The top 5 drivers along with an upset Dale Earnhardt Jr. give post-race comments.
RELATED: Race results " See who advanced, who was eliminated post-Phoenix AVONDALE, Ariz. -- For Kurt Busch , the high hopes for a second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title were dented almost before they started Sunday, the result of a first-lap penalty for jumping the initial drop of the green flag at Phoenix International Raceway . For the 2004 champ and three other drivers on an odd, rainy Sunday, there would be no sun in the Arizona desert and no safe passage to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Round next Sunday. Rain brought an early halt to a NASCAR premier-series event for only the second time in 39 races at the 1-mile track, leaving 93 laps on the board and four drivers wondering what could have been over the final stretch. Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski both entered the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 in essentially must-win situations to clinch a berth in the season finale next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway ; Logano wound up two positions short and Keselowski missed it by eight. Edwards just needed a better points day than the three drivers ahead of him; he fell short by five points, telling his crew "they can't let it end like this" as the curtain-closing showers intensified. The sour taste was perhaps most pungent for Busch, who started in second place but was just inches ahead of pole-sitter Jimmie Johnson once the race started -- nearly seven hours late and with Busch ruled just a split second too soon. "That wasn't a penalty," said Busch, who wound up seventh of the eight title hopefuls after the Eliminator Round cutoff. "That's a reason to start a survey and right now, I encourage everybody to go onto Twitter, my Facebook, my Instagram and follow it, and we're all going to have a survey." Restarts -- an increasingly intriguing topic in the second half of the season -- were again on the front burner in the pre-race drivers' meeting, with four-time champion Jeff Gordon asking if the second-place car could beat the leading "control" car to the start-finish line. The social media jury may still be out, but a NASCAR spokesperson said the ruling was a procedural penalty that race officials stand behind. "Who knows, man?" said Tony Gibson, crew chief of Busch's Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevy. "We've seen guys all year long do that, so it's … I don't know. It's the most inconsistent thing I've ever seen, so it is what it is. We'll just deal with it and go on. "We definitely had a car to win. Just didn't happen. We'll be all right." Busch protested over the radio once the penalty was announced after a brief review, and he eventually served his penalty on Lap 8, stripped of leading the opening laps and left to rally from last place to an eventual seventh-place result. Despite his dismay, Busch was able to find positives in the way his scrappy team responded to its tumultuous season. "I had a great season. We won two races, sat on three poles," Busch said. "We did everything possible to put polish on a season like this and get out there with elbow grease and work hard at it. There's some tarnish that's sitting there. Polish and polish and polish -- that's all I kept doing this whole year." The others dealt with a mixed bag of misfortune, either coming out on the wrong end of a final caution flag that interrupted a green-flag cycle of pit stops and ultimately propelled Dale Earnhardt Jr . to victory, or failing to make up ground on runner-up Kevin Harvick , whose dominance during a four-race Phoenix win streak ended despite leading 143 of the 219 laps. Logano spent the majority of his day among the top five, but couldn't escape the deficit caused by Matt Kenseth 's intentional crash at Martinsville in the round opener. He left Phoenix last among the final eight, but still able to savor a six-win season. "I'm proud of what this team's done," Logano said moments before the race was abbreviated. "We've had amazing runs throughout the year, we've been consistently fast. We showed it again tonight that we've got really good speed in our cars. Our team doesn't make mistakes and it's something I'm very proud of. Today is obviously a high-pressure situation for everyone, and everyone's just been loose and acting like it was a normal day. Couldn't be more proud of this team either way, no matter what happens. I really wanted to get another shot, so we can wait and see." Keselowski, also caught up in one of the Martinsville run-ins, was sixth among the final eight -- a distant 13 points behind final championship qualifier Martin Truex Jr . "I don't think it matters what's fair," Keselowski said when asked about the early end to the next-to-last race of the season. "What matters is what entertains the fans, and if the fans are happy, that's what it's all about." Edwards was vocal on his team radio in his desire to restart the race, potentially waiting out another delay under the lights. The ending left him 12th in the race and fifth in the Eliminator Round standings, five points behind Truex. "How hard they've worked all year to come down to something as simple as a rainout," said Grubb, in his fourth year with Joe Gibbs Racing . "We feel like we could have raced our way back in there and had a shot at it. We were still five points out, just like we were five points coming in. We knew that was going to be a tough situation, but it ended up that it bit us and I just hate it for these guys. I'm very proud to have had a championship in the past and I wanted to help bring one to these guys who have worked so hard for 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.
NASCAR.com sits down with your 2015 Sprint Cup Series Champion crew chief, Adam Stevens, as he looks back on a whirlwind season where he helped lead Kyle Busch to his first Sprint Cup title.
Miss Coors Light, Amanda Mertz, catches up with Denny Hamlin after he won his third Coors Light Pole Award of the 2015, allowing him to lead the field to green in the season finale.
RELATED: Race results " Final standings " Race recap HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Martin Truex Jr . and his Furniture Row Racing bunch didn't mind the perception as the clear underdogs among the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship contenders. It didn't mean they were content just to be among the elite final four. Despite his team trying alternate strategies and working to find finesse on a finicky track, Truex's bid for his first premier-series crown fell short Sunday with a 12th-place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway , leaving him fourth in the final Sprint Cup standings. "The odds were against us, for sure," said Truex, who led just three of the 267 laps. "You know, obviously really proud of everybody, like I said, and you know, we didn't come here saying we were going to be OK finishing fourth. We came here and really tried everything in our power, everything we knew how to do, to put together our best performance. It just wasn't in the cards for us." Truex's best season in NASCAR's top division came to an unsatisfying end, fraught with handling woes as the race transferred from daytime to nightfall. "This is frustrating, man. We're terrible," Truex told crew chief Cole Pearn after the No. 78 Chevrolet failed to break back into the top 10 after the team's next-to-last pit stop. It was the theme of the night for several teams battling their car's temperament, but few had as much at stake as the Colorado-based single-car team. "For whatever reason, we just didn't have a good handle on it from the time we started race practice yesterday," Pearn said. "I don't know. Something about this car or what for this track, I don't know. Mile-and-a-halfs have definitely been our strong suit and for whatever reason, we could not move the needle all weekend. "The race was what it was. We tried to make the best of it and threw everything we could at it, but it just wasn't our weekend by any means." An omen might've come during a Lap 137 pit stop, when a fluke spark from a lug nut on the left-rear tire change triggered a flash fire, keeping the fueler from filling the tank. The team recovered, thanks to a quick yellow flag that followed, but the handling issues persisted. WATCH: Truex's car catches on fire during pit stop With the team struggling to gain ground, Pearn gambled on a two-tire stop during the next-to-last yellow flag when the rest of the title contenders took four. The call for track position vaulted the No. 78 to the lead on Lap 169, but the strategy backfired as Truex dropped through the running order on the ensuing long green-flag stretch. "We were just trying -- we had to try something," Truex said. "We weren't getting anywhere. We made just about every adjustment we could possibly make on our race car and never really seemed like we could find that speed, so we were just taking some gambles. We did two early and it worked out for us pretty well. We did two later on and the race went green longer than we had hoped and we probably lost two spots because of it. "But I think all in all at the end of the day, net‑net, we kind of ended up where we should have. We just didn't have the speed, so we were trying to gamble on some things and trying to get some track position any way we could, just couldn't hang onto it." Despite any possible letdown in the finale, the team celebrated plenty of firsts. Truex and Furniture Row each savored their highest season-long finish in NASCAR's premier series, with Truex setting career-bests in top-five finishes, top-10 finishes and laps led -- all under the guidance of a rookie crew chief. "I'm extremely proud," Pearn said. "I mean, we won a race, had 22 top 10s, we finished fourth in points. If you'd told me that at the start of the year, I would've been very, very, very pleased. The good thing is, I'm really excited about our future. We're heading into a really good place with some good partners down the road and put this team in a spot that they've never been in before. Tremendous amount of things to be pleased for and really looking forward to the future." The future for the Barney Visser-owned team may keep the upward trend going. The team will likely return all key personnel and will shift from longtime manufacturer Chevrolet to Toyota in the offseason, aligning itself with Joe Gibbs Racing , this year's title-winning organization with driver Kyle Busch . Momentum from this season may also help as the team tries to do one better in 2016. RELATED: Furniture Row's Toyota move among several changes in Cup for '16 "I think this is great motivation for us for next year," Truex said. "I think that with the things we have coming and going to Toyota and teaming up with JGR and all that stuff, I think the future is bright for this team, and we're keeping all our guys together, and hopefully this is our first season battling for a championship but not our last. I really feel strong that this is a special group of guys, and if we can keep that together for hopefully the rest of my career, I'd love to drive for them. "We'll just have to wait and see what happens. You never know what the future holds, but excited already about next year, and I think we'll be back here in mid‑December testing already for next year. Not a whole lot of rest, and (I'm) looking forward to spending a week or so down here relaxing and having a few beers, catching a few fish and really just let it all soak in what we've been able to accomplish, and really proud of everybody on our team."
RELATED: Full race results " Miami race recap SHOP: Champion gear Tuesday: Media Day 2 Early Tuesday morning, Busch made appearances on "FOX and Friends" and "Live! With Kelly and Michael." "Rowdy" caught up with Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan and discussed his wild year: injuries, his 2015 championship and 6-month-old son, Brexton. That @mmschocolate Toyota is looking good . Having fun at @foxandfriends . #RowdyNation pic.twitter.com/QNd7d0vgER — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) November 24, 2015 Kyle also made a stop at SiriusXM and is heading to Facebook and ESPN later today. Monday: Media Day 1 After securing his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Busch is making the media rounds to talk about his epic victory and comeback from injuries sustained at Daytona in the XFINITY Series opener. Busch capped off his Monday appearances by taking in the Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Me and my boy@bjanitz18 w the Patriots @espnmondaynight #Champ18ns pic.twitter.com/NA3kamdfMq — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) November 24, 2015 Prior to that, the 30-year-old taped an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" that aired Monday night on CBS. The Sprint Cup champion and Colbert engaged in a Pinewood Derby race, titled "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Cinnamon Toast Crunch 400 ." Watch the video to see who won. Busch also taped a promo spot for "The Late Show" disclosing a different type of personal dream. Earlier Monday, Busch joined "The Dan Patrick Show" Monday morning to chat -- from his airplane somewhere "over Washington, D.C." nonetheless -- about the celebration, which started for him about seven hours after the checkered flag fell. "We did all of our photos; that takes quite a long time," Busch said. "I'm glad the race was actually over around 7, 7:30 because we were still taking photos and finally got done about 2 a.m. or so. My team guys were having a good old time. They were lit up a little bit so I joined them for a little while and continued on with them for some more celebration before getting a couple hours of sleep to get on an airplane this morning." Busch's long road to recovery certainly helped him flex his focus muscle -- but he did get a little help from something else in the closing laps of Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 . "The last 60 laps or so, I kept thinking to myself … 'oh, man, this is going to be cool; this is awesome.' But then I was like, 'dude, you've got 60 to go; stop thinking about it.,' " Busch said. "So I just had to start singing a child's song. One of my kid's (Brexton) favorite TV shows, it's a 3-minute little skit … it's called 'Vocabulary' and I was just kind of singing the intro song to that in my head and just trying to make laps." Busch's tour on Monday also included appearances on ESPN's SportsCenter, FS1 RaceHub and NBCSN's NASCAR America. Early Tuesday morning, Busch made appearances on FOX and Friends and Live! With Kelly and Michael. And will be making stops at SiriusXM, Facebook and ESPN. Early Tuesday morning, Busch made appearances on FOX and Friends and Live! With Kelly and Michael. And will be making stops at SiriusXM, Facebook and ESPN.
Watch a condensed version of the Ford EcoBoost 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway, which concluded the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and was the final race of Jeff Gordon’s historic career.
NASCAR.com’s Jonathan Merryman recaps the Ford EcoBoost 400 as Kyle Busch clinches his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship and Jeff Gordon races for the final time at Homestead-Miami Speedway.