A late caution by Kurt Busch hurt brother Kyle’s bid of a NASCAR championship at Homestead, settling for a runner-up finish behind champion Martin Truex, Jr.
Kyle Busch came up less than a second short of capturing his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title in three years Sunday.
Late strategy by the No. 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota meant staying out from lap 197 to 214 as his three championship rivals pitted in that span.
The anticipation of finishing the race under green, backfired after his brother Kurt brought out the 5th and final caution of the race on lap 228. This forced the field to make another pit stop, abolishing crew chief Adam Stevens’ strategy. Kyle restarted third as Martin Truex, Jr. entered and exited the pits in first.
As the race winded down, Busch tried hard passing Truex for the lead and at one point, cutting his lead down, but the high line was the preferred lane and was unable to regain the lead and championship.
After the race, a frustrated Kyle said he was the better car and the final caution hurt his title chances.
“I mean that’s what happens when you lose in this format, but we gave it everything we had. We gave it our all, so congratulations to Martin. They deserved it probably on every other race but today. I thought we were better. Doesn’t matter though,” Kyle said. “They were out front when it mattered the most. Just unfortunate for us that that caution came out. It kind of ruined our race strategy and we weren’t able to get back to where we needed to be and then I had to fight way too hard with some other guys trying to get back up through there, but that’s racing.”
Kyle called out sixth place finisher Joey Logano for also costing him the title because of blocking.
“Battling with the No. 22 there. Just wasting too much time with him, Kyle said. “He held me up. He was there blocking every single chance he got so got a real buddy there.”
Busch led 43 of 267 laps and ends 2017 with five wins, 14 top-5s, 22 top-10s and led 2,023 laps.