Busch wins NASCAR Trucks finale at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, Fla (AP) – As Todd Bodine got another chance to celebrate his NASCAR Camping World Trucks series title, Kyle Busch was hoping he could translate his victory in the less-publicized owners’ points championship into sponsorship for next season.
Busch made a mad dash back from a crash to win the season finale Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, taking his series-high eighth victory of the season in only 16 starts – and winning the owners’ title for the first-year team that the Sprint Cup star owns himself.
And Busch didn’t waste any time trying to turn that success into a plea to potential sponsors, even making an appeal during a television interview in Victory Lane.
“It’s very tough, and it’s very unfortunate, too,” Busch said. “Because I feel like we’ve got a great product.”
Busch said he has had plenty of discussions with potential sponsors, but he’s coming up short on commitments.
“I can’t get the pen to paper,” Busch said.
It was an emotional victory for crew chief Eric Phillips. He said winning at Homestead brought up memories of close friend John Nemechek, who died after a crash at Homestead in 1997.
“I just wanted to win tonight,” Phillips said, choking back tears. “It’s just such a big deal.”
Busch took the lead from Ron Hornaday Jr. on a restart with four laps to go, then ran away for the win.
Busch has 23 victories this year in NASCAR’s top three series, also winning 12 Nationwide races and three times in Sprint Cup.
In the final owners’ standings, Busch finished 150 points ahead of Steve Germain, who owns Bodine’s truck.
Hornaday was second in the race, followed by Johnny Sauter – whose collision with Busch earlier in the race appeared to end Busch’s chances of winning.
Bodine finished fourth, a week after clinching the series drivers’ championship with a 12th-place finish at Phoenix.
“I never thought I would be a one-time winner, let alone a two-time winner,” Bodine said. “So that’s a pretty big honor for us.”
Until his charge in the late stages of the race, it was looking like a rough night for Busch.
He was running with the leaders when Sauter collided with him and sent him hard into the wall with 32 laps to go. Busch was able to continue but got a flat tire a few laps later and had to make a lengthy pit stop, putting him outside the top 20.
“Just close racing,” Sauter said. “Like I said, I was just overzealous, I guess.”
Sitting next to Sauter in the postrace news conference, Hornaday joked that he wished Sauter had hit Busch a little harder so Hornaday would have a better chance of winning the race.
The race was red-flagged with 23 laps to go when John Jackson ran hard into impact-absorbing barrels at the end of the pit wall. The accident scattered sand from the barrels on the track, leading to a delay of nearly 20 minutes for cleanup. Jackson was not seriously injured in the incident.
Busch made a furious charge through the field on the restart, working his way up to second by the time Elliott Sadler spun out to bring out a caution with nine laps to go. Hornaday led Busch to a restart with four to go but Busch went right around him when the green flag fell, and Hornaday couldn’t catch back up.
Bodine celebrated his title by praising his team, boasting that he thinks they would be able to compete in Cup if they had the funding to make the jump up.
“It shows the character of this team and what it’s about, to be able to do this year in and year out, this consistent, shows the character of what we’re all about,” Bodine said. “Never give up.”