It took Kyle Busch 21 races to find Victory Lane again in 2019. Win number five of the season couldn’t have come at a better time.
Busch took the checkered flag in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and in the process scored his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.
In many ways Busch’s triumph was ironic. He’s been a vocal opponent to this year’s Cup Series rules package since it was tested back in January. Week after week, even when he was winning earlier in the year, Busch made his feelings about disliking the high downforce package front and center. He went through for him what more than likely seemed like an endless drought since winning at Pocono in June before getting another "W" on Sunday.
But Busch was by far the strongest of the Championship 4 drivers Sunday night at Homestead. Once he got the lead away from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin on a restart he never looked back and stayed ahead of the pack the rest of the way after lap 170.
It capped a year that was in many ways strange but ultimately put Busch in elite company as one of only 16 drivers with multiple Cup championships.
That’s something Busch will certainly not complain about.
- There might not be a better track on the schedule than Homestead in terms of producing good racing. The south Florida speedway is definitely the best of the 1.5-milers on the calendar but deserves consideration among all the tracks that currently host NASCAR. Of course next season the championships won’t be decided at Homestead as has been the case since 2002. The decision to move next year’s title weekend to ISM Raceway brings with it a tinge of sadness knowing Homestead will for the immediate future will not crown a champion races that have more often than not featured some of the best competition of the season.
- Matt Crafton won this year’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship without putting a victory on the board. The veteran became a three-time series champ after he finished second behind Austin Hill in Friday night’s rain-delayed Ford EcoBoost 200. It’s not the first time a driver has clinched the NASCAR title without winning a race with Austin Dillon most recently turning the trick in the 2013 Xfinity Series season. Crafton did nothing wrong except perform at his best under the parameters of the playoff format. To be fair it does seem strange, especially in the current era that has put so much of a premium on winning. But Crafton deserves every accolade for accomplishing what every driver and team started out the year hoping to do – winning the championship.
- Tyler Reddick’s record-breaking Xfinity Series performance in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 came in thrilling fashion. Reddick became the division’s first driver to win titles in back-to-back years with two different organizations – JR Motorsports last season and Richard Childress Racing in 2019. He got the checkered flag after an incredible late race battle with Cole Custer, that saw the duo swap the top spot lap after lap in the closing staged before Reddick was able to pull away. The other member of the "Big 3" Christopher Bell was in the mix for a while but fell back to a fifth-place finish. The trio put together a stellar season and will now take their talents to the Cup Series next year.
- NASCAR president Steve Phelps gave his annual "State of the Sport" address to the media Sunday at Homestead and hit on a variety of hot topics. Phelps was complimentary of the new Cup Series rules that has positively impacted racing on 1.5-mile tracks but did admit possibly tweaks to the package next year in hopes of improving the short track and road course product, both of which suffered the effects of higher downforce. Phelps said the 2021 next-gen Cup car is well into its development and the industry is looking to "put the stock back in stock car racing" with several initiatives around the new machine. He also addressed the 2021 schedule and potential changes coming the season after next with a self-imposed deadline hope of releasing the slate by spring of next year.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.