Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Driver Finishes 29th in Season Finale
Date: Nov. 22, 2015
Event: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season Finale (Round 36 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 36th/29th (Running, completed 265 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 28th with 695 points
Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Champion: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing
After rising to 19th from his 36th-place starting spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Tony Stewart was on his way toward securing a solid finish in the 267-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval.
But when a multicar accident involving Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Casey Mears, Aric Almirola and Ty Dillon clogged up the backstretch on lap 47, Stewart’s No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS became collateral damage.
As Stewart slowed to avoid the crash, he was hit from behind, which sandwiched his car between two others cars, badly damaging the front end and sides of his Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 machine. Numerous trips to pit road were needed to make repairs, and while the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) squad worked fast and got Stewart back onto the racetrack without losing a lap, the car was damaged just enough to impact performance.
The alignment of the front end was off, interior sheet metal that had been ripped away affected the car’s aerodynamics, and damage to the header pipes curtailed engine performance. It all conspired to leave Stewart two laps down in 29th-place when the checkered flag dropped.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent at Homestead by finishing second. Harvick led once for 46 laps en route to his 13th second-place finish of the season. It was his 23rd top-five of 2015 and his seventh top-five in 15 career Sprint Cup starts at Homestead. The finish was also Harvick’s 28th top-10 of 2015, eclipsing his previous single-season career-best of 26 top-10s in 2010. Harvick finishes the 2015 season with 2,294 laps led, breaking his single-season record of 2,137 laps led in 2014 as he raced to the Sprint Cup championship.
Harvick was one of four drivers contending for the championship at Homestead, with his fellow title contenders being Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr. Busch scored the race victory to claim the 2015 Sprint Cup championship.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR and Kyle’s older brother, finished eighth. It was his third-straight top-10 finish, his 21st of 2015 and his sixth top-10 in 15 career Sprint Cup starts at Homestead.
With Kurt Busch having won the Sprint Cup championship in 2004 and now Kyle Busch a Sprint Cup champion, the Busch brothers join Terry and Bobby Labonte as the only brothers to win Sprint Cup championships. Terry Labonte won titles in 1984 and 1996 and Bobby Labonte earned his championship in 2000.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 24th at Homestead.
Kyle Busch’s victory in the season finale was his 34th career Sprint Cup victory, his fifth of the season and his first at Homestead. Harvick finished 1.552 seconds behind Kyle Busch in the runner-up spot, while Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five. Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin comprised the remainder of the top-10. There were seven caution periods for 30 laps, with two drivers failing to finish.
The 2016 Sprint Cup season kicks off Feb. 12-21 with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 58th Daytona 500, the first point-paying race of the season, is scheduled for Feb. 21 and will be broadcast live on FOX.