Kyle Busch Takes 2nd Career Championship

It all came down to this.

For the past 37 weeks, all drivers that make up the NASCAR Cup Series have worked tirelessly to be one of the final 4 to race for a championship in the final race of the season. The four drivers that ended up making it through due to their stellar performance all season were Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr.  Busch, Harvick, and Truex were all looking for the 2nd title of their careers, while Hamlin was trying to win his first.

LAP 1: Denny Hamlin was placed in pole position after qualifying was rained out on Friday afternoon and the starting lineup was determined by points. This put the championship 4 drivers in the top four spots to start the race. When the green flag flew, Hamlin was quickly overtaken by Kevin Harvick who started in 2nd place. Harvick pulled ahead with a 1.5-second lead.

LAP 21: As Harvick began to catch lap traffic, his car started to struggle and allowed Martin Truex Jr to catch up. Truex made the pass for the lead as the handling of Harvick’s #4 faded badly, causing him to fall to P4.

LAP 36: Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick came down pit road for an early stop which dragged the rest of the field down to the pits as well. Truex cycled back to the lead, Kyle Busch in 3rd, Harvick in 4th, and Hamlin in 5th.

STAGE 1 END – LAP 80: Truex won the stage, 7-seconds ahead of 2nd place. Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Denny Hamlin completed the top 5.

LAP 96: With Truex far out in the lead, an intense 3-way battle for P2 broke out between Larson, Busch, and Harvick before Kyle Busch finally claimed the spot, 13 laps later.

LAP 209: Kyle Larson, who was seemingly the only driver capable of racing with the championship 4 — with all 4 dominating the entire race such that the remainder of the field could not be seen — suddenly and strangely experienced engine failure and retired from the race. Oddly, there had not been any smoke or physical sign that something had gone wrong with the motor, nor had Larson’s radio communication signified that something was going wrong.  He suddenly said that he had “lost all power” and parked his #42 Chevrolet Camaro on pit road, where the crew no sooner put the hood up when they diagnosed engine failure and that was the end of anyone challenging the final four.

LAP 123: After Denny Hamlin was called to pit road, in an effort to short pit to get the lead, it forced the rest of the championship teams to respond. Unfortunately for the #19 of Truex Jr, it also forced the team into a mistake as they accidently switched the tires by putting the left-front on the right and the right-front on the left. Truex had to pit again to fix the problem which put him a lap down and gave the lead to Kyle Busch.

CAUTION – LAP 136: The first and only incident-related yellow flag of the race came rather unnecessarily for the #36 of John Hunter Nemechek. The #36 spun sideways in Turn 1, but corrected on the apron without interfering with other drivers. — no debris, no fluid on the track. The caution gave Truex a chance to get his lap back; however, problems continued for the #19 when he had a long pit stop due to an issue with the splitter. Truex came out of the pits in 7th position.

LAP 144: On the restart, Busch and Harvick began their battle again for the lead. This time, Harvick came away with the top spot.

STAGE 2 END – LAP 160:  Kyle Busch won the stage after passing Harvick just 3 laps prior to the end of the segment. Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 5. Busch held onto the lead on pit road and during the restart, his car seeming to come alive as the sun went down.

LAP 204: Busch continued to lead by 2.8 seconds as Hamlin started to hunt down P1. Hamlin had recieved a peptalk from his crew chief that appeared to help motivate and improve his performance, however, he never was able to catch Kyle Busch.

LAP 219: The #24 Chevrolet Camaro of William Byron exited the race early with low oil pressure in the engine.

LAP 221: After making a green-flag pit stop, Denny Hamlin began to loose water pressure due to a large piece of tape that was put over the grill to help with aerodynamics. The engine began to overheat as well, forcing Hamlin to pit again to remove the tape.  This stopped the overheating and stabilized the water pressure but left Hamlin 1 lap down.

LAP 224: Harvick and his #4 Ford team opted to stay out as they hoped for a caution, but he eventually came to pit road under green. When he cycled through the field, he landed in 5th place, 1 lap down. Though Harvick was able to unlap himself, he was still 19 seconds behind the lead. The strategy essentially eliminated Harvick from contention at the end of the race.

LAP 241: Busch continued to lead, having made his final pit stop much earlier in the run.

LAP 255: Denny Hamlin went to the inside of Kyle Busch and made the pass to unlap himself. However, Hamlin was still in 10th place with just 12 laps remaining and no hint of a caution.

CHECKERED FLAG – LAP 267: With virtually no cars out front, or even close behind, it was clear sailing for Kyle Busch as  he crossed the line to win not only the race but also the 2019 championship – the 2nd Cup title of his career. The win marked his 5th of the 2019 season, his 2nd win at Homestead and his 56th career win in the Cup series.

RESULTS: 

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Martin Truex Jr
  3. Erik Jones
  4. Kevin Harvick
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Ryan Newman
  8. Austin Dillon
  9. Alex Bowman
  10. Denny Hamlin
  11. Ryan Blaney
  12. Daniel Hemric
  13. Jimmie Johnson
  14. Daniel Suarez
  15. Chase Elliott
  16. Chris Buescher
  17. Paul Menard
  18. Brad Keselowski
  19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  20. Matt DiBenedetto
  21. Kurt Busch
  22. Aric Almirola
  23. John Hunter Nemechek
  24. Ty Dillon
  25. Ryan Preece
  26. Michael McDowell
  27. David Ragan
  28. Landon Cassill
  29. Drew Herring
  30. JJ Yeley
  31. Corey LaJoie
  32. BJ McLeod
  33. Timmy Hill
  34. Bubba Wallace
  35. Ross Chastain
  36. John Bilicki
  37. Reed Sorenson
  38. Joe Nemechek
  39. William Byron
  40. Kyle Larson

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