By Ben White
Driving the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Kyle Busch posted five victories and 27 top-10 finishes during the 2019 season as the Las Vegas native earned his second NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Busch’s season got off to a strong start. He finished second in the Daytona 500, sixth at Atlanta and third at Las Vegas before finding Victory Lane at Phoenix. He followed that with a second consecutive win at Auto Club Speedway before finishing 10th at Texas and winning again at Bristol to maintain his stranglehold on the points. A disappointing 30th-place finish at Kansas three races later dropped him to second in the standings, but the setback was far from insurmountable.
A third at Charlotte and a win at Pocono sent the message that Busch had the championship on his mind. He car was being prepared by crew chief Adam Stevens and their union was producing some very strong results, including winning the regular-season championship.
Aside from a 22nd-place finish at Chicago and 14th in the July race at Daytona, Busch knocked off finishes no worse than 11th over the next seven races through Richmond. Then, suspension issues surfaced at Charlotte’s ROVAL, producing a 37th-place finish.
In the final six races, Busch finished 19th at Talladega and 14th at Martinsville but a third at Kansas, seventh at Texas and a second at Phoenix earned him a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead along with Martin Truex Jr. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin.
Busch won the Homestead race after leading 40 of the 267 laps and by doing so, claimed the 2019 Cup Series championship. Truex Jr. ended up second in the title fight with Harvick third and Hamlin fourth.
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Driving the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Denny Hamlin logged six wins, 24 top-10 finishes and three pole positions in 36 starts for the season’s best stats line. In the closing laps of the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it was discovered that too much tape had been placed on the front of Hamlin’s Fed-Ex-sponsored ride, making the engine overheat. He fell from third to 10th in the final running order.
In the wreck-filled 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 14, three major crashes occurred before Ryan Blaney of Team Penske could claim victory. The third “big one” happened with seven laps remaining. Kyle Busch hit Brad Keselowski and collected Kevin Harvick, Brendan Gaughan and many others. On the last lap, Blaney made the winning move, bumping Newman’s car. Blaney won by .007 seconds, the sixth-closest finish in NASCAR history.
Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing M&M’s Toyota had five wins, 27 top-10 finishes and one pole in 36 starts.
Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Fed-Ex Toyota recorded six wins, 24 top-10 results and started from the pole three times.
2019 Season Recap
DATE | LOCATION | WINNER
Feb. 17 | Daytona International Speedway | Denny Hamlin
Feb. 24 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Brad Keselowski
March 3 | Las Vegas Motor Speedway | Joey Logano
March 10 | Phoenix Raceway | Kyle Busch
March 17 | Auto Club Speedway | Kyle Busch
March 24 | Martinsville Speedway | Brad Keselowski
March 31 | Texas Motor Speedway | Denny Hamlin
April 7 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Kyle Busch
April 13 | Richmond Raceway | Martin Truex Jr.
April 28 | Talladega Superspeedway | Chase Elliott
May 6 | Dover Motor Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.
May 11 | Kansas Speedway | Brad Keselowski
May 26 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.
June 2 | Pocono Raceway | Kyle Busch
June 10 | Michigan International Speedway | Joey Logano
June 23 | Sonoma Raceway | Martin Truex Jr.
June 30 | Chicagoland Speedway | Alex Bowman
July 7 | Daytona International Speedway | Justin Haley
July 13 | Kentucky Speedway | Kurt Busch
July 21 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Kevin Harvick
July 28 | Pocono Raceway | Denny Hamlin
Aug. 4 | Watkins Glen International | Chase Elliott
Aug. 11 | Michigan International Speedway | Kevin Harvick
Aug. 17 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Denny Hamlin
Sept. 1 | Darlington Raceway | Erik Jones
Sept. 8 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway | Kevin Harvick
Sept. 15 | Las Vegas Motor Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.
Sept. 21 | Richmond Raceway | Martin Truex Jr.
Sept. 29 | Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL | Chase Elliott
Oct. 6 | Dover Motor Speedway | Kyle Larson
Oct. 14 | Talladega Superspeedway | Ryan Blaney
Oct. 20 | Kansas Speedway | Denny Hamlin
Oct. 27 | Martinsville Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.
Nov. 3 | Texas Motor Speedway | Kevin Harvick
Nov. 10 | Phoenix Raceway | Denny Hamlin
Nov. 17 | Homestead-Miami Speedway | Kyle Busch