No. 51 Team captures sixth win and erases 23-point deficit en route to KBM's second Truck Series Owner's Championship in four years
The odds that Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) No. 51 ToyotaCare Racing team would win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owner's Championship weren't quite as bad as the one-in-a-million chance that Mary Swanson gave Lloyd Christmas in the classic comedy Dumb and Dumber, but in the series finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway the stars did need to align for the team to bring home the hardware. And as long as there is at least a chance, with Rowdy Busch behind the wheel a team can never be counted out.
The No. 51 ToyotaCare team and Crafton's ThorSport Racing's No. 88 team both ended the season with 804 championship points, but with five victories by Busch and one from Erik Jones, Kyle Busch Motorsports' six victories were tops in the series. The owner's championship was the second for KBM in its four-year existence - winning the title in 2010 in their inaugural campaign.
"We worked hard all season long and everyone on this Kyle Busch Motorsports team deserves all the credit," said owner-driver Busch. "They work so hard every week, all year long -- we've had a lot of the same employees, but we've had a lot of new employees. The 51 team with Erik Jones winning last week -- he gave us the saving grace to come into this week and have a chance and I can't say enough about him. Chad Hackenbracht for being on board with us this year and having the results that he did and of course there's -- (Scott) Bloomquist, he was there too at the dirt race and Denny Hamlin at Martinsville. It's just a testament to this team and what they're made of and everyone from Toyota Care, Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Monster Energy and Flexco -- everyone makes this possible for us."
The Las Vegas native started the 134-lap race from the 12th position, but by lap 20 had maneuvered his Tundra into the top five. Busch was running third when the second caution of the race occurred for a one-truck spin on lap 42. Reporting that his Toyota was "free in and tight in the center," crew chief Rudy Fugle summoned his driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and multiple chassis adjustments.
The No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra took the lap-45 restart from the fourth position, where it remained when the field was slowed again for debris on lap 64. When pit road opened, Busch visited pit road for the second time of the race, getting four fresh tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment. Thanks to quick work by the over-the-wall crew, "Rowdy" retuned to the track with the lead for the ensuing restart.
Busch would exchange the lead several times with Ryan Blaney over the next 30 laps, until Blaney pancaked the wall while leading on lap 94. The team's owner-driver once again visited pit road, getting four tires, a full tank of fuel and another round of chassis adjustments. The No. 51 Tundra restarted from the second spot when the field went back green on lap 99.
One lap later, Rowdy returned to the lead and remained out front until lap 113 when he was passed by Austin Dillon. Busch regained the lead momentarily on lap 115 and then for good on lap 117. The talented wheelman would hold off youngsters Blaney and Jeb Burton and survive three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish to collect his series-leading fifth win of 2013.
While the No. 51 team collected the win, the No. 88 of Matt Crafton was involved in a late-race accident and was relegated to a 21st-place finish. The end result left the two teams tied with 804 points on the season and the owner's championship was decided by who had the most wins per the NASCAR rule book.
The win was Busch's 35th career victory in NASCAR's third division and his 126th win across NASCAR's top three divisions. Blaney finished 0.081 seconds behind him in the runner-up spot. Burton finished third, with Brendan Gaughan and Ron Hornaday rounding out the top-five finishers.
Darrell Wallace Jr. finished 15th and Joey Coulter finished 27th after being involved in a late-race accident.
There were eight caution periods for 37 laps. Thirteen different drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead eight times, including Busch who led five times for 52 laps. Eight drivers failed to finish the 134-lap event.
The No. 51 ends the season with six wins, one pole, 11 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes.
The 2014 Truck Series season kicks off with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 on Feb. 21 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Live Television coverage on Fox Sports 1 beings at 7:30 p.m. ET with the NCWTS Setup Show.