Camry driver Kyle Busch earned the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) championship when he took the green flag on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The championship marks the first NNS driver's title for Toyota and the first NASCAR championship for the 24-year old Las Vegas-native.
Busch won his ninth NNS race of 2009 and 15th for Toyota this season when he took the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch also become the first driver since 1983 (Sam Ard) to win both the season-finale and the championship in the series.
Camry drivers Joey Logano (fourth), Denny Hamlin (fifth), David Reutimann (sixth) and Scott Speed (ninth) also earned top-10 finishes.
Jason Leffler (18th), Michael Annett (21st), Justin Marks (32nd) and Chase Miller (37th) were also in the field.
This season, Camry drivers had 15 victories, 68 top-fives, 127 top-10 finishes, and have led 3,854 laps.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
What are you thinking after winning the race and the championship? "It's been a while since that's been done. I don't mean to be selfish, but that's the way for these guys to go out. They deserve it. This whole team and all these guys that work so hard on this Z-Line Designs Camry. I can't thank Toyota enough, I can't thank Z-Line, NOS Energy Drink, the Nationwide Series, thank all the fans - not just here in Homestead, but across NASCAR's nation here. Of course Jim (Sexton, president and CEO of Z-Line Designs) and Monica (Sexton) are here to help us celebrate tonight and Marquis Jets, Gillette and everybody that's been on board and a part of our program this year. This is huge. My mom and dad are here tonight, my brother came up to me before the race knowing that all we had to do was take the green flag - this is cool. I wish I could have been with Kurt (Busch) in 2004 winning the championship. This one here means a whole lot for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and everybody at JGR - all the guys that work so hard at building these things, not just in the Nationwide shop, but in the Cup shop, the fab shop, everybody. Joe and J.D. Gibbs and everybody is here - Norm Miller from Interstate Batteries, it's just great."
What were your thoughts with Carl Edwards coming on fresh tires on the last lap? "It was a little nerving, I knew Carl (Edwards) would be coming with fresh tires - he was really fast. I was hoping Jeff Burton could hold him up long enough to help burn his tires off a little bit before he got free and chased me down. I was just trying to hit my marks every single time. I finally found something, I couldn't find it all race long and in the broadcast I said I couldn't find anything. Finally, with about 40 (laps) to go I found something there and kept running in that lane. It prevailed and it paid off for us. I was able to keep my momentum going and keep those guys behind me. He bonsaied me there and I wasn't quite sure if we were going to connect there. What a close race that might have been for the fans to watch and everybody - I'm sure it was exciting on TV knowing Carl (Edwards) and what he did at Kansas last year. Glad he missed us and we were able to come out on top."
How was tonight's race for you? "It was a tough race for sure. We weren't the best car here for a long time. All the guys made some great race calls, Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and everybody else. That's why we're a championship team and that's why we made it here tonight is because these guys can fight through stuff and we made some adjustments to the car that really brought it to life and I was able to pass those guys on that restart and get up towards the front and lead those laps. When that last caution came out, I knew Carl (Edwards) was going to try to do the same thing that I just did. I was worried that he was going to get back to us."
Does this championship make running races in all three series worth it? "It is, it's definitely worth it. I love being able to race as many vehicles as I can and this championship right here defines all that and being able to race as many vehicles as I can race and still be able to produce - I feel like a lot of these tracks I'm good at. About every track I'm good at. There's not really a track that I'm super at and then a track that I'm not that good at. I'm just good at all of them. Being able to do that and work with these guys and make our cars better."
Where does this rank in your career accomplishments?
"This is the biggest one - this is it. It hasn't sunk in yet and it probably won't for a couple of days. Carl (Edwards) told me before the race, 'When I won the championship it didn't mean that much to me the day of, but once it got to the following season and you were called champ or reigning champ or whatever, it really means a lot and really hits home.' Thank Nationwide for the series and for helping support the series and all they've done for us. It's a great year and it's a tribute to all these guys. Everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and all these guys on this team - everybody at the fab shop, the engine shop, chassis shop. These cars are phenomenal and it takes a lot of work in order to get these done. We've had a really strong season and those guys behind us had a really strong season as well - it wasn't that we just barely lucked into this thing. We won it and we won it in good style."
What does it mean that the last series champion to win the final race was Sam Ard? "That brings a smile to my face, just the relationship that I've had with Sam (Ard) and what I've been able to talk to him so far. That's the history of this sport - that's what those guys are all about. Sam (Ard) and I have some records together and I've broken some of his and I've broken other people's records, but none of them mean as much as being able to win a race at the season finale and really solidify your championship and put icing on the cake."
JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How does it feel to be a championship crew chief? "Incredible. When you stop and think about it, it becomes a little bit emotional. To think about what we're able to do - the blessings that we've been blessed with all season long. Kyle (Busch) and this whole team, what we've been able to accomplish as a group. I don't know, I don't have the words for it right now. It's just awesome to be able to put those goals up there in front of us and go out there and achieve them. We did everything we set out to do and then even more than we expected. I don't know if we can ever have another season like this, but we're going to try." What can you say about the records that Kyle Busch has broken this season? "He's (Kyle Busch) incredible. He deserves every record he broke and his name deserves to by it. We're just glad that we could be a part of it. This group of guys, I've been working with this group for more than four years now and they just never quit. They just keep on, keep on, keep on. We kind of challenge each other. Kyle (Busch) challenges us when we finish second and then we challenge him in situations like tonight where we make a decent call and get him out front and then he's got to step up on the wheel and show what he's all about."
JOE GIBBS, team owner, Joe Gibbs Racing
What does it mean to win the Nationwide championship? "I think these are things that -- the great things in life are the memories that you have and that you don't forget, and I remember standing out one time after a Super Bowl, and I turned to Charles Manning, and he said to me, the thrill was getting here, everything that you had to do to get here, all the times you've fought, and you have a wreck, you have this, you have that, things that happen. The thing I told Kyle before we started, to me what impresses me is this car ran great all year. I mean, super all year, and we went all the way to the last race before we could win the championship. So it shows you how hard this is."
J.D. GIBBS, president, Joe Gibbs Racing
What does this championship mean for your team? "This is such a big deal for us and these are so hard to come by. I think Nationwide, Cup - it's just a blessing for us. To watch Kyle (Busch) and the way he worked through the season and worked with Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and all the guys coming together - that's a big deal. For us, we'll celebrate this and this one is going to last quite a while."
What has Kyle Busch learned about winning championships? "What he's kind of learned over here, we've taken a lot of seconds, a lot of thirds - they're not fun to take. On the Cup side, that's taking your fifths, your 10ths, and you just learn that when you're running for a championship there's certain things that are required there."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 GameStop Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing @Finishing Position: 4th
How was tonight's race for you? "It was a rough one. We weren't good enough to win by no means. We got out in the lead for a little bit, but I knew we weren't good enough to be up there. We finished fourth and that's where we ran. I think that's where we should have run. I felt like there at the end when the leaders pitted and we stayed out, I said, 'We ain't going to win the way we are so let's go for the gold and try something different.' That didn't work for us so then we got the last caution and we tried to go for the gold again and get some new tires. My race car just wasn't fast enough, we were digging hard. Everyone did a great job, just missed it by a little bit. Carl (Edwards) and Kyle (Busch) were really the best cars, 29 (Jeff Burton) was really good too. We'll take it. We ran fourth, we finished fourth so it is what it is."
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 GodSpeaks.com Toyota Camry, CJM Racing @Finishing Position: 5th
How good was your race car tonight? "We just had a crack in the header right there when we were trying to get our lap back and it just wore through and killed our horsepower. All in all it is still a great day for us. I felt like we had something for those guys but that horsepower loss that we had through the exhaust it really hurt us there towards the end."
What happened when you got into the back of Brad Keselowski? "Yeah, the sun was real bad at that point and I really couldn't see a whole lot. I think the fans right there, they got their money's worth today."
What was your plan at the beginning of the race? "I was just trying to worry him (Brad Keselowski) to death and force him into a mistake and that's what he did. As soon as I got behind him he drove in really, really deep and I said, 'He'll never make the corner.' And he ended up getting into the wall. To me it's a victory for all of the guys who he's taken out over the last 10 weeks. There's a lot of guys -- I was out there and a lot of guys took swipes at him and missed today so to be honest with you I'm surprised he was even able to drive it in."
Are you disappointed with the penalty that NASCAR gave you? "No, not at all. That's the thing, if you do something obvious and blatant which I did you would expect a penalty and I'll be honest with you I thought it was going to be two laps. So one lap I wasn't feeling too bad about. I knew we could come back from it and our car was still in one piece. That's the thing, I wouldn't try to cause harm to anyone and I knew spinning him (Brad Keselowski) at the point that I was that he wasn't going to get hurt and his car wasn't going to get hurt. I just wanted to make his day a little bit tougher."
How did your car handle during the race? "It was a long day. We fought and we fought to try to get it and those long green-flag runs just really hurt us to getting the track position that we needed. Luckily we had a caution at the end that helped with that and we just had too many issues. That mechanical failure with the headers that cracked just killed our horsepower. So when we needed all of the horsepower that we needed at the end it just couldn't keep up with those guys."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 32 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Braun Racing
Finishing Position: 6th
SCOTT SPEED, No. 99 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Finishing Position: 9th
JASON LEFFLER, No. 38 Great Clips Toyota Camry, Braun Racing @Finishing Position: 18th
MICHAEL ANNETT, No. 15 Germain.com Toyota Camry, Germain Racing
Finishing Position: 21st
JUSTIN MARKS, No. 10 Borrell Electric Company Toyota Camry, Braun Racing @Finishing Position: 32nd
CHASE MILLER, No. 47 ConstructionJobs.com Toyota Camry, JTG Daugherty Racing @Finishing Position: 37th
-credit: toyota motorsports