Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Post-Race Notes & Quotes
Race 36 of 36 – 400.5 miles, 267 laps
Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015
TOYOTA NSCS DRIVER FINISHING POSITIONS at Homestead-Miami Speedway
1st, KYLE BUSCH
2nd, Kevin Harvick*
3rd, Brad Keselowski*
4th, Joey Logano*
5th, Kyle Larson
7th, MATT KENSETH
10th, DENNY HAMLIN
11th, CARL EDWARDS
27th, DAVID RAGAN
43rd, CLINT BOWYER
TOYOTA DRIVER NSCS POINT STANDINGS following Homestead-Miami Speedway**
1st, KYLE BUSCH 5043 points##
2nd, Kevin Harvick* 5042 points##
3rd, Jeff Gordon 5038 points##
4th, Martin Truex Jr.* 5032 points##
5th, CARL EDWARDS 2368 points
9th, DENNY HAMLIN 2327 points
15th, MATT KENSETH 2234 points
16th, CLINT BOWYER 2175 points
27th, DAVID RAGAN 701 points
##part of final 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship round
**unofficial point standings
Camry driver Kyle Busch won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) championship when he finished first in his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry in Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
This is Toyota’s first NSCS championship since entering the series in 2007.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s has now won four NSCS championship after also winning in 2000, 2002 and 2005.
Busch, who recovered from injuries sustained at the season-opening events at Daytona in February, missed 11 races and returned to win five races after returning in May en route to the championship title.
Camry driver Matt Kenseth (seventh) and Denny Hamlin (10th) also earned top-10 results at the season-finale event.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
How does it feel to battle back this year and win your first championship?
“It’s pretty unbelievable! A dream of a lifetime, a dream come true and something that only happens every so often. I just can’t believe with everything that happened this year and all the turmoil, all the things that I went through, that my wife (Samantha) went through and the people that are around me went through. This championship is all for these guys, my wife, my family, everyone who has had to sacrifice so much to get me here to this place today, whether it was on my team right now, or on my teams in the past. It’s really awesome, awesome, awesome – I can’t thank M&M’s enough. M&M’s Crispy is a phenomenal sponsor – I love the family, they are so great and with us here today. This is a long time coming for them. They’ve been in this sport two, maybe three times as long as I have been here and this is their first opportunity for a championship. I can’t thank Toyota enough, I had a very fast Toyota Camry tonight. Adam Stevens (crew chief) prepared such a great race car. Adam Stevens is my hero – I love that guy. I’m glad I could get the fifth win to get him a little bit more of a race for next year, that’s pretty awesome. I can’t thank Interstate Batteries enough, Monster Energy for sticking with me and all my fans. All the Kyle Busch fans out there –man I appreciate all you guys so much, everyone that follows me through the thick and the thin, through the good and the bad and all the ones that are always behind me – you guys are awesome! Everyone here, you guys are awesome, too. This is a dream come true, a dream come true.”
Did you think you could recover from your injuries and these types of results?
“Oh yeah, no doubt. I said back then, I’ll say it again. The rehab of getting back, getting ready and focused – all that was the hardest part and the hardest thing I have ever gone through. To put it all together and be here tonight, this wasn’t that hard but I have one special driver in Tony Stewart come see me and he helped me through a lot of that stuff. I’ve had about six or seven here tonight and it’s pretty awesome to have that opportunity to be here and to see guys like this one right here (Jeff Gordon), Mr. Four Time.”
What does it mean to win this championship and beat your childhood racing hero Jeff Gordon?
“I don’t know that you could have scripted it any better. For him to be in his last year and go out, I wish I could have beat him sooner in that time when he was still running and had another year to go after it. Man, to have a shot with these four final drivers – Martin Truex Jr. is one of the best at Homestead, Kevin Harvick is one of the best the last two years and Jeff Gordon one of the all-time – to go up against those guys tonight and to score this victory for this No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry is phenomenal. I can’t be remised without thanking coach (Joe) Gibbs (team owner) and his family and J.D. is here tonight. J.D. was the first selfie over there in turn one – that was so cool. This night is just all about these guys, these people that have poured their heart and soul into this program.”
How has being a dad changed you as a race car driver and your perspective on life?
“It sure did. I’ve never dreamed anything so little could be so happy, but he’s such a cool little dude. He’s always smiling and always having fun, except about four a.m., that’s daddy time, that’s a little rough. It’s all worth it in the end. Samantha (wife) and I, for what she went through, what we went through this year and to have Brexton (son) this year is pretty cool on 5-18-15 – so cool to have him and have him be a part of all of this here tonight and to celebrate with his father. He won’t remember what this meant today, but maybe one day he’ll understand what it means.”
How were you able to take the lead and get the win after that final restart?
“I knew it was time to go. I don’t know why Brad (Keselowski) chose to the bottom, but he gave me the top and I thought, ‘This is interesting.’ It did put (Kevin) Harvick behind me so I knew I just had to protect whatever Harvick tried to do if he was going to shoot the middle or shoot the gap or whatever it was going to be. Man, I don’t think I got hit, I think I just got a really good restart and then just got going. I don’t know if Brad spun his tires or what. We got to turns one and two and we were pretty even, I just looked into four and gave it everything I had those last seven or eight laps. This Toyota Camry was awesome and Adam Stevens (crew chief) made a phenomenal adjustment on the last pit stop to get me exactly what I needed for those last eight laps and drive away.”
Did you think you could be here celebrating the championship after the accident you had at Daytona?
No, not in a million years, I never would have dreamed this moment to finish this year. This is so unbelievable but so awesome at the same time. I can’t thank M&M’s enough, everyone at M&M’s – the family, the company, all our supporters there from Snickers and Skittles, Pedigree, American Heritage – it’s just been so awesome to have them standing behind me for all these years and to give me these opportunities to come out here and race their car and do the best I can. From there it’s Toyota and their love and support – those guys are awesome and amazing. TRD (Toyota Racing Development) gave me a great engine tonight – it was so fast and our car drove so good because of Adam Stevens (crew chief) because of what he did and what he can do and what this company is about at Joe Gibbs Racing. So cool to get Joe Gibbs (team owner) and J.D. Gibbs (president) and the family and the whole company – everyone back at the shop, thank you guys for building me such a fantastic race car this weekend. To put it all together and win this championship goes back to JGR – that trophy isn’t mine, this is everyone’s here. I wanted to come back from rehab and do everything I could do to power through and be stronger than ever for everyone here and pay them back for all they’ve sacrificed in their lives for me.”
What are you immediate thoughts on winning the championship?
“This is just so unbelievable, so amazing and means so much right here, right now and probably will for a long, long time to come, but just the opportunity that the amount of people that have poured their life and soul into everything that Kyle Busch does and is about – from M&M’s to Toyota to Snickers and Twix and Skittles, STANLEY, Joe Gibbs (team owner) and his family and all of Joe Gibbs Racing, everyone that gave me such a fast race car here tonight to drive. It was so much fun. This is just a dream come true and my family, my wife, my son – to have him this year and to have everything we’ve gone through this year to be in this moment – I don’t know what else to say, but this is so special.”
What happened after the last restart?
“Yeah, I wasn’t sure exactly how all that was going to go down. I didn’t want to see a yellow, obviously. We had a really good buffer to (Kevin) Harvick there under green, but my guys gave me a flawless pit stop. They did a great job. I tried to hit my marks the best I could and then on the restart I just knew don’t spin your tires. If you spin them a little bit, at least get them reattached – don’t matter if you lose a little bit of ground to who’s in front of you, just make sure you have a good run getting into Turn 1 and keep Harvick behind me. Did all of those things, got to Turn 1 side-by-side with (Brad) Keselowski and, man, I just put it on kill and held it wide open through there and was able to get by Keselowski there and anybody that got out front especially on new tires they could drive away and it felt so good to be out there at that moment. This M&M’s Camry – it drove so good that it loved the bottom all night long. I don’t know that we’ve ever seen a car here do that.”
What did you learn during your absence due to injury?
“I guess you’re a lot tougher than you really realize whether it’s physically and mentally, but I had to put everything I had into rehab and everything I had into being able to walk and to get through everything that I was going through. My wife was there to power me through and my dog, Lucy, was barking at me to get me through it too. I was just trying to get prepared for my son’s birth and make sure that I could be there for the hospital trip and be able to stand and support Samantha and not worry about being in a wheelchair and stuck on the side of the room, you know? That wasn’t what it was going to be all about, so I had a little man pushing for me to get better and it was certainly a lot of things that you learn and there’s certainly a lot of things in life that I don’t know that you’ll ever fully understand and this year is certainly one of those for myself, but it’s so great to be in this spot right now and to count the blessings that we have. I can’t say enough and thank the good Lord above.”
SAMANTHA BUSCH, wife, No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What does this championship mean to you and your life with Kyle?
“This is amazing. I don’t think people know how hard he worked. What we both went through this year from trying to get pregnant with this one to the accident to fighting his way back – it’s absolutely amazing. He’s (Brexton, son) has been the greatest blessing. It’s just a storybook year. I’m so proud of Kyle (Busch) and the team. It’s truly – I can’t even tell you my emotions right now – this is absolutely amazing.”
JOE GIBBS, owner, No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What does it mean to give Toyota their first Sprint Cup Series championship?
“There’s so many firsts to this. We have M&M’s – it’s their first and they’ve been in racing for 25 years. It’s Toyota’s first and it’s awesome that Bob Carter and everyone is here. We’ve got Kyle’s (Busch) first. We have Adam’s (Stevens) first – can you believe a rookie crew chief. We have Norm Miller from Interstate Batteries – he’s had two. It’s really a total team effort. I want to say thanks to all the fans, the Lord has blessed us with an awesome group of guys back here. And everyone back at home, too – for everybody back at the shop, the Lord has blessed us with a great group of guys and we want to say a big thanks to the Lord for this. This is awesome!”
ADAM STEVENS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How did you win a championship in your first Sprint Cup Series year?
“I leaned on Kyle Busch pretty heavily. You just have to get him close – that’s the beauty of Kyle and his talent, skill and dedication. His feedback is so good, I think anybody could adjust on his car tonight and all year, really. The total strength of JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) with all the wins we’ve had and how competitive we’ve been – it could be any one of the teams right here right now if you shook the Chase up and reran it again. I’m just proud of everyone at home and JGR and TRD for all the total team effort and team work. I’m thrilled to be a part of Kyle Busch’s career. He’s a future Hall of Famer and to be anywhere close to him is amazing for me.”
How does it feel to be a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion?
“You know, Sonoma hasn’t even sunk in yet. To be here in victory lane and have a championship, you’re going to have to come back to me in about a month or so and I’ll tell you what it all means, but I am so proud of this a team and this b team and the 550 employees at Joe Gibbs Racing and everybody TRD (Toyota Racing Development) for making this a championship effort. If you shook it up one more time in this whole Chase, it could have been any one of our teammates in this same position – that’s how strong JGR is, so I couldn’t be prouder of their efforts and we’ve got something to celebrate now.”
Are you going to enjoy celebrating this championship?
“I’m going to. Count on that.”
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 7th
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 10th
CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 ARRIS Tools Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 11th
DAVID RAGAN, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 27th
How was your final race with MWR?
“I think we could have had a pretty good finish tonight. I nearly had that wreck missed early but the crew did a great job making repairs. I don’t know what was wrong with our brakes there at the end. I wish we could have finished better and sent Michael Waltrip Racing out with a top finish. I have enjoyed my time this season driving for MWR. I really appreciate everything Aaron’s, Toyota and all of our team’s partners have done to make me feel at home this year. The employees have been great and I am going to miss them, but I know I have made a lot of new friends this season.”
JJ YELEY, No. 26 Maxim Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position: 34th
MATT DiBENEDETTO, No. 83 Cosmo Toyota Camry, BK Racing
Finishing Position: 37th
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 43rd
What happened to take you out of the race?
“I don’t know what in the hell happened to our car. I was kind of optimistic about the race. We made a pit stop there and the car was just a way big handful there. I don’t know, I was coming off of (turn) 2 there and Ty (Dillon) kind of got squirrely and I tried to stay off of him and my car got loose and I just couldn’t catch it. I don’t know, we just lost the handling on our car big time there. Unfortunately ended – you hate to end this way. I wanted to end on a strong note for everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing). Appreciate all of their hard work and efforts all these years but unfortunately it’s over.”