For the second consecutive year, Kyle Busch has won the regular-season championship in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
In addition to adding a trophy to his collection, Busch also pockets an additional 15 playoff points. He already has a series-leading 30 playoff points, and there is one weekend, Indianapolis, to go before the postseason starts.
“That’s good,” said Busch of the feat. “Obviously, we set out to do that here a few weeks back, and we knew when the 22 (Joey Logano) passed us and got the lead from us it was going to be hard to get it back. But fortunately we went back into stage racing a little bit more and trying to get some of those stage points, and that helped us, and they weren’t able to capitalize on stage points.
“We got one more week here with the Brickyard 400. Hopefully, we can win that thing and then everything starts.”
Busch retook the overall points lead from Logano after the Watkins Glen race at the start of August. Before that, Logano had been in firm control of the top spot for seven weeks. The two former series champions have spent much of the season trading the points lead with the only other driver being able to claim to have led the standings this season, Denny Hamlin.
Logano’s advantage over Busch started to diminish after a 13-place finish at Pocono, the start of what has been a four-race stretch in which he’s finished outside the top 10. Busch, meanwhile, has been on a hot streak with five top-10 finishes in the last six races.
“It’s huge,” Busch said of the additional 15 playoff points. “With however well you can run through the whole beginning part of the season (to) build those points, they help you through every round because every round you get to carry those points.
“It’s probably the most fair points system we’ve had, although I’d much rather just say that we could have the old pre-Chase points system and I’d be happy with that considering how consistent we can be and how we are.”
Busch clinched the title following a third-place finish in the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. In a position to challenge for his fifth win of the season, Busch was chasing Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones when he repeatedly hit the wall over the final few laps.
“I was just trying to run down the 20 with being too tight – I was too tight behind him the whole last run of the race, and couldn’t make enough ground on him,” said Busch. “You get too close, and you get in the wake, and you just lose the car, and I did. Got in the fence a little bit, and then got in the fence again the next lap a little more, and that was it. Blew a tire.”
Even if Busch had not hit the wall, he said he still would not have been able to pass Jones regardless of how close he had gotten.
“I wasn’t going to get there,” he said. “I wasn’t going to get there. He had it. He had it the whole time once he beat us off pit road. That’s how this package is. Y’all want to look at the eyeball test and say it’s great racing, but we can’t pass.”