Following a devastating wreck in the 2015 Xfinity Series opener at Daytona International Speedway, Kyle Busch came back to win his first Cup championship that season.
Busch missed the first 11 races recovering from his injuries but made up for lost time by earning a career-best five wins that season (he also has five this season), including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway that clinched the Cup title for him.
But Busch has carried somewhat of an asterisk next to his name in that championship season in the eyes of some fans, who feel he won the title without a full 36-race, season-long effort.
Now, the younger Busch brother has a chance to finally put those criticisms to rest by winning the championship Sunday.
Crew chief: Adam Stevens
2017 wins: 5 (Pocono II, Bristol II, Loudon II, Dover II, Martinsville II)
2017 Top 10s: 21
Laps Led: 1,980 (second in series)
Championship 4 history: Won it in 2015; Made it in 2016, finished third.
Memorable race: Passed Martin Truex Jr. with 33 laps to go to cap off a dominating performance in second playoff race at Loudon, leading 187 of 300 laps. He then doubled up by also winning the following week at Dover.
Playoff march: Started slow with 15th-place finish at Chicagoland, but then won at Loudon to earn automatic berth in Round of 12, then won at Dover. He struggled in Round of 12: 29th at Charlotte and 27th at Talladega, but 10th place at Kansas was enough to advance to Round of 8. Martinsville win put him into championship race.
Why Busch will win the title: Capped off 2015 championship run with win at Homestead. Now, with more attention focused on Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick, that’s exactly the best position for Busch to be in, as he thrives in situations like this. Also, Adam Stevens is one of the best crew chiefs in the game. If the race is decided on strategy, it’ll be because of Stevens.
Why Busch won’t win the title: Homestead hasn’t exactly been friendly to Busch. In 12 starts, he has one win, two top fives and only five top 10s.
What Dale Jarrett says (on if there’s a driver better at handling pressure than the younger Busch brother: “No, not really. You can say Kevin Harvick might be one, but Kyle Busch has proven that he knows exactly what to do. He’s had his back up against the wall, he’s come back from adversity, he’s got a great team and understands exactly what has to happen in this situation. I think the way he deals with pressure is with just tremendous talent. He believes in what he can do in a race car that others can’t do and that’ll get him by any pressures that might beat him.”