RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " Chase Grid Complete news and notes on all 43 drivers from the myAFibRisk.com 400 1. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin's worst start at Chicagoland turned into his best finish at the track when he opted to not pit prior to the Lap 263 restart and used likely the best restart of his career to roll to the win. He is the first driver to secure a spot in the Contender round. 2. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The Chase contender rallied back after being busted for speeding on pit road on Lap 52. 3. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch bounced off the wall early in the race, but was leading when the final caution flag was waved. He opted not to pit and fell back when he didn't get a strong run at the restart. 4. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman restarted 14th on fresh tires and improved to score his fifth top-five of the season. 5. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth's team continually tweaked the No. 20 Toyota to help Kenseth maintain his grip on the points lead. 6. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano, a Chase contender, turned in his second-best result at Chicagoland on Sunday. The Connecticut-native found himself caught in between the Johnson-Harvick issue after bumping Johnson on a restart; which, in turn, caused Johnson to slide into Harvick's Chevrolet. 7. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson is two-for-two at Chicagoland -- two starts, two top-10 results at the 1.5-mile oval. Larson was the first non-Chase contender to cross the finish line. 8. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski rebounded from a loose wheel to post his 10th straight top-10 result of the year, a series best. 9. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch led a race-high 121 laps as the Joe Gibbs Racing domination continued on Sunday. 10. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola ran inside the top 15 for most of the day en route to his first Chicagoland top-10. 11. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson ruffled some feathers early when he made contact with Harvick, after being tapped by Logano, while trying to get back onto the track after the Lap 135 restart. 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt lost several spots in the closing laps when he committed to the top line off the restart and was stalled behind cars on older tires. 13. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . The fastest in Saturday's final practice, Truex was strong all day but got caught up in a four-wide, Lap 263 restart and shuffled to the back. 14. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon, who made a series-tying best 788th Cup start Sunday, took the lead on Lap 144 after a controversial restart, paced the field for 40 laps before pitting under green on Lap 185. 15. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan used the beneficiary pass twice and the wave-around several times to improve his track position and stay on the lead lap. 16. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. In his first Chase race as a contender, McMurray gambled with pit strategy and experienced a bit of tire rub in the closing 30 laps. 17. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . A first-time Chaser, Menard was running 12th and on the lead lap with 18 laps to go. A late-race pit stop and crazy restart cost him position. 18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse spent the first half of Sunday's race looking for the best line. When he ran the top line, he reported, the rear of his car became too tight. 19. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . It was a tough day for Bowyer, who struggled throughout the entire race getting through Turns 3 and 4. 20. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears was considering fuel mileage while racing for the beneficiary pass late in the race Sunday. 21. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle, frequently vexed this season with his car's handling, experienced similar on Sunday and also had the misfortune of brushing the wall. 22. Brian Scott , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Scott rolled off the grid 21st and tying his second-best Cup result of the year (he finished 13th at Las Vegas). 23. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . "Heck yeah boys! Excellent stop," Allgaier encouraged his pit crew during their sixth stop. Unfortunately, the chassis adjustments didn't pan out in the laps to come, as Allgaier noted there wasn't a change in the handling. 24. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne made an unscheduled stop late in the race for a vibration and spent the rest of the race running quietly. The primary radio chatter was his lap times. 25. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart was among the cars knocked off the lead lap during season's longest green-flag run. He was running 16th on Lap 83 and was the last car on the lead lap. 26. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick was running 30th when she reported a "loud metal noise" in the back of her car nearing Lap 100. 27. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill was one of 16 drivers knocked off the lead lap within the first 50 laps, but he had the fortune of being a legitimate contender for the beneficiary pass. 28. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Once his team addressed a loose-handling condition, Bayne employed the wave around during caution periods and held steady in the top 28. 29. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt held steady to improve upon his previous best Chicagoland finish of 30th. 30. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish started 22nd but had to pit unexpectedly for tire rub during the first quarter of the race, causing him to go two laps down. 31. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The Chicagoland first-timer was cautioned on the restarts by spotter Tony Raines , who said "It's like Talladega or Daytona here at the start/finish line. They're all pushing each other." 32. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The caution flag was waved on Lap 191 just as Gilliland's team was completing his green-flag stop. 33. Josh Wise , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing. Within the first 50 laps, Wise reported a vibration in the right rear, prompting his crew chief to call him down pit road and further off the lead lap. 34. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett pitted just prior to the second caution flag for a vibration and later chose to take the wave-around. 35. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley chased a free-handling car and was running 34th past the midway point on Sunday. 36. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger, who was involved in Denny Hamlin 's early on-track spin, took another hit by Lap 48 when he sustained a flat left-rear tire and had to stop on pit road. 37. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Around Lap 151, Bowman reported to his crew that something in the rear of the car had broken and he had to hit pit road. 38. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Burton battled a loose-handling condition during his debut at Chicagoland Speedway and within the first quarter of the race already had dropped the track bar a half inch. 39. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto, later tweeting his car was "off all weekend," started where he finished in his Chicagoland debut. 40. Reed Sorenson , No. 98 Ford, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson scored his second-best result this season from behind the wheel of the No. 98 Ford. 41. Timmy Hill , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports . Making his second Chicagoland start, Hill struggled to make up much track position after starting 43rd. 42. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion experienced tire rub after contact with Johnson on the Lap 135 restart and cut his left-rear tire, ultimately causing him to hit the wall hard three laps later. 43. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon's best Chicagoland start and strong top-10 run was cut short when he got into the wall on Lap 131.
RELATED: Keep updated on the 2016 changes for drivers, crew chiefs Stewart-Haas Racing announced Monday its crew chief lineup for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, including high-profile changes for two of its four teams. Michael Bugarewicz will become the new crew chief for team co-owner/driver Tony Stewart as he embarks on his final full season in the No. 14 Chevrolet. Billy Scott will take over as crew chief for Danica Patrick in the No. 10 Chevy. Bugarewicz, a 33-year-old native of Lehighton, Pennsylvania, makes the transition from his previous role with SHR as race engineer on the No. 4 Chevrolet team for 2014 series champion Kevin Harvick . He previously spent time with Roush Fenway Racing in an engineering role for the No. 17 Ford and drivers Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr . from 2011-13. Bugarewicz replaces Chad Johnston, who left to become the crew chief for Kyle Larson and the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet team. The 2016 season will mark Stewart's last campaign in the sport's top series. RELATED: Stewart to retire from Cup after 2016 " Johnston heads to CGR "We have great people at Stewart-Haas Racing and these changes prove that," Stewart said in a release provided by the team. "We were able to promote from within while also adding new talent. Change isn’t easy, and that’s particularly true when it comes to my relationship with Chad Johnston. He served as my crew chief during two very difficult seasons. He was always supportive and he's become like a brother to me. I think very highly of Chad and wish him nothing but the best in his new opportunity." Scott joins Stewart-Haas after an eight-year tenure as an engineer and later a crew chief with Michael Waltrip Racing , which shut its doors at season's end. The transition reunites Scott with Rodney Childers, who joined SHR in 2014 after five years with the Waltrip-owned team. The 38-year-old from Land O' Lakes, Florida, replaces Daniel Knost, who has been promoted to the senior leadership role of manager of vehicle dynamics within the Stewart-Haas organization. The driver/crew chief lineups remain intact for the two SHR teams that qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs this season. Childers will return atop the pit box for Harvick's No. 4 entry, and Tony Gibson will again be paired with Kurt Busch in 2016. "We made these changes after thoroughly evaluating our program to ensure that all four of our teams are consistently strong and competitive," said Greg Zipadelli, Stewart-Haas Racing 's vice president of competition. "In this business, you can't rest and you can never be satisfied. You have to constantly improve. We feel these personnel changes enhance our strengths and shore up areas where we needed to be better."
Complete news and notes about all 43 drivers and their Coca-Cola 600 results RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid after Charlotte 1. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Sticky feet didn't slow down Edwards, who stretched his fuel window to claim his first Charlotte 600 victory while pretty much locking up a spot in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . " NASCAR.com goes 1-on-1 with Edwards in Victory Lane 2. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle turned in his best showing of the year, starting fourth and earning runner-up honors in the season's longest race. " Biffle reflects on runner-up finish 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native overcame an early-race pit miscue to resume running in the top 10 by Lap 100 and earn his seventh top-five of the year. He now ranks fourth in the points. " Dale Jr. looks at top-five finish at Charlotte 4. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The pole winner closed 12 spots in the final 40 laps after making an unscheduled pit stop with less than 100 laps to go for a loose wheel. " Kenseth talks about late gamble 5. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Before a late-race fuel gamble didn't work out, Truex led a race-high 131 laps and radioed to his team, "I'm feeling like Superman for a few laps anyway." " Truex: 'It hurts to come home fifth' 6. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman earned the beneficiary of the free pass during the final caution period and closed 11 places in the final 40 laps. 7. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . New father Keselowski told his team early that his "ride quality is on par with Kentucky." He won at Kentucky last year, but had to settle for a top 10 (his eighth of the season) due to the fuel mileage game. " To hear more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView Premium today 8. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin, winner of the recent Sprint All-Star race, was pacing the 600 field with a migraine when a loose wheel prompted an unscheduled pit stop with 38 laps to go. " Hamlin visits media center after trip to infield care center 9. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick recorded his 11th top-10 result in 12 appearances this season to extend his grip on the points lead 10. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch lined up 14th and posted the fastest lap of the race on Lap 143 (188.153 mph), which was one of the 118 laps he led on Sunday. 11. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . In his first points race since the Daytona crash, Busch reassured his team he could run the full 600 miles. "Tell Erik (Jones, replacement driver) I feel good," Busch radioed his team. "10-4," crew chief Adam Stevens responded. "His bedtime's in about 20 minutes anyhow." " Busch passes big test at Charlotte 12. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne was tagged near the halfway point for speeding on pit road, but rallied to earn the beneficiary of the free pass and run inside the top 10 with 50 laps to go. 13. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . The birthday boy shook off debris in the first 24 laps to lead twice for 17 circuits on Sunday. 14. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard quietly toured Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval en route to his eighth top-15 result of the season. 15. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . After pacing the field to green in the Indy 500, Gordon lined up 18th in his Coca-Cola 600 finale and had a decent run until a loose wheel impacted his day. " Gordon leads Indy field to green 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon drove a new chassis to his best 1.5-mile result of the season. 17. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola earned the beneficiary of the free pass on the Lap 230 caution and found himself in position again for the free pass in the closing laps. 18. Chase Elliott , No. 25 Chevrolet. Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott, in his third Cup outing and first at a 1.5-miler, qualified 28th and mostly ran inside the top 25, despite dealing with a radio communication issue during the race. 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The two-time Charlotte winner had a ho hum day, running middle of the pack in his 26th appearance at the 1.5-mile track. 20. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer's frustration sparked a late-race decision to gamble on fuel mileage. "Might as well (gamble)," Bowyer radioed crew chief Brian Pattie. "Nothing to lose." " To hear more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView Premium today 21. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart was running a lap down when he got into the back of Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., who slid up the track ahead of him on Lap 302. 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick had to make two pit stops during the third caution flag after receiving damage from a dust-up with Clint Bowyer and Chase Elliott on pit road. 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears battled a lack of air conditioning and tried to stay cool during the season's longest race by taking ice bags during pit stops. 24. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish couldn't climb back from an early handling issue although he later ran lap times comparable to those inside the top 15. 25. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson qualified ninth, marking his first top-10 start at Charlotte, and ran as high as eighth before quietly fading. 26. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Encouraged early by crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr. not to overdrive it, Bowman went on to post his best intermediate track finish of the year. 27. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne's tough night was further impacted when he hit the wall on Lap 230 to bring out the fourth caution flag and halt 89 laps of green-flag racing. 28. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt liked his car during practice and ultimately turned in his best 2015 result on a 1.5-mile track. 29. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger required an unscheduled pit stop around Lap 160 when a hot dog wrapper stuck to his grille and raised temps. 30. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . McDowell spent the night looking for speed as he worked with his team on the handling of the No. 95 Ford. 31. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Spotter Tony Raines told Moffitt his car was faster than those ahead of him, but grip was a persistent problem. 32. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett, who dealt with a tight-handling condition early on Sunday, spun on the backstretch on Lap 328 to bring out the caution flag. 33. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland, who honored The Unknown Soldier with his car, led Lap 28 after choosing not to pit during the competition caution. 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto, making his third 1.5-mile start and his first at Charlotte, complained early of a loose-handling condition. 35. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise lined up 38th and got behind early, but still held on to post his best Charlotte result in his last four outings at the 1.5-mile track. 36. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. Making his Charlotte debut, Kennedy improved upon his earlier intermediate result this season at Texas Motor Speedway . 37. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse cracked the top 10 with 70 laps to go, but watched his second top-10 of the season slip through his fingers after he hit the wall eight laps later 38. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley was mired in traffic after being penalized during the competition caution when a crew member went over the wall too early. 3 9. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill followed the race on Sunday by physically running 14 miles to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in support of the Folds of Honor Foundation. " Cassill completes unique Memorial Day weekend double 40. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson spun on Lap 90 and saved his car in a move reminiscent of Kansas Speedway , where he was victorious. But he wasn't able to save it a second time after he spun on Lap 274 and collided with the inside pit wall. " Second spin crunches Johnson's No. 48 41. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . In the final third of the race, Ragan cited his water temperatures were fluctuating and ultimately was sidelined by an engine issue. 42. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney cracked the top 11 on Sunday, but his strong run was halted on Lap 282 when his engine blew up. 43. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier, in his third Charlotte start, retreated to the garage after getting into the wall between Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 136. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR.com's Costner Merrifield and Taylor Starer catch you up on some of the best tweets from around the NASCAR community including Tony Stewart and his pig.
Editor's note: Every Friday, "Tweets You Might Have Missed" will present eight of the best NASCAR-related tweets from the week. 1. Not everyone can say they have a legit pig in a blanket #Porkchop pic.twitter.com/9ZmYv6im0v — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) November 12, 2015 2. Go kart stuck in high + whiskey throttle = mommy her pants!!!!!!!! — DeLana Harvick (@DeLanaHarvick) November 10, 2015 3. Restoration of original Metrolina Speedway sign completed. @LostSpeedways pic.twitter.com/jguNuiPMTu — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) November 12, 2015 4. Drake is soft like tissue. https://t.co/ZKP5elXEXZ — Mark Martin (@markmartin) November 9, 2015 5. I got it bad... 2 secs from literally leaving this house w/ everything in it. The sun was playing tricks on me pic.twitter.com/2pKclDXIrM — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) November 12, 2015 6. Pure beauty happy race day! pic.twitter.com/k08UQEYlvU — Paige (@epaigewhite) November 8, 2015 7. Can anyone tell me how to get to @DISupdates My Dad keeps saying practice, practice, practice @CateEvernham pic.twitter.com/wBY9cJMcAU — ray evernham (@RayEvernham) November 10, 2015 8. I don't know what a #BAE is but they seem to be gaining momentum. They now have a system and planes. Look out. pic.twitter.com/gKkOGsHzw8 — Michael Waltrip (@mw55) November 8, 2015 FAN TWEET OF THE WEEK: He's so happy https://t.co/dBg5dLnNXN — Matt Harrington (@Matt2Harrington) November 11, 2015
2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion Chris Buescher gives his acceptance speech during the end-of-season banquet at the Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Florida.
'Smoke' dresses as Carmen Miranda, all in the name of Halloween Tony Stewart may have topped Tony Gibson for the best Halloween costume, but let's be honest -- there are no winners here. Gibson, crew chief of Kurt Busch , and Stewart traded playful tweets in advance of Wednesday's Halloween party about who would have the better costume. Even Gibson dressing as literally a middle finger couldn't top Stewart's cross-dressing. It seems ol' 'Smoke' is bringing new meaning to the term "high-drag package." Yep!!! I lost... @TonyStewart wins pic.twitter.com/HqmkGpukRH — Tony Gibson (@TonyOldman41) October 28, 2015 Cannot. Unsee.
Tony Stewart's infamous Halloween costume lives on at "The Paperclip" Tony Stewart probably thought his *ahem* interesting Halloween costume choice had a one-night shelf life, running its course after the party he and crew chief Tony Gibson attended on Wednesday night. RELATED: Stewart shows off new 'drag' package His No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team members thought differently. #NASCAR ... Name over door of @TonyStewart 's car. @NASCARonNBC @NBCSports pic.twitter.com/yebDCrcsCi — Dustin Long (@dustinlong) October 30, 2015 It's unconfirmed just exactly whose brilliant handiwork this is -- possibly a scorned, costume contest-losing Gibson -- but one thing's for sure: those in the NASCAR garage won't be letting 'Smoke' live this one down for awhile. As possibly the garage's most notorious prankster, Tony probably had this one coming. And just in case you needed a reminder/terrible dreams tonight, here's the costume in question. Yep!!! I lost... @TonyStewart wins pic.twitter.com/HqmkGpukRH — Tony Gibson (@TonyOldman41) October 28, 2015
Tony Stewart spins but doesn't make contact with the wall early in the Hollywood Casino 400.
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."