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: Full race results " Final standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- To go fast, all Kyle Busch had to do was mash the gas pedal. To go faster, all he had to do was slow down. Had to slow down. No choice there. Busch "got in a fight" with an unprotected, concrete wall at Daytona before the season's first Sprint Cup Series race. He lost. Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway , he won. The road to the Sprint Cup title is a curious one. They say the 30-year-old Busch is a "changed" man -- actually, the word often used is "matured" -- and I hope that's only partly true. It's the competitive fire in Busch that pushes him to dance with a race car on the very edge. Occasionally, the results are disastrous; often, though, they are a thing of beauty. Busch didn't compete in all 36 points races this season, but for reasons out of his control. A broken right leg and a left foot that gave new meaning to the word "fractured" took care of that. For nearly 12 weeks, Busch idled. Idle is not a speed to which the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is accustomed. One doesn't win 154 races across three series by idling. A bed-ridden Busch had to sit and watch as three other drivers climbed into his No. 18 Toyota. It's been said that nothing hurts a racer more than seeing someone else in his car. Rehab was painful; sitting on the sidelines was agonizing. Potential wins were slipping by him on the television screen. When he finally did make it back to the track, no one knew what to expect, least of all Busch. Sure, he was confident. His crew chief, Adam Stevens, and car owner, Joe Gibbs, were confident. But no one was certain. No one knew if a broken leg and fractured foot were the only real injuries Busch suffered in Daytona several months earlier. Maybe the "want to" was still there, but the question was, could he? Could he still feel every nuance of the car as it rocketed around a race track? Could he push it to the very edge, find the sliver of an opening that existed only briefly, and charge his way through the field? Not only could Busch still do those things, but in some ways he did them better. Only six weeks after his return, Busch was back in the winner's circle, victorious at, of all places, Sonoma Raceway . In little more than a month's time, he won three consecutive races and four of five. Nearly as telling was his performance in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . The format, tweaked from time to time, has always dealt hefty penalties for miscues with little or no time to recover, and Busch has had his share. This time, he navigated the minefield that stretched from Chicago to Homestead with minimal damage. If Busch has changed, so has his approach, something he called a "just let everything be" tactic. It's a short phrase that speaks volumes about his confidence in himself and his team. Changed? Maybe. Maybe hitting a concrete wall and starting a family and sitting on the sidelines had an effect on him after all. Slowing down wasn't a part of the plan. But in the end, that's what it took. And Busch, the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, is just fine with that.
The deal will marks 10 years of sponsorship with the Sonoma track
Actor and former California Governor will pilot 2016 Toyota Mirai Leading the field to green for the Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, June 28 will be actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The actor, whose new film "Terminator Genisys" comes out July 1, will be piloting a 2016 Toyota Mirai while leading the 43-car field at the road course. The Toyota Mirai is a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle that emits only water from its exhaust. This is not only Schwarzenegger's first time as a official pace car driver, but it will be the first hydrogen fuel vehicle used as a pace car at Sonoma . "I can't wait to drive the pace car at Sonoma ," Schwarzenegger said in a press release. "It will be an honor to lead these fantastic athletes and champions around the raceway , and on top of it, I get to drive a car that is both powerful and green." During the former governor's time in office, Schwarzenegger established California's Hydrogen Highway -- the nation's first network for hydrogen fueling stations. Tune into the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday, June 28 at 3 p.m. ET with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Gordon comes up short in final race in home state SONOMA , Calif. -- The finality of his last race at Sonoma Raceway -- his last NASCAR event in his home state of California -- hit home for Jeff Gordon before the engine ever fired on his No. 24 Chevrolet Sunday. Pre-race commemorations and a rousing welcome from a healthy crowd in driver introductions drove the point home. During the race itself, though, the deeper personal significance was secondary to the heat of the battle and what the result meant to his final championship run. "It would've been emotional if I was over in Victory Lane," Gordon joked as Kyle Busch celebrated his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season. "Coming into today, seeing all the 24 flags, driver introductions was kind of overwhelming and it was cool. I hadn't really thought about it since then. You get in the race and you get so focused on the race that you don't think about anything other than just trying to get the best finish that you can, but I've got a lot of friends and family out here and they're here because this is my last race here. That means a lot to me, and then a good day overall other than we didn't get a better finish." The four-time champion's Golden State swan song in Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 featured a little taste of everything -- a flat tire, a pit-road penalty, a major handling adjustment and a bold strategy play from crew chief Alan Gustafson near the finish. The composite result was a 16th-place finish for Gordon, who couldn't overcome the combination of factors to make his Sonoma farewell sweeter. Gordon spent most of the 110-lap race's first half among the top five, but he pitted the No. 24 Chevy on Lap 51 as his handling began to deteriorate. As he returned to the track, his Hendrick Motorsports crew told him that the left-front tire was cut and low on air pressure. "Still something's not right, but I'll make the best of it," Gordon answered through the team radio. But the car's feel didn't drastically improve, and by Lap 76 during the race's third caution period, Gustafson took the time for an extra-long pit stop to remove the No. 24's spring rubbers to emulate the setup of Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson , who wound up leading the most laps Sunday. "That's the opposite of what we usually race here," Gustafson said of the altered setup. "The stuff we had unfortunately wasn't very good today and we improved it. Just part of the exercise was learning to see what we were off on. We had a flat left-front during the middle of the race which got us behind. If we wouldn't have had that, we could've executed and kept our car up front and probably got a top-10, but just rough right now. Got to fight through it." Whether it was the effect of the lengthy stop or the subsequent penalty to his team for throwing equipment over the pit wall, the visit left Gordon at the back of the pack in 26th place for the restart that followed. Gordon inched back into the top 20, but when the race's final yellow flag emerged with 11 laps remaining, Gustafson opted to keep his driver on the track to help him move up the leaderboard. Gordon lined up third for the seven-lap sprint to the finish, but wasn't able to make the gained ground pay off. He slipped to his 16th-place finishing position on well-worn tires. "I just tried to make something happen there at the end and who knows, we may have lost a spot or two because of it," Gustafson said, "but trying to make a big reward, it didn't work out that way. That's part of it. You've got to try. You can't just sit on it." The bigger reward beyond Sunday's checkered flag would be the virtually automatic berth into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs that accompanies it. Busch was the latest to potentially punch his ticket, though he'll need to finish the regular season in the top 30 in Sprint Cup driver points to officially enter playoff contention. The turn of events left Gordon in the 14th of 16 spots on the provisional Chase gird, third-best of the five winless drivers this season who are in playoff position. With 10 races remaining before the Chase field is set, Gordon said it's too early to let scoreboard-watching or panic alter the No. 24 team's approach. "We're just trying to go out and perform the best we can every weekend," Gordon said. "I've always said, it's not about making the Chase, it's about being a factor in the Chase, and while there is meaning to being in it, we want to be more than just in it. So we've got some improving to do, we know that. We're working on it. I really thought we were going to be good today, and I don't know how good Kyle really was, but he certainly was good when it counted at the end." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See the look he will sport for first road course race of 2015 Stewart-Haas Racing unveiled the patriotic look Kevin Harvick will be sporting for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28 (3 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, PRN, SiriusXM). Harvick's No. 4 Outback/Budweiser Chevrolet will have the Folds of Honor Foundation logo and wording on the hood of the car for the first road course race of the Sprint Cup Series season. The Bakersfield, California native has three top fives and five top 10s in 14 starts at Sonoma . REVEAL: Retweet if you love @KevinHarvick 's No. 4 @Outback / @Budweiser Chevy that will race in June at @RaceSonoma . pic.twitter.com/FCIMputxUd — Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) June 2, 2015
Busch brothers finish 1-2 at California road course RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " SHOP: Busch gear SONOMA , Calif. -- Check the box. Kyle Busch has a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. That simple statement hardly plumbs the depth of emotion Kyle Busch was feeling after winning Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway . In the first-ever 1-2 finish in the series by the Busch brothers, Kyle Busch beat Kurt Busch to the finish line by .532 seconds to win for the first time since returning from an 11-race absence because of a broken right leg and left foot sustained in a Feb. 21 accident at Daytona International Speedway. "First Busch brothers 1-2, boys," Kyle Busch exulted on his radio after taking the checkered flag. "Mom and Dad should be proud." On Lap 106 of 110, Kyle Busch muscled Jimmie Johnson out of the way and took the lead on the way to his second victory at the 1.99-mile road course and the 30th of his career. Johnson had stayed out on old tires while Busch joined a parade to pit road for new rubber after the left rear wheel assembly separated from Casey Mears Chevrolet to cause the fifth and final caution of the race on Lap 99. Johnson led the field to a restart on Lap 104, but the cars with fresh tires soon asserted their superiority, with Kurt Busch , Clint Bowyer , reigning series champion Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano all following Kyle Busch in putting the six-time champion behind them. Kyle Busch restarted seventh and got past Bowyer, the eventual third-place finisher, soon thereafter in heavy traffic at the top of the hill in Turn 2. Two laps later, he passed Johnson for the lead. All told, 46 races had passed since Kyle Busch last went to Victory Lane in NASCAR's premier series, including the 11 he missed because of the Daytona injuries. Busch last won at Fontana, Calif., on Mar. 23, 2014. The victory extends his streak of winning at least one race per year to 11 years. More significant, the triumph gives Busch the first element he needs to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Busch also must finish in the top 30 in the series standings after 26 races in order to maintain his eligibility for NASCAR's playoff. With the win, Busch gained two positions in the standings to 37th, 136 points behind 30th-place Cole Whit with 10 races left in the regular season. "Yeah, we have our work cut out for us," he said. "We knew we did in the beginning (after returning to competition five races ago), and I knew we put us in the hole in points. It's unfortunate that we've had a couple crashes (in recent events at Dover and Michigan). "As much as I can do, that's what we're going to do. Adam Stevens, this is his first win as a Cup crew chief, so this is pretty special. My wife is here, she flew in this morning. So it's awesome to have her with us today. Brexton (Busch's newborn son) is at home, though. He didn't want to fly six hours, so we let him stay at home this time. This is so cool." Kurt Busch led a race-high 43 laps but spent too much time getting past Bowyer in the closing laps to have a realistic chance to catch his brother. But his disappointment at finishing second was trumped by empathy for the ordeal Kyle has endured this season. "It was emotional," Kurt Busch acknowledged. "I know he's been through quite a bit; to have your leg broken, your foot shattered, to never (before) be injured and out of the car ... I don't know what that feels like, but I do know that working with Tony Stewart and having him go through rehab, rehab is very difficult, and it is a mental challenge. "And I'm very proud of Kyle for what he's done to get back in the car as soon as he did get back in the car, and then to be competitive at a track with hard, hard braking and to use his left foot to drive to victory lane, I'm very proud of him." Then Kurt's competitive juices took over, and he added, tongue-in-cheek, "I just wish I could have one more lap to get to his bumper, but I think he didn't want to see an extra lap." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 83 Toyota gets into mess with a clean-up truck during caution RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings SONOMA , Calif. -- With all the rough-and-tumble action typically associated with NASCAR competition on road courses, Sprint Cup Series drivers have come to expect at least a little beating and banging over the flow of an afternoon. On Sunday for Matt DiBenedetto , the contact at Sonoma Raceway came from a least expected source. A late-race collision with a clean-up truck on pit road looped DiBenedetto's No. 83 Toyota around during the final caution period in the Toyota/Save Mart 350, igniting a string of disbelieving communications over the BK Racing team radio. With his car righted, DiBenedetto rallied to regain seven spots he lost in the spin to secure 29th in the final order. After the race, the former NASCAR Next driver could only shrug and laugh about the turn of events. "On that last pit stop, we'd come in and it was a mess to start with, with the clean-up truck and everybody in the way, but that truck was going slow enough to where I could go around him. Then as I was going around him, he sped up," DiBenedetto said. "Got on the gas right as when I'm coming around him and cleaned us out. I guess he wasn't just paying attention or didn't see us -- not sure exactly why. I mean, it cost us quite a few spots, but then we drove back as far as we could. … It didn't really hurt us much other than maybe a spot, but definitely pretty funny. I don't think I've ever seen that before." If there was such a thing as a Hippocratic Oath among safety vehicles, the fender-bender seemed to break the bond. It was also a suitably zany capper to a road-course race that served up a little bit of everything. "Of all people to get wrecked by, no race car," DiBenedetto said. And I got dumped by a clean up truck that decided he wanted to get right in the way of our pit stops and be blind lol it was kind of funny — Matthew DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) June 29, 2015 FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Polesitter credited with leading one lap at road course RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Polesitter AJ Allmendinger looked to be contending for the win in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway when he began to feel that something was wrong with his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet. "It is what it is. We're done here," Allmendinger radioed to his crew. "We ain't gonna make it much longer." Turns out he was losing fuel pressure and was fearful the engine was going to expire. He pitted at Lap 61 and the crew lifted the hood to see what the problem was. Allmendinger went back out on track at his crew's wishes, despite wanting to take the car to the garage. Upon his return trip to the track, his car wouldn't fire as expected and 'Dinger radioed in, "I'm pitting again. I'm going to get killed out here." Allmendinger came to the garage at Lap 63 where the team swapped engines and got the car to refire, before it shut off. The team then changed the fuel cell in an effort to get back out on track and did so at Lap 76. He finished 37th and completed 98 of 110 laps. Changing the fuel cell now. pic.twitter.com/YquZCXvGAI — JTG Daugherty Racing (@NASCAR47) June 28, 2015 The California native scored his first road course win last summer at Watkins Glen to earn a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Truex on Ragan: 'He's probably got one coming' RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Martin Truex Jr .'s run at Sonoma Raceway came to a sudden halt Sunday afternoon in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Truex made contact with David Ragan on Lap 28 and wrecked in Turn 7, going into a tire barrier on the course. Truex went three rows deep into the tire barrier and his No. 78 Chevrolet was towed to the garage. The incident brought out the red flag as track workers repaired the fence. "Definitely a tough day," Truex Jr. said after being released from the infield care center. " ... When you start around 20th on those restarts, it's just a recipe for disaster. I was trying to be aggressive, made some moves. Had a couple cars passed and then the lane that I was in jammed up and the guys that I passed got back behind me. "You just get frustrated, you lose patience. I got into the 55's (Ragan's) door a little bit in Turn 7 and I guess he didn't like it and he figured he'd just dump me. He's probably got one coming, but other than that, it's just part of the restart deal and hate that I got my guys' car torn up." Truex finished 42nd. A winner in 2013 at the 1.99-mile road course, Truex started the race in 12th position but would finish in 42nd-place, his worst result of the season. After a top-10 effort at Michigan on June 14, he became the first driver since Richard Petty in 1969 to have 14 top-10 finishes in the first 15 races of a season. Ragan would later exit the race after wrecking with Carl Edwards on Lap 78 and finished 39th. "With Martin, he just flat-out door-slammed me and ran me completely off the race track," Ragan said after a wreck later in the race sidelined his No. 55 Toyota. "I had all four tires in the gravel and again, I'm just trying to blend back on the race track and he was right there. So Martin just made a mistake and he paid the price for it." -- NASCAR.com's Zack Albert contributed to this report FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule