MIAMI: Kyle Busch completed a fairytale comeback story by capturing his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship on Sunday. Busch endured a long recovery from a frightening crash at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway yet took home the title at the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The 30-year-old Busch was top finisher in the Ford EcoBoost 400 among championship beating out contending drivers Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr “Pretty unbelievable. I just can’t believe it with everything that happened this year,” Busch told reporters. “All the turmoil that I went through, that my family went through. This is for everyone that sacrificed so much to get me to this place today.” Harvick, the reigning champion, finished a distant second. Gordon took sixth in what he says will be the final race of his decorated career, and Truex Jr. came in 12th. After a caution flag late in the race, Busch was second with seven laps remaining but manoeuvred past leader Brad Keselowski and held on.
The end result looked like a distant dream early in the year when Busch’s crash left him with a broken right leg and broken left foot. Busch missed 11 races and NASCAR granted him a waiver to make the Chase provided he was able to win a race and crack the top 30 in points before the end of the 26-race regular season at Richmond International Raceway. Busch met both requirements then held steady in the Eliminator Round with three topfive finishes to advance on points to the Championship 4. Fellow driver Dale Earnhardt Jr tweeted congratulations to Busch and his Joe Gibbs Racing team. “Amazing comeback throughout the year,” said Earnhardt.
Meanwhile, Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto and Britain’s Jordan King will test with the Manor Marussia Formula One team in Abu Dhabi after next weekend’s season-ending race. The test today at the Yas Marina grand prix circuit is being run by Pirelli to evaluate the construction of slick tyres for 2016 as well as a new ultrasoft compound to be introduced next season. Both Haryanto and King have competed in the GP2 support series this year. King is the team’s official development driver, but has yet to get behind the wheel of a Formula One car, while Haryanto will be taking part in his third F1 test after ones with the same team in 2010 and 2012. “I’m really looking forward to being back with the team at the Abu Dhabi test,” said Haryanto, who took part in his first test at the age of 17 and won three GP2 races this season. “In many ways it is essentially the same team, although the car is quite different. “I feel much better prepared for this test, and after a very competitive season in GP2, I can’t wait to show how much I have developed to become a more complete driver,” he added. Manor are the only Formula One team yet to confirm any drivers for 2016. Their drivers this season have been Britain’s Will Stevens, American Alexander Rossi and Spaniard Roberto Merhi. — Agencies