside down. Gordon was one of the few who could help stabilize it in an uncertain time. "I think the whole industry looked at Jeff to take Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s place when we lost Dale," said Helton. "The garage area needed a voice like we've had historically, whether it was Richard Petty or Darrell Waltrip, Dale Sr. ... He got pressure from the industry inside the garage to be that voice. "When that came, along with the championships that preceded that, he understood the need for a league or sanctioning body in order for the athlete to be successful. But he also had a good soapbox to stand on saying 'Look, we need our voice to be heard too.' And I think the respect worked both ways." RELATED: NASCAR Nation honors Gordon with #24ever 'Iron Man' of NASCAR Consecutive starts: 796. It's one more impressive record in Jeff Gordon 's body of work. He's never missed a start, and passed Ricky Rudd for the consecutive starts record earlier this year. Now, only one remains, one final attempt, one final opportunity. Because of the format for NASCAR's championship-determining Chase, Gordon doesn't have to win Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 . He has to finish ahead of only three challengers -- Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) to capture the title. He'll go out a winner regardless of where he finishes. Whether or not he goes out a champion has yet to be determined. Capturing the inaugural Brickyard 400 in '94 has always stood out as his most memorable moment. Until a recent Martinsville victory put him in the Championship 4 here at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The '98 season when he won 13 races, the fourth title in '01 with crew chief Robby Loomis after the departure of mentor Ray Evernham and the '95 crown that was won when he "was going against Earnhardt; that was huge," Gordon said earlier this week. The finality of the moment, though, carries much weight. "My final year, my final race, (wife) Ingrid and the kids," Gordon said. "Kids motivate you in a whole new way, and no matter what we're going to go out and be happy and celebrate. "But to do it as a champion, oh, my gosh, I just can't imagine anything that would be more emotional and more exciting and more gratifying than to look at my wife in the eyes and see that reaction from her when that race is over if we win it." MORE: Drivers offer favorite Gordon memories
RELATED: Full race results " Race recap SHOP: Champion gear In a season fit for the silver screen, Kyle Busch completed his emotional comeback from a devastating season-opening injury to capture his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. Busch took home the 2015 championship by being the top finisher among the Championship 4 drivers, which also included Kevin Harvick , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr ., in the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch led 41 laps on the day and the last seven of the 267-lap event for his first career postseason win as a member of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. "Rowdy" spent much of the race running in the top two and took the lead from Brad Keselowski for good shortly after the Lap 261 restart. Busch then distanced himself from Harvick, the series' 2014 champion, who finished as the runner-up in the race and final standings. Gordon finished sixth in his final race, while Truex finished 12th. "This is just so unbelievable, so amazing and means so much right here, right now and probably will for a long, long time to come," Busch said on the championship stage at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "The opportunity that the amount of people that have poured their life and soul into everything that Kyle Busch does and is about -- from M&M's to Toyota to Snickers and Twix and Skittles, Joe Gibbs (team owner) and his family and all of Joe Gibbs Racing , everyone that gave me such a fast race car here tonight to drive. It was so much fun. "This is just a dream come true and my family, my wife, my son -- to have him this year and to have everything we've gone through this year to be in this moment -- I don't know what else to say, but this is so special." The title makes the Busch brothers -- Kurt won the 2004 championship -- the second pair of brothers in NASCAR to win premier series championships. The Labonte brothers also have accomplished that with Terry winning titles in 1984 and 1996 and Bobby winning in 2000. RELATED: See all the premier series champions The 2015 season started off in a frightening fashion for Busch. A crash in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway left him with a broken right leg and a broken left foot. Busch missed the first 11 points races of the season before returning in the middle of May for the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Matt Crafton , David Ragan and Erik Jones each took turns behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing . NASCAR granted Busch a waiver to make the Chase provided he was able to win a race and crack the top 30 in points before the end of the 26-race regular season at Richmond International Raceway . It took Busch just over a month to find Victory Lane and he did so at Sonoma Raceway, holding off his brother. That sparked a stretch of four wins in five races for the 30-year-old, including three straight wins at Kentucky Speedway , New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway . He nearly pulled off a fourth straight win at Pocono Raceway but ran out of gas on the final lap. RELATED: See all the 2015 winners For the second half of the waiver requirement, Busch cracked the top 30 in points after the race at Watkins Glen International in August and secured his spot in the Chase after the Darlington race, which was the second-to-last race of the regular season. The Chase provided an early test for Busch as a wreck at New Hampshire and a 37th-place finish left him on the outside looking in of advancing to the Contender Round heading to Dover International Speedway . However, he was able to rally to advance with a runner-up finish at the "Monster Mile." Contact with Kyle Larson near the entrance of pit road at Charlotte in the Contender Round opener derailed a promising day for Busch and left him needing strong performances at Kansas Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway to make the Eliminator Round. Busch delivered at both, gaining the spots he needed late at Talladega, which was where he was involved in a wreck the previous year that took him out of the Chase. Busch was a model of consistency in the Eliminator Round with three top-five finishes to advance on points to the Championship 4. The title season was also a big one off the track for Busch as he and wife Samantha welcomed son Brexton in May, just days after Busch's return to competition. During Championship 4 Media Day, Busch and Joe Gibbs revealed that Busch had inked a contract extension days after the news of Mars extension as sponsor on the No. 18 Toyota was announced. The Sprint Cup championship is the first for crew chief Adam Stevens, who was in his first year as a pit boss in the Sprint Cup Series, and the fourth (and first since 2005) for Gibbs. It was also the first Sprint Cup championship for manufacturer Toyota. "We are extremely proud of Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing on winning the Sprint Cup Series driver's championship," said Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. "It's an incredible accomplishment for Kyle, to overcome the adversity he faced this year and come back with the focus and determination he has had to win races, qualify for the Chase and then earn the ultimate prize, his first Sprint Cup Series championship. "Winning this NASCAR championship has been a huge aspiration for Toyota since joining NASCAR in 2004. We are honored to finally be on this stage and join Kyle and Joe Gibbs for our first Sprint Cup Series title." Championship weekend was a banner one for the 30-year-old Busch. In addition to his Sprint Cup championship, Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Erik Jones won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship on Friday night and KBM won the owner's championship in that series.
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."