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article imageNASCAR: Busch wins his first title as Gordon takes his final laps

By John Duarte     Nov 23, 2015 in Sports
Homestead - With many of the eyes of NASCAR-nation locked on Jeff Gordon, as he raced off into the sunset, Kyle Busch seized the opportunity and became the 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion.
While it was a magical season for NASCAR as one of the legends of the sport took the last laps of his career, Busch had a magical season of his own on the way to winning his first title.
“This is just a dream come true,” Busch said from the championship stage at Homestead-Miami Speedway after out racing Sprint Cup defending champion Kevin Harvick to take the title. “To have everything we've gone through this year to be here at this moment — I don't know what else to say, but this is so special.”
It was a long and difficult road for Busch, who missed the first 11 races of 2015 after a serious accident at Daytona International Speedway during an NASCAR Xfinity Series. His right leg and left foot were broken and any hopes he had to make a run at the Sprint Cup title would seemingly have to wait for another year. But Busch wasn't done. By mid-May he was ready to return to active racing and salvage what was left of the season.
NASCAR did their part. The organization granted Busch a waiver that would allow him to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup provided he won at least one race and finish in the Top 30 in the drivers standings. It still seemed an incredulous road to drive.
It took Busch just one month to overcome the first obstacle. He won his first race of the season at Sonoma Raceway, on June 29. The win was enough to meet part of the criteria set out by NASCAR officials, but Busch followed that up with three more wins in the next four races. He might have won a fourth-straight race if he had not run out of gas on the final lap at Pocono Raceway.
“We just wanted to come back and get back into a rhythm of things and finish Top 20, finish Top 15, get some Top 10s. I didn't want to come back and not be ready to contend for Top 5s,” he said at the time, after winning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We've certainly exceeded our expectations. This is a run that anybody would have never imagined, including myself, or my wife, or my team. We're going to bask in a moment and enjoy it.”
Busch didn't “bask” for very long however. He knew that all the wins would be for naught unless he broke in to the Top 30 in the standings and made the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Busch was in 32nd place on the grid, 23 points short of being in qualifying position allowing him to make a run at the Sprint Cup championship. He had six races to pass that second obstacle.
Sixteen races later, Busch hoisted the Sprint Cup over his head.
“This is so unbelievable, so amazing and it means so much to be right here, right now and probably will for a long, long time to come,” he said.
Even Gordon, a four-time NASCAR champion and legend in the sport making his final competitive Sprint Cup Series start, seemed in awe of Busch's accomplishment.
“His talent is so strong. When he came back, not only was he driven and just inspired by it, but you can tell he was racing smarter, with more patience, just being more deliberate,” said Gordon, after finishing sixth in the Ford Ecoboost 400. “I think he showed right away when he came back that there was a pretty good chance he was destined to win this championship.”
Harvick made a run at Busch in hopes of passing him to win the race and retain his championship, but came up short and finished second in the race. Afterwards, Harvick praised the man who wrestled his crown.
“He broke his leg at Daytona and to come back from everything that he came back from,” Harvick said. “That's a great comeback story from where he was after Daytona.”
Martin Truex Jr., the fourth of the final four with a chance to win the Sprint Cup championship, finished 12th in the race and in the final drivers standings.
For the second straight week, rain delayed the start of the race. Unlike last week when it took hours to get underway, the start of the Ford Ecoboost 400 was set back one hour and 35 minutes.
NASCAR nation now takes two months off before returning on Feb. 13, 2016 with the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway. One day following that, qualifying begins for the 2016 Daytona 500, which runs on Feb. 21.
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