Kyle Busch’s eighth-place finish in the Big Machine Vodka 400 at The Brickyard earned him the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular-season championship.
Busch finished 41 points ahead of Kevin Harvick after the first 26 races of the season and earned an additional 15 playoff points with the accomplishment. He’ll enter the playoffs tied with Harvick at 2,050 points after the reset. Busch’s six victories and five stage wins gave him 35 playoff points after Indianapolis with the additional bonus of 15 added to his total.
“They give away a trophy and we were able to go out and get it,” Busch said. “Everybody on this team they worked so hard all year long and to get us where we’re at is special, especially today, it was really ugly.”
Busch is optimistic about his chances at a second Cup title and looks for even more improvement after his stellar regular season that ended in Indianapolis.
“We’ve kind of given away a few stages overall in order to kind of get some race wins, so you kind of have a little bit of a trade off there, if you will, but overall, I feel like we came out of here today with not so good of a run,” he said. “We certainly wish we could have been further up front and had a better day, but all things considered, we came out here achieving what we needed to achieve.”
And the Las Vegas native gets the chance to start the playoffs at his home track thanks to the schedule change that puts Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the opening slot for the first time.
“Yeah, being able to go to Las Vegas for the kickoff this year is a bit different. I’m looking forward to that,” Busch said. “Normally we’re at a different venue. We’ve been at different venues for a few years, so this will be the first for Vegas, and I think it’s really special.
“We get an opportunity to go out there a little bit early, all the Chase drivers, and have a couple nights out maybe on the town or whatever. But overall, I’m looking forward to getting out there and just being able to get to the racetrack.”
Harvick will also have 50 playoff points thanks to his regular season performance that included a series-leading seven wins.
“Disaster’s a good word,” Harvick said when asked to explain his day at Indianapolis that did end up with a fourth place finish. “It was not a smooth word today by any means from start to finish. Our Jimmy John’s Ford was fast and that’s all you can say.”
Harvick has one strategy once the playoffs begin next week at LVMS.
“Win,” he said.