RELATED: Race results " Final standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- It wasn't the sort of record that Kevin Harvick wanted to break, another runner-up finish in a season full of them with a repeat NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship on the line. Harvick entered Sunday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 as a pre-race favorite and the defending race winner. He was left with his 13th second-place effort of the year, his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet a scant 1.552 seconds behind eventual winner and first-time champion Kyle Busch . The baker's dozen of runner-up performances surpassed the modern-era record formerly held by NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison in the 1972 season. Those oh-so-close finishes -- balanced against three wins in 2015 -- helped him forge into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs with rock-solid consistency, but it wasn't quite enough on Busch's night. "It's been a great couple years, and I know we're disappointed about finishing second tonight, but it's kind of the theme of the year, finishing second," Harvick said. "Unfortunately it's just one short, but all in all, it's been a great couple years, and couldn't be prouder of our bunch of guys." Harvick led once in the race's early stages for 46 of the 267 laps, but struggled to find the handling balance on the 1.5-mile track. "No rear grip. Won't turn," he called out to crew chief Rodney Childers during the sixth of seven caution periods, hoping adjustments could help him regain his previous edge. Childers said he wasn't able to tell if alterations the team made overnight helped the No. 4 car or not, since track conditions were so much different from Saturday practices to Sunday's main event. But he said he's historically fought the same issue -- "tight getting in and too loose off" -- in past visits to the South Florida speedway. "We haven't been able to get a hold of it," Childers said. "It's probably one of our worst race tracks really, but we won last year and finished second this year at a place we feel like we just can't get a hold of. We need to make some changes with our cars and try to do a better job coming down here next year. "All in all, we had a great car and a great season. You look at the wins and the top-fives and the top-twos, and it's pretty incredible what we've been able to do and just really proud of Kevin and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing ." The race's final caution flag with 11 laps left seemed to give Harvick new hope, and he jumped from fourth to second place shortly after the restart. But by then, Busch had swept around late-race leader Brad Keselowski to take command. Post-race, after thanking his team and accepting congratulations from Stewart-Haas teammate Kurt Busch , a trademark smile formed on Harvick's face as he watched the 30-year-old Busch celebrate on the main stage -- seeing a little bit of his 2014 self in the No. 18 team's jubilation. It's a scenario that played out for Harvick last season, but was just one elusive position away. "I think when you race your whole life and you accomplish what you've raced for your whole life, it's exciting," Harvick said of Busch's first Sprint Cup championship. "I've been fortunate to experience that last year and know that feeling and know how gratifying that is. You know, it's fun to see that excitement. "He broke his leg at Daytona, and to come back from everything that he came back from, it's like I told you guys three or four days ago, I mean, there's four phenomenal stories that were sitting up on the stage, probably three that were much more exciting than mine, but that's a great comeback story from where he was after Daytona." WATCH: 'Dream come true' for Ky. Busch
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
For one day only, Phoenix International Raceway will change its name to Jeff Gordon Raceway as a tribute to the four-time NASCAR champ's final season and last race in the Arizona desert. His name may not be hanging above the gate on race day Sunday, but thanks to a recent run of smashing success, the 1-mile track may as well be Kevin Harvick 's house. The dominance of a four-race Phoenix win streak makes Harvick a heavy favorite heading into Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM), the next-to-last race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. The 312-lap event will whittle the field of title-eligible drivers from eight to four ahead of the Nov. 22 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Harvick's status as Phoenix's stone-cold lock has traction, with Chase rival Kyle Busch proclaiming after last Sunday's event in Texas: "I do not think it's a winnable race until Kevin Harvick gets beat." Only Gordon's spot among the final four is secure, thanks to his victory at Martinsville. If Harvick is such a certainty, are the remaining six Chasers vying for a solid points day and hoping for the best? The jury is still out. "All reigns come to an end," title contender Brad Keselowski said during a test last month at the 1-mile track. "Every driver has had a track that he dominates on and it changes. Jimmie (Johnson) dominated here for a long time and obviously that's not been that case as of late. The way you beat somebody or break that domination is you go out, you go to work and you try to do better." Harvick's track history since 2012 is unparalleled. He has scored seven of his 31 Sprint Cup wins at Phoenix and has led more than two-thirds of the laps in his most recent three victories. Last season, Harvick led 264 of 312 laps to springboard into the final race at Homestead, where he roared to his first Sprint Cup crown in the first year of the new-look Chase format. This season, Harvick sits third in the standings -- five rungs up from last year's cellar-dweller position entering the semifinal race. Despite the potential for reduced urgency from the Stewart-Haas No. 4 camp, Harvick's rivals aren't expecting any let-up. "We look at the points situation and guarantee Harvick winning that race," Busch said, referencing a Harvick "stranglehold" on Phoenix. "Then you have to figure out who you're racing after that to know what you have to do in order to point your way through. If we can go out there and win the race, then we will. As far as we're concerned, that's how we look at it." Four drivers still in the title hunt -- Gordon, Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr . -- participated in an Oct. 14 open test at Phoenix, experimenting with some rules under the 2016 configuration, but keeping the primary focus on preparing for a pivotal race in the Chase. Neither Kyle Busch nor Carl Edwards -- title contenders both -- attended, but teammate Matt Kenseth gathered extensive data to be shared among Joe Gibbs Racing 's four-car effort. Practice, qualifying and the race will tell whether any of the extra rehearsal will make a dent in Harvick's hot streak, altering the complexion of the Chase. Jimmie Johnson -- who's had his own dominant stretches at Dover and Martinsville over the course of his career -- knows it won't be easy, despite how Harvick has made it look. "Anybody with a streak at a particular track, you've got to show up with realistic expectations but enough swagger knowing it's a track that's good for you, then go get it done," Johnson said after last weekend's victory at Texas Motor Speedway . "It's so hard to make it through an entire weekend, make it through an entire race. We saw the flat tires today, mechanical issues, racing issues that can pop up. "Phoenix is a tight little scrappy race track. The streak with four wins in a row is impressive. That's not an easy place to get it done."
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Former Daytona 500 champions Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are among the drivers that will appear at Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 20-21. Preseason Thunder returns in 2011 as Sprint Cup Series drivers will take to the new asphalt at Daytona in a three-day test session Jan. 20-22. Test and Fest set at Daytona Expectations and excitement Order all your Daytona tickets Tickets for Preseason Thunder Fan Fest are $20 and available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. Ticket-holders for the 2011 Daytona 500 and children 12 and under will receive free admission. Advanced reservations are available (limited to 250 people) for special autograph sessions to be held with participating 2010 Chase drivers and Daytona 500 champions. Additional driver autograph sessions will be held on both days with wristbands available the day of the event. To request access to the special autograph sessions, race fans can call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit the Daytona International Speedway ticket office beginning at 9 a.m. ET Saturday. In addition to viewing the on-track activity from the Sprint FanZone, fans can watch each day's testing at no cost from a section of the Oldfield Grandstands near Turn 4. Drivers currently scheduled to make appearances on Jan. 20, beginning at 6 p.m. ET, are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr. and Regan Smith. Scheduled to appear on Jan. 21, during the 5-7 p.m. ET session are Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, David Reutimann, Casey Mears, Jeff Burton, Joey Logano, Kevin Conway , Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman. In the 7-9 p.m. ET session, drivers scheduled to appear are McMurray, Gordon, A.J. Allmendinger , Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Juan Montoya, Marcos Ambrose and Matt Kenseth. Lastly, race fans will be able to camp in the infield at Daytona for free with their admission ticket during the three-day test inside Turns 3 and 4. Sites will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Gates to the infield will open at 8 a.m. ET on Jan. 20. Among the activities planned for both days include: interactive driver question-and-answer sessions on the main stage; show cars, displays, music; photo opportunity with the Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophy; and blood drive outside the Turn 4 tunnel. The Roar Before the Rolex 24, the tune-up session for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series teams in advance of the 49th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, is set for Jan. 7-9. Tickets are $15 daily for the Roar Before the Rolex 24, with driver fan forums, tech talks and pit stop demonstrations slated for Saturday. ticket-holders for the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona and children 12 and under will receive free admission. Tickets for both the Preseason Thunder Fan Fests and the Roar Before the Rolex 24 are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
RELATED: Starting lineup " Live weather updates " See the 43-car field And then there were four. Kevin Harvick , Kyle Busch , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr . will be vying for the Sprint Cup Series title in a few hours at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBC). But there's plenty happening in the garage before then -- after all, it is championship weekend. NASCAR.com will be keeping a live blog covering all the Homestead action. So, check back right here for periodic updates throughout the day. 4:45 p.m. ET: Thanks for tuning into NASCAR.com's live blog from Homestead. Turn on NBC for the start of the season finale Ford EcoBoost 400 . 4:27 p.m. ET: The command has been given. Getting ready! Here we go. #TheChase https://t.co/CRZiAsagNx — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 4:19 p.m. ET: Counting down the minutes until race time. Getting closer to the championship race. #Nascar pic.twitter.com/kPO2pCDbnU — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) November 22, 2015 4:04 p.m. ET: Everyone wants to get a glismpe of Jeff Gordon . . @JeffGordonWeb has a posse. #SquadGoals pic.twitter.com/u02jsVPVo0 — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 3:55 p.m. ET: One of these four drivers will be hoisting the 2015 Sprint Cup Series trophy above their heads. The #Championship4 pic.twitter.com/7TWik5wJOl — Kelly Crandall (@KellyCrandall) November 22, 2015 3:51 p.m. ET: One last time at driver intros for Jeff Gordon . Reporting for the final time! #24ever https://t.co/00i4FxHxsB — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 3:30 p.m. ET: Driver introductions are now underway on NBC. 3:15 p.m. ET: Getting closer! Driver Intros scheduled for 3:30 now :) #NASCAR — Holly Cain (@_HollyCain) November 22, 2015 3:02 p.m. ET: Just awesome. A special moment between racing legends, @JeffGordonWeb & @MarioAndretti . #24Ever pic.twitter.com/WvXfrq0AWo — NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) November 22, 2015 2:43 p.m. ET: Stay with us, folks -- the radar for the rest of the day looks promising! Per @NASCAR , start of race on hold due to rain. — tom jensen (@tomjensen100) November 22, 2015 2:25 p.m. ET: The real MVPs of NASCAR are gearing up. Air Titans are being staged at the entrance of Turn 3. #NASCAR — Chris Knight (@Knighter01) November 22, 2015 2:15 p.m. ET: Driver introductions -- which were set to begin at 2:20 p.m. ET -- are on hold due to rain. 2:10 p.m. ET : Rain, rain stay away. Shower was over after 5 minutes. Steady wind keeping clouds moving quickly over the track. #nascar — Nate Ryan (@nateryan) November 22, 2015 2:03 p.m. ET: Coincidence or premonition? Look close and you'll see it. A rainbow near @HomesteadMiami :) #24ever // @NASCARONFOX pic.twitter.com/v4gM93OQAj — Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) November 22, 2015 2 p.m. ET: That's a sharp-looking group. And they've all assembled -- the #Championship4 pic.twitter.com/8MKrOh0WjJ — Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverSBN) November 22, 2015 1:28 p.m. ET: Man, Jeff Gordon has some cool friends. So proud to call you a friend @JeffGordonWeb . You are a legend and an inspiration. Go real fast today buddy. #24ever — Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) November 22, 2015 1:05 p.m. ET: Rollin' on out. Takin' her to the grid. #Championship4 pic.twitter.com/9FIMeLdSl7 — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 12:46 p.m. ET: Danica Patrick pays a classy tribute to Jeff Gordon . #24ever pic.twitter.com/L2Bi8bsA0n — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) November 22, 2015 12:33 p.m. ET: One last driver's meeting for the 2015 season, set to begin at 1 p.m. ET. Early scene at @HomesteadMiami drivers' meeting with "Round and Round" by Ratt as the soundtrack. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/Loa1Px3Vq9 — Zack Albert (@zack_albert) November 22, 2015 12:27 p.m. ET: Rodney Childers makes sure the No. 4 car is in tip-top shape for today. #NASCAR ... @RodneyChilders4 oversees final work on Kevin Harvick 's car. @NASCARonNBC pic.twitter.com/hQEPjRl9tz — Dustin Long (@dustinlong) November 22, 2015 11:51 a.m. ET: Guess who's back at the track? from the @Minions ! #Minions pic.twitter.com/rYN7dkhvt4 — Homestead-Miami (@HomesteadMiami) November 22, 2015 11:48 a.m. ET: #24ever. "How could I not be enjoying this? I'm having the time of my life. It's unbelievable." - @JeffGordonWeb on @FS1 's #NASCAR #RaceDay . — Jay W. Pennell (@jaywpennell) November 22, 2015 11:45 a.m. ET: Full house behind Jeff Gordon for his FS1 Race Day cameo this morning. . @JeffGordonWeb has arrived @FS1 and these fans are very happy about that! #24ever pic.twitter.com/l1dJd7pPxc — Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) November 22, 2015 10:56 a.m. ET: Um, Ricky, Texas was two weeks ago. The footwear of choice in Miami is flip-flops. Breaking out some new @tonylama today. pic.twitter.com/j3UXRjNpTj — Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (@StenhouseJr) November 22, 2015 10:12 a.m. ET: We're liking the looks of these sunny skies! Blue sky, red carpet. @HomesteadMiami pic.twitter.com/SAZTaM0Lig — Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) November 22, 2015 10:09 a.m. ET: The No. 48 team got a special visit from country superstar Tim McGraw this morning. . @thetimmcgraw stopping by the 48 hauler. pic.twitter.com/BmlCJDMKtX — Team Lowe's Racing (@LowesRacing) November 22, 2015 9:49 a.m. ET: Drivers like Dale Jr., media and even former President Clinton took to Twitter to wish Jeff Gordon well-wishes and share their favorite No. 24 memories. Check out all the messages here . It's been great racing with you, and learning from you. Great competitor and exceptional ambassador for @NASCAR . pic.twitter.com/KMmdAiVIWn — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) November 22, 2015 9:22 a.m. ET: A little elbow grease to accompany morning coffee for the four championship contenders' teams. Rise and grind. #TheChase https://t.co/lFAWeQ8DYl — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015
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.
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: See the full weekend schedule " NBC Sports Live Extra All times ET Monday, Nov. 23 6 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN 8 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN Noon, NASCAR 120, NBCSN 5:30 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 5:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 3 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FS2 Tuesday, Nov. 24 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 2 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FS2 Wednesday, Nov. 25 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 5:30 p.m., Uncompromising: Kevin Harvick (re-air), FS1 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 3 a.m., Best of NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FS2 Thursday, Nov. 26 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN Sunday, Nov. 29 7 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Award Show (tape), NBCSN &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;nbsp;
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.
The No. 18 Toyota of Kyle Busch had been good all day, but with 10 laps to go in Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway a caution came out and the hopes for a championship rested in the arms of the pit crew. It was written in our earlier assessment of the final four pit crews that the No. 18 team had been the best in the clutch in the last five years -- and they proved it again. The No. 18 came in the pits in third place and left in second. Why is that such a big deal? Because it put him on the front row racing Brad Keselowski for the lead and in clean air as opposed to being in the second row with fellow Championship 4 driver Kevin Harvick right behind him. When you get in traffic, anything can happen and Harvick could have used that traffic to try and maneuver past Busch. But by gaining the one spot on the last stop it helped Busch get on the front row and win his first championship in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. For the record, we timed that stop at 11.21 seconds. Congrats to all the No. 18 car personnel and especially the pit crew: Pit Coaches: Mike Lepp and Paul Alepa Front Changer: Josh Lesley Front Carrier: Brad Donaghy Jack Man: Jeff Fender Rear Changer: Jake Seminara Rear Carrier: Kenny Barber Gas Man: Tom Lampe For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .