Kyle Busch goes where no driver has before: to victory lane at every track

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Sunday night, Kyle Busch led 377 of 400 laps in the Coca-Cola 600 and did something no other driver has ever done. He completed a sweep of victory lane at every track on which he has ever competed at the Cup level.

“This one’s very special,” Busch said from victory lane. “I don’t think there’s anything that can top Homestead (in 2015), just with the meaning of what the championship is, but the Coca-Cola 600 – I’ve dreamt of this race since I was a kid and being able to win this race.”

Busch’s Coke 600 win was the 47th time he won at NASCAR’s top level. Remarkably, those 47 wins have come on 23 different tracks, which makes him one of the most versatile drivers in NASCAR history.

The journey began at Auto Club Speedway in fall 2005 during his first full year at the Cup level, racing for Hendrick Motorsports.

With Hendrick, Busch was able to win only four times in three fulltime seasons together on four different tracks.

One of these came at Bristol Motor Speedway, which became his most productive track with seven wins. The latest of these came in this year’s Food City 500.

Busch’s second-most productive track is Richmond Raceway with five wins. Add a pair of wins at Martinsville Speedway, and Busch has 14 short track wins.

Otherwise, he has not scored more than three victories on a single course.

Busch has never suffered through a winless season, although he posted only single victories in 2006, 2007, 2012 and 2014.

His most productive season was 2008 when he won eight times, but finished only ninth in the standings.

Busch has a single victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but counts it among his greatest achievements because it brought with it the 2015 Cup championship.

“I don’t want to go to any new ones,” Busch said. “That would just have to start the whole process over.”

Unfortunately, he is going to have to tackle a new course this year when NASCAR returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway to visit the Roval, but he has an opportunity to win out of the gate. Four of his 47 wins have come on road courses with two at Sonoma Raceway and a pair at Watkins Glen International.

Here are how the wins break down:

Bristol Motor Speedway: 7
Richmond Raceway: 5
Martinsville Speedway: 2
14 total short track wins

Texas Motor Speedway: 3
Atlanta Motor Speedway: 2
Kentucky Speedway: 2
Charlotte Motor Speedway: 1
Chicagoland Speedway: 1
Homestead-Miami Speedway: 1
Kansas Speedway: 1
Las Vegas Speedway: 1
12 1.5-mile wins

Dover International Speedway: 3
New Hampshire International Speedway: 3
Phoenix International Raceway: 1
7 one-mile track wins

Auto Club Speedway: 3
Michigan International Speedway: 1
4 two-mile track wins

Sonoma Raceway: 2
Watkins Glen International: 2
4 road course wins

Daytona International Speedway: 1
Talladega Superspeedway: 1
2 restrictor plate superspeedway wins

Indianapolis Motor Speedway: 2
Pocono Raceway: 1
Darlington Raceway: 1

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Miami

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Here is who NBC’s writers think will win today’s race at Miami (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

Dustin Long

Kyle Busch wins the race and the championship.

Nate Ryan

Denny Hamlin continues his streak of seasons with at least one victory; Kevin Harvick wins the title.

Daniel McFadin

Erik Jones wins the race, but Martin Truex Jr. claims the title.

Dan Beaver

Joey Logano was my dark horse pick prior to practice, but the speed he showed on Saturday has made him a favorite.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps discusses multiple topics in media session

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. — NASCAR President Steve Phelps met with the media for about 40 minutes Sunday, answering various questions about the sport.

Here’s a synopsis of some of the topics he discussed:

On the transition in NASCAR’s leadership that includes Jim France as interim Chairman and CEO: “You have seen Jim France at all the races since Michigan. He goes to driver councils, (manufacturer) councils, team councils, Jim is involved in the business in a significant way.”

On the 2019 rules package: “The rules package was put in place because we want to have the most competitive racing that we can. We believe the 2019 rules package does exactly that. … We do believe that this racing, which today arguably is the best we’ve ever had, is going to get better. We have a promise to our fans and that promise is about close, competitive side-by-side racing and we believe this 2019 rules package will give us exactly that.”

On the inspection process: “We’re going to look at the inspection process. Will there be changes to it? There might be.”

On if Brian France be back as Chairman: “I can’t speak to whether Brian is coming back or not. I do know that Jim France is our Chairman and CEO. I do know that Jim France is incredibly involved in this sport.”

On trying to find new ownership of teams: “I think it comes back to making sure that owning a race team is something that is not a hobby. It is a business. You need to have people that love it. Roger Penske loves racing. We need to make sure we find that next Roger Penske, we find that next Jack Roush, we find that next Rick Hendrick.”

On what is realistic to expect on changes to the schedule: “I think everything is in play. We’ve heard from our fan base that they would like to see more short track racing, they want to see more road courses, they want to see less cookie-cutter tracks, whatever that means. We are looking with our broadcast partners and with our tracks and teams and drivers to get input on what each of them believes would be an idea schedule and then we’re obviously doing fan research as a part of it. Do I believe that everything is on the table? I do. Will we see a lot of the things that have been talked about? So more short tracks, more road courses, doubleheaders, mid-week racing, pulling the season forward, all those things would be in play. Don’t know what’s going to happen, but we are working diligently on what a 2020 schedule would be.”

On if IndyCar and NASCAR could race at the same track on the same weekend: I know that there are people that would like to see that. I think it would be a good show. We would have to figure out how that works.

On how NASCAR can bridge the gap so a driver who performs on track (such as Truck champion Brett Moffitt, who does not have a ride for 2019) can help such drivers with rides: “Listen, Brett Moffitt is obviously a very talented race car driver who has won more this year obviously than he’s ever won.  He has a bright future. What that future looks like, I don’t know.  What I do know is that we work with race teams from a revenue standpoint as much as we can. We also work with drivers to try to bridge driver opportunities. Are we always successful in getting a driver who wants to be driving in whatever series they want to drive in? No. But there are a lot of historical things that we have done to try to make sure that if a driver is interested in continuing that that driver has that opportunity.”

Click here for full transcript of Steve Phelps media session

Today’s Cup race at Miami: Start time, lineup and more

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The NASCAR season comes to a close today with the Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and defending champion Martin Truex Jr. will decide the title.

Whoever has the best finish, wins the championship.

Here’s all the info you need for the season finale.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Actor Josh Dallas of NBC’s “Manifest” will give the command to start engines at 3:11 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:20 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 9 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:30 p.m. Moment of silence for David Pearson at 3:03 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Sr. Master Sergeant Ryan Carson will perform the anthem at 3:05 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. with NASCAR America on NBCSN and switches to NBC at 1:30 p.m. Countdown to Green beings at 2 p.m. on NBC. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 1:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 82 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Martin Truex Jr. led the final 51 laps to win the race and championship over Kyle Busch.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the complete starting grid.

Tony Stewart says JGR made ‘very smart decision’ on pit stall picks

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Tony Stewart, whose organization will compete against Joe Gibbs Racing for the Cup title Sunday, said he has no problems with JGR’s decision to have Denny Hamlin’s team not take the No. 1 pit stall so Kyle Busch, who is racing for the crown, can have it.

Hamlin’s team had the first pick of pit stalls after winning the pole but did not choose the No. 1 stall since that team is not running for a title. Busch, who starts second and whose team had the second pick, then took the No. 1 stall.

MORE: Denny Hamlin reacts to giving up the No. 1 pit stall to Kyle Busch

MORE: Cup pit stall assignments

“It’s a smart decision,” said Stewart, who will have Kevin Harvick racing for the Cup crown Sunday. “If we were in the same position, I would hope we would be smart enough to do the same thing. I’ve already seen all the drama and the people complaining either way.

“These four teams are here to win a championship and if your organization can help you do that and give you every tool available to get that done, you’re stupid to not do it.

“I’m behind what JGR did 100 percent. You have to do that. You have to put yourself in the best position to win the race and the championship. They made a very, very smart decision.”

Car owner Joe Gibbs defended his decision because Busch is running for a championship and Hamlin.

“We’re going to do everything we can to win the race there, but we also, for us, have a championship on the line and what we would love to do is win that championship,” Gibbs said. “That’s how the decision was made for us.

“I think if there is any criticism, it goes to me.”