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
WATCH: Wildest rides of 2015 TALLADEGA, Ala. -- The "Big One" hit in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, and it had an impact as massive as the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway oval itself. The championship race took a sharp turn when the No. 51 of Matt Tifft came down from the top line into a dense pack of trucks on Lap 92 (of 98), triggering a 10-vehicle incident that brought out the red flag for nearly 15 minutes. It was the last and worst shot to Matt Crafton , who led 43 laps but was involved in that incident that sent him tumbling down the leaderboard. Crafton, who trailed Erik Jones by four points entering the fred's 250 Presented by Coca-Cola, wound up 23 points behind the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver after finishing 24th. Four races remain in the 2015 season. Jones finished fourth. Fellow title contender Tyler Reddick ( Brad Keselowski Racing) was also involved in the wreck, but he rallied for a fifth-place result and is second in the standings , 18 points behind Jones. Two-time defending series champion Crafton was aggravated over the radio at the Talladega-style racing -- "it's the greatest (expletive) racing," he said sarcastically – and brief in his analysis on the points battle following the race. "I had my problems," Crafton said. "If (Jones and Tyler Reddick ) have their problems … I'm not worried about it. We're going to try and go win the next four and see what happens." Crafton was plagued by a spate of bad incidents Saturday that put his hopes for a three-peat as series champion in serious jeopardy. First, there was the large piece of debris that affixed itself to the front of Crafton's No. 88 Toyota, which caused the driver -- in the lead at the time -- to drop back in the field behind the pack, so that the air from the pack would sweep the trash off. That was successful in freeing the debris, but being in the back presented problems on Lap 86 when Stanton Barrett got into the wall, hitting Crafton's truck in the process. The ThorSport Racing driver was making his way up through the field before being drilled and sent into the inside wall, all of which preceded the final blow of the "Big One." Jones led six laps and was up front nearly the entire day after qualifying third. The 19-year-old ran 1-2 with Crafton prior to the No. 88 falling to the back to clean debris and extended his streak of consecutive top-10 finishes to 11, a run that began with his win at Iowa Speedway in June. "Never would have thought that we could have come out of this race that far ahead," Jones said of the points battle. "Everything from the best to the worst can happen here, and fortunately the best happened for us."
After Race 36 of the 2015 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Attempts 1 Joe Gibbs 18 5,043 0 0 3 2 36 2 Tony Stewart 4 5,042 -1 -1 1 -1 36 3 Rick Hendrick 24 5,038 -5 -4 2 -1 36 4 Barney Visser 78 5,032 -11 -6 4 0 36 5 J D Gibbs 19 2,368 -2,675 -2,664 5 0 36 6 Walter Czarnecki 22 2,360 -2,683 -8 6 0 36 7 Roger Penske 2 2,347 -2,696 -13 8 1 36 8 Gene Haas 41 2,333 -2,710 -14 9 1 36 9 J D Gibbs 11 2,327 -2,716 -6 10 1 36 10 Jeff Gordon 48 2,315 -2,728 -12 12 2 36 11 Richard Childress 31 2,314 -2,729 -1 11 0 36 12 Rick Hendrick 88 2,310 -2,733 -4 7 -5 36 13 Felix Sabates 1 2,295 -2,748 -15 13 0 36 14 Joe Gibbs 20 2,291 -2,752 -4 14 0 36 15 Richard Childress 27 2,262 -2,781 -29 15 0 36 16 Rob Kauffman 15 2,175 -2,868 -87 16 0 36 17 Richard Petty 43 940 -4,103 -1,235 17 0 36 18 Linda Hendrick 5 939 -4,104 -1 18 0 36 19 Chip Ganassi 42 900 -4,143 -39 19 0 36 20 Jack Roush 16 869 -4,174 -31 20 0 36 21 Richard Childress 3 832 -4,211 -37 21 0 36 22 Tad Geschickter 47 758 -4,285 -74 23 1 36 23 Bob Germain 13 754 -4,289 -4 22 -1 36 24 Tony Stewart 10 741 -4,302 -13 24 0 36 25 John Henry 17 712 -4,331 -29 25 0 36 26 Richard Petty 9 709 -4,334 -3 26 0 36 27 Margaret Haas 14 695 -4,348 -14 27 0 36 28 Michael Waltrip 55 667 -4,376 -28 28 0 36 29 John Henry 6 655 -4,388 -12 29 0 36 30 Harry Scott Jr. 51 588 -4,455 -67 30 0 36 31 Bob Jenkins 35 553 -4,490 -35 31 0 36 32 Brad Jenkins 38 533 -4,510 -20 32 0 36 33 Michael Hillman 40 481 -4,562 -52 33 0 36 34 Jerry Freeze 34 472 -4,571 -9 34 0 36 35 Joe Falk 33 458 -4,585 -14 35 0 36 36 Tommy Baldwin 7 437 -4,606 -21 36 0 36 37 Ron Devine 83 424 -4,619 -13 37 0 36 38 Harry Scott Jr. 46 383 -4,660 -41 38 0 36 39 Mike Curb 98 309 -4,734 -74 39 0 36 40 Ron Devine 23 302 -4,741 -7 40 0 36 41 Glen Wood 21 300 -4,743 -2 41 0 19 42 Archie St Hilaire 32 268 -4,775 -32 42 0 36 43 Anthony Marlowe 26 252 -4,791 -16 43 0 36 44 Bob Leavine 95 213 -4,830 -39 44 0 20 45 Jay Robinson 62 111 -4,932 -102 45 0 36 46 Rick Hendrick 25 89 -4,954 -22 46 0 5 47 John Cohen 44 12 -5,031 -77 47 0 4 48 Jay Robinson 66 8 -5,035 -4 48 0 4 49 Curtis Key Sr. 30 6 -5,037 -2 49 0 13 50 Robby Benton 129 0 -5,043 -6 51 1 4 51 Sandy Hillman 139 0 -5,043 0 50 -1 2
CONCORD, N.C. -- Chris Buescher always dreaded this part of the job. He had just finished wheeling the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to a seventh-place result at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 2013. Now, as the race at Road America approached, Buescher was tasked with taking his seat out and putting another one in back at the shop. It's a simple maneuver, one that's necessary in NASCAR as the race car seats are form-fitting to each driver. But the seat represented another ride that was not his, another driver who would be piloting the No. 16 instead of him, while he stood on the sidelines as a part-time employee in the race shop. "It took a lot of will power to take your seat in and out of a race car and put another driver's in it, knowing that that's exactly where you wanted to be, but were not able to at the time," Buescher said about a task he performed nine times in 2013. "It was a tough one for me, to be able to do that. I had to go to the race track, had to help the guys through the weekend, had to put the pit sign out for pit stops, get the guys on the right spot." But soon, it would be just his signature –- no one else's -- on top of the Roush Fenway Racing Ford. All paths lead to North Carolina Relaxed and dressed in work pants, a T-shirt and sneakers at the capacious Roush Fenway Racing campus in Concord, North Carolina, Buescher is the epitome of a man's man -- absent is the air of fame that surrounds many who spend their lives in the spotlight. He grins when he recalls having to buy a tuxedo because he didn't even own a suit -- much less a tux -- until recently. And he recounts moments of humbleness and times of challenge that molded him into the driver he is today: A winning wheelman who is leading the NASCAR XFINITY Series points standings in his second full-time year in the series and ready to contend for his first championship title. Anything to race Buescher is 12 years old. He's seated in his living room in his Prosper, Texas, home with his parents. And they're asking him to make a big decision, one that will impact his entire life. He still remembers that day vividly. "They said, 'Look, if you want to do this as a hobby, great. We'll go run on Saturday nights, we'll have fun here in Texas and you can continue to go through school and figure out something you want to do as your career. Or you can make racing your career.'" Buescher surrounded himself with racing. He spent summers racing Legends cars in the racing capital of the United States -- Charlotte, North Carolina. He slept many nights on the couch of now-No. 16 Sprint Cup crew chief Matt Puccia, trying to gain experience during the summer in the little time he had away from school. "Just happened to be the short couch, so my knees would end up on one armrest and my neck on the other," Buescher joked. "Not the most comfortable way to spend three months." "It usually started out with, 'Hey, do you mind if we stay at your house for a few nights?' " Puccia said with a chuckle at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 23. "And it ended up being the whole summer and into fall sometimes. "But you could tell really at a young age when he was first running Legends cars how much talent that he was going to have. He just had a natural ability of being able to adapt to those cars." Eventually it was time for him to make a more permanent decision. In 2008 -- without a driver's license, even -- 15-year-old Buescher left his childhood town in Texas for Charlotte. This time, he wouldn't return home at summer's end. "(I said to myself) 'Man, you better take this opportunity or somebody else will,' " Buescher said. "... It was that time where you really had to commit. I had to drive the 17, 18 hours up to Charlotte, unpack what little belongings I had at the time and try and make racing work." "... That was the hardest part of it was trying to leave home so young, knowing I had two sisters, I had all my friends back there still and not wanting to leave at all just to try and make this work." But Buescher wasn't alone. He had a family waiting for him up in the Tarheel State that was ready to embrace him with open arms and would ultimately help advance his racing career: The Ragans. A second family Buescher had met Ken Ragan -- Cup driver and father of Sprint Cup Series regular David Ragan -- while racing Legends cars. At the time, Ragan was in charge of 600 Racing, Inc., a company that manufactures and sponsors Legends cars worldwide. Their initial meeting, however, wasn't ideal. "Through unfortunate circumstances, (I) got to be in his office for a lengthy lecture after I got black-flagged one weekend," Buescher recalled with a smile and chuckle. "So, it was a rocky start, but it turned into a great friendship over the course of the next few summers." The Ragans gave Buescher a roof over his head, while offering a valuable connection to the racing community. He maintained the family's yard, completed his high school work online and tried to make it as a race car driver. Soon, that success came for Buescher, as he joined Roush Fenway Racing as a part-time XFINITY driver in 2011 and won his first ARCA championship in 2012. But even in times of triumph, the journey to the top doesn't always pay as it should. "It got to the point where I was ready to go get a job part-time so I could afford to live and still race," Buescher said. The solution came in the form of a job as an interior specialist in the shop, which provided him with the monetary support he needed -- and allowed him to learn how his own race cars operate. "You want to know if a piece of suspension is broken and you're out on the race track, you want to be able to describe where it's coming from and you want to know a basic idea of what you're describing," Buescher said. "You want to be able to tell them, 'look here first.' ... And I think that's important and there's a lot of guys that don't have that now." Buescher enjoyed the side gig so much that he continues to work in the shop today, decaling many of his own helmets, helping the shop employees during teardown and even building a small AC box for the garage. It's a bit of an old-school approach, reminiscent of a time in NASCAR when drivers would pull their own trailers to the track. But that's just how Buescher operates -- an old soul in the body of a 23-year-old race car driver. Turning bad luck into opportunity Mother Nature was not on Buescher's side that day down at Daytona International Speedway . He had finally gotten his start as an XFINITY Series full-time driver for Roush Fenway Racing and was set to qualify for his first race that season in February 2014. During the opening round of knockout qualifying, rain began to fall, halting the first session and ultimately cancelling the final two rounds. Buecher's No. 60 Ford didn't make the field. "I didn't get to run the first race of the season and that really hurt," Buescher said. "That was one of those times when you had to sit in a motorhome or on a pit box during the race and watch when you should have been in there, that you were fast enough all through testing, that you were fast enough through practice, you were top-five on the charts -- there was no reason not to be in that race. "And you sit there the whole time and think, 'What can I do to make sure this never happens again?' And that was the time we really put our heads down as a team -- we're a new team, we're all together for the first race, and we didn't get to run it. So, as we went into the next handful of races in the year, we decided we had nothing to lose. We could take chances, let's all learn together and let's go win some races." That's what they did. Buescher earned his first XFINITY win at Mid-Ohio that year, carrying momentum into the 2015 season, where two wins and 11 top-fives have propelled him to No. 1 in the series standings . With three races remaining on the schedule, the No. 60 driver's chance at a trophy draws closer. "I looked at what we have coming up and I feel great about our chances," Buescher said. "... It's been a tough several weeks leading up to this point and these last (three) are not going to be any easier. I know that." The champion won't be crowned until November, but given his chances as we look to Homestead, Buescher had better have a tuxedo ready -- just in case.
He has the best average finishing position overall, and the points lead. Now he hopes to build a little separation between himself and the rest of the field. Heading back to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where he scored his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series win last year, Chris Buescher likes his chances. The Roush Fenway Racing driver has been atop the series points standings since earning career win No. 2, at Iowa, in a span of near one dozen races. Next up is Saturday's Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). It's the second of three road-course stops in the span of a month for the series. Given his success at Mid-Ohio, and a third-place run this past weekend at Watkins Glen, it's little wonder Buescher, 22, is looking forward to the next few weeks. "I really hope that road courses will be a strong point for us," Buescher said. "I feel really comfortable going back to Mid-Ohio obviously. Road America (where he finished 18th a year ago) was the one where I needed a little bit more work. "I think we should be able to run top 10 very easily there. I like road racing ... I seem to hang in there and we seem to be able to put fast Roush Fenway race cars on the track." Road America, coming up at month's end, falls later on this year's schedule than in recent seasons when the race there was held in June. Buescher doesn't lead the series as far as average finish on road courses is concerned. In the past two seasons, he ranks fourth (12.8) along with Ty Dillon . Chase Elliott (5.3), Elliott Sadler (7.8) and Brian Scott (8.8) have been a bit more consistent. But Buescher, crew chief Scott Graves and his No. 60 crew have been getting better. Not that there haven't been hiccups, but the team has yet to finish outside the top 20 this season. They've been good, but not great, as the Watkins Glen finish attests. "I like where we’re at right now," Buescher said. "We have speed in our road course cars. The (Team) Penske cars showed up better than us (at Watkins Glen) though. They were very fast, class of the field. That being said, they always run fast at that particular track. "Mid-Ohio, I don't feel like there was a car there that really had something better than us last time around. If we can repeat that, maybe we can improve on it a little bit. I’m pretty comfortable where we're at." Elliott, the defending series champion, trails Buescher by 24 points (724-700). Dillon (also 24 back), Regan Smith (minus-57) and Sadler (minus-58) round out the top five.
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A hard-edged contest for the lead snared two championship contenders, and a pit-stop misstep hindered the third, as Friday the 13th luck haunted the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title race at Phoenix International Raceway . While Timothy Peters scooted away with his second victory of the season, Erik Jones , Tyler Reddick and Matt Crafton all played damage control Friday night in a topsy-turvy Lucas Oil 150 . Once the curtain closed on the next-to-last event of the season, Jones inched closer to his first NASCAR national series crown, Reddick made modest but unfulfilling gains and Crafton's hopes for extending his title reign to three years grew dimmer. After a late-race restart, Jones and Crafton collided with 30 laps to go on the exit of Turn 4. Crafton caught the worst of the melee, collecting ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter at speed on the frontstretch. Jones, the pole-starter, emerged with relatively minor damage on the left-rear fender, rallying from a pit stop to finish ninth. Crafton spent significant time behind the wall for repairs, finishing 20 laps down in 23rd place. Crafton and Jones had raced fiercely earlier in the 150-lapper, and their contact near the end was no different. But the two-time series champ absorbed the blame for the fateful brush. "It was 100 percent my fault," said Crafton, who led three times for 15 laps. "We were close and it was tight racing. When you get somebody side-by-side with you, I just got loose and made a mistake. Things happen, we're all human and we'll go on to Homestead. I hate it for the guys, we had such a good truck. We'll just hold our heads up and go to Homestead." Jones, who can eliminate Crafton from the title picture with a result of 27th or better in the 32-truck field in next Friday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Homestead-Miami Speedway , said the contact was simply the byproduct of hard-nosed competition. "There was definitely some hard racing," said Jones, who led five times for 106 laps. "He didn't want us to get the lead obviously and slipped up and made a mistake. It's going to happen, it's racing, it's hard racing and we both had fast trucks. It's just a shame when you lose a shot at the win. ... "At that moment I wasn't thinking about the championship. I was thinking about winning a race and that flashed before my eyes. I was somewhat worried about it, I wasn't too concerned about it, I figured we'd be OK since obviously the 88 (Crafton) was involved as well. Still a 19-point lead and that's a solid margin to go into Homestead." Reddick actually gained a spot in the standings with a fifth-place finish, but failed to capitalize more on the misfortunes of Crafton and Jones. The 19-year-old driver said his Brad Keselowski Racing team would investigate possible trouble on his No. 19 Ford's right-front, which led to a balky tire change on his final pit stop. Jones can close out Reddick in the season finale by placing 15th or better, 16th with leading one lap, and 17th with leading the most laps. Though a mathematic chance at taking the title exists, Reddick was despondent in the immediate aftermath of defeat, calling the night "a real shame." "We still needed to win the race and that was all I really cared about doing," Reddick said. "Running fifth is not going to win us a championship."
RELATED: Race results " Updated standings " Bubble watch AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A green-flag pit stop and subsequent caution nearly undid a season's worth of work for Martin Truex Jr . and his Furniture Row Racing team here Sunday evening. But when the skies opened up again and brought an end to the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway , Truex found himself officially locked in, one of four drivers that will compete for NASCAR's Sprint Cup championship next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "I feel like we've overcome a lot of obstacles, a lot of odds," Truex said of the Cole Pearn-led No. 78 team. "Just proud to be a part of this group and looking forward to having the opportunity to do something we've dreamed about our whole lives next weekend." He'll be joined by Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch in next weekend's title determining race. Truex, 35, entered Sunday's race fourth in the points standings and six points ahead of Carl Edwards ( Joe Gibbs Racing ). Once the race, which was initially delayed for seven hours due to rain, got underway, the two drivers were never separated on the track by more than a couple of cars. Shortly after the race had passed the halfway mark, Edwards had managed to trim the deficit to three points . Green-flag pit stops began and both drivers had come to pit road when the second caution flag of the race appeared for a crash involving Joey Gase and Ricky Stenhouse Jr . What initially looked to be a devastating turn of events wound up being only a minor setback for Truex and the No. 78 team. Both drivers were among those caught a lap down, but Edwards, the first driver not on the lead lap, was the beneficiary of the free pass, putting him back on the lead lap. Truex, however, was one of the "wave-around" cars and because he had already completed his pit stop, rolled back into line in 14th, just two spots behind the JGR entry. Subsequent attempts at a restart were delayed by rain, and when the skies eventually opened up, officials declared the race over. Officially, 219 of the 312 scheduled laps were completed. With no restart, no positions changed hands and Truex was officially scored in 14th, edging Edwards (12th) to secure the final Chase spot by five points . "I was real concerned until I looked at the scoreboard, and then I was like 'OK, we're going to be fine. We're going to be back on the lead lap if we get going here,' " Truex said of the fallout front the caution flag. "Really the only guy we were racing was one car ahead of us. We felt OK about it, but you never know who could have (gone) up there and snuck out a win. "It was just one of those deals where I couldn't believe we got caught by the caution after running almost 200 laps almost green the whole race. We pitted a lap before the caution came out and that's a tough deal. That's happened to us … I can't believe how many times it's happened to us this this year. It's got to be 15 or plus times. We pit, the caution comes out and you're stuck a lap down. "It's really frustrating because we were having a solid night up to that point, certainly not as good as we'd hoped, but solid. It's always frustrating when those things happen." Edwards was hopeful that officials would get the track dry and allow the race to continue. "We want to race for sure," he said. "I don't care if we do this thing with row boats or on foot or whatever we got to do. I want to go race." Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas. Truex, moves on, still in contention. For Edwards and the No. 19 team, ousted after coming so close, there was the understandable disappointment. Disappointment, crew chief Darian Grubb said, because of "how hard they've worked all year to come down to something as simple as a rain out." His team was a first-year outfit added to the JGR stable for 2015 with Edwards coming on board. The group won twice, at Charlotte and Darlington. "We feel like we could have raced our way back in there and have a shot at it," Grubb said. "We were still five points out, just like we were five points (out) coming in. We knew that was going to be a tough situation, but it ended up that bit us and I hate it for these guys."
Casey Mears and Germain Racing have agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep Mears in the No. 13 Chevrolet through 2018, the team announced Thursday. GEICO also extended its relationship with Germain Racing to be the vehicle's primary sponsor through 2018. GEICO has been a primary sponsor with the team since its inception in 2009. "This is great news for our Germain Racing team because everyone has worked so hard to build this GEICO program and people in the garage are taking notice of what we're accomplishing," Mears said in a team release. "GEICO is such a great partner and they not only support our team, but the sport in general, which makes me even prouder to have the opportunity to drive the GEICO Chevy. We appreciate their belief in us and have enjoyed our relationship with everyone at the corporate office, as well as the GEICO associates that we get to interface with each week at the race track." Mears has piloted the car full time since the 2011 season, notching one top five and five top 10s during that span. He currently sits 22nd in the points standings with two races remaining in the 2015 season. If it holds, it would be his best finish with Germain Racing .
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings FORT WORTH, Texas -- Two tire punctures and a balky transmission should have spelled the end of Kevin Harvick 's bid for a second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. But in spite of the avalanche of setbacks, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver still managed to pull off a stunning third-place finish in Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway to keep his title hopes alive. Third in points , Harvick is one of seven drivers still scrambling to secure a spot in the four-car championship round scheduled for later this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "As you look at the things we've had, we've had really good race cars and that allows us to overcome things like today with two flat tires," Harvick said on pit road after the 334-lap race. "Even with the shifter problem we were able to maintain what we had. But all in all, we just kept gouging away and everything worked out in the end." Debris from an earlier accident cut a rear tire on Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet less than 40 laps into the race as he was running in the top five. Able to make it to pit road without damaging his car, Harvick stayed on the lead lap, but eventually restarted outside the top 25. He wasted no time in getting back inside the top 10, and eventually the top five once again. He was dogging race leader Brad Keselowski on Lap 281 when the second tire puncture sent him back to pit road under green. Because the field was preparing for a round of green-flag stops, the incident wasn't as big of a setback as it might have otherwise been for the team. "There was debris everywhere," Harvick said. "The first caution, they just blew all the debris down to the inside wall. It seemed like a lot of people were hitting the wall and there was a lot of stuff out there today. It definitely was interesting with all the tire problems. "I never felt the tire blow apart. It was a real slow deflation as I felt the first one in the middle of the corner. I felt the second one in the middle of the corner, too, and we were able to get the car down. The only part I was disappointed in is I misplaced which tire it was both times. While several teams were battling tire issues brought on by air pressure adjustments and a lack of on-track time (both of Saturday's practice sessions were canceled due to wet track conditions), crew chief Rodney Childers said other than the punctured tires, actual tire wear wasn't an issue for the No. 4 team. RELATED: Tire issues forces Harvick to pit "At first I was blaming it on myself," Childers said of the first flat. "I thought maybe I didn't have enough air in it. But it was definitely a puncture. I've got the piece in my bag. It looked like a window shim, probably out of the 22 car (of Joey Logano ). And then the right rear that we had a problem with later, there was a big puncture in it also." Childers didn't blame NASCAR for the debris, noting, "when those things come apart, it just tears the car to pieces. "It's really hard for NASCAR to clean all that stuff up," he said. "The one that got our left rear, it was anodized black. You would have never seen it on a black race track. I know they are doing the best job they can. As a competitor you want he race track to be clean but on the other hand I know they're trying their best also." As if the tire problems weren’t enough, a problem with the transmission left Harvick driving nearly the final 100 laps while holding the gear shifter in place. "It hadn't missed a gear or jammed a gear or anything like that," he said. "It shifted smooth all weekend. I was just going along like normal. One lap, all of a sudden it just pops out of gear in the middle of the straightaway. So I don't really know. That's happened to us several times, so we definitely need to figure that out." Childers said it could have been a "freak thing" that "may never happen again." But it's clearly been an issue for the team. "We don't build our transmissions," Childers said. "… We're going to have to do something a little different there. We're the only people that run these transmissions." Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon clinched one of the four Chase spots with his victory at Martinsville Speedway a week ago. Teammate Jimmie Johnson 's win Sunday at Texas kept any other Chase driver from automatically earning a berth. Leaving Harvick to head to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend where he's has won seven times, including the last four races. Kyle Busch (4,080), Harvick (4,079) and Martin Truex Jr . (4,076) are currently second through fourth, respectively, in the points standings . Carl Edwards , Brad Keselowski , Kurt Busch and Joey Logano round out the eight Chase drivers.
Jones, Reddick chasing two-time defending champ in standings Five races into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, the cream is still on top. Matt Crafton ’s third-place finish last Friday in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway allowed the series points leader to maintain his top spot. Crafton, driving the No. 88 for ThorSport Racing, now has 217 points on the strength of two wins, four top fives and a series-best five top-10 finishes. The 38-year-old Crafton is trying to three-peat as the Camping World Truck Series points champion. Crafton has 343 Trucks races under his fire suit, starting with the Motorola 200 at Fontana back in 2000. His first-ever win was the 2008 edition of the North Carolina Education Lottery. He has a modest seven career wins, but consistency works in his favor. He’s placed among the top 10 in his Trucks races 57.4 percent of the time (197 out of 343). Erik Jones ’ epic battle with Kasey Kahne , which included side-by-side racing for most of the final lap and a photo finish, is the type of excitement NASCAR officials — and fans — want to see. Kahne won the race by 0.005 (that’s not a typo) of a second. The No. 00 Truck failed the post-race inspection for a ride-height violation. Kahne does, however, get to keep the win. Driving the No. 4 for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Jones led 88 of the 139 laps at Charlotte. Jones, who turns 19 on May 30, ranks second in the points standings . He finished 18th last year. Just two points behind Jones in the standings sits Tyler Reddick , who picked up his fourth top-five finish of the year by placing fourth last week. Driving the No. 19 Truck for Brad Keselowski Racing, Reddick already has one more top-five finish than he had in 16 starts as a rookie in 2014. The 19-year-old placed 12th in the standings last year. More than a decade removed from his rookie season in a NASCAR national series, Johnny Sauter is chasing his first-ever Truck Series title. Sauter, who turned 37 earlier this month, ranks fourth in the current standings . His best season was a second-place finish in 2011, and he placed fourth in the standings the past two years. John Wes Townley moved into the top five with a sixth-place finish at Charlotte. Townley doesn’t have a win in his 74 career starts on the circuit. He was 15th in the final 2014 standings , and his best year was an 11th-place showing in 2013. Up next for the Camping World Truck Series is the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway on May 29 (5:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule