Anyone who followed Kyle Busch’s 11-year Cup Series career knew it was just a matter of time before he was able to bring home a NASCAR Cup Series championship.
However, how he captured his first title in NASCAR’s top series could have never been predicted by anyone. In fact, Busch’s 2015 season reads like something out of a Hollywood script.
He suffered a broken right leg and a broken left foot in a crash during a February NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Busch initially figured he would work on his rehab and get himself ready for the 2016 season.
But as the weeks went by and he went from laying in a makeshift hospital bed setup in his living room, to standing, and then to walking, Busch knew that he may have a shot of racing in 2015 as the timeline for his recovery kept moving earlier and earlier.
The initial goal was simply to be standing by his wife Samantha’s side for the birth of their son, due in mid-May. But as it turned out, Busch’s miraculous recovery saw both his return to racing and the birth of his son happening just two days apart. Busch returned for the May 16 Sprint All-Star race, a non-points race where he finished a solid sixth in his season debut. Just two days later on May 18, Busch and wife Samantha welcomed their son Brexton into the world.
On the track, Busch was granted a waiver by NASCAR in order to be eligible for the Chase for the Cup. The conditions of the waiver were Busch had to win a race, but also make it into the top-30 in driver points. In all, Busch missed 11 points events and had a tall hill to climb to meet both of those requirements prior to the September Chase cutoff. That meant that Busch and the No. 18 team had just 15 races to meet two requirements in order to make this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoffs. To make it even more difficult, an accident at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in mid-June created a deep hole in his quest to crack the top-30 as he sat 173 points behind the 30th-place driver.
Not about to give up, Busch, and then rookie crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire team rolled up their sleeves and went to work. Using the off weekend following Michigan as a point to refocus, the team turned around its season in late June by winning at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The win started a remarkable streak of four wins in five weeks, including three in a row at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and the prestigious Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With the hot streak, Busch and company suddenly found themselves into the top-30, clinching a Chase berth following the Labor Day weekend race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Once in the Chase, Busch and Stevens navigated the difficult 10-race, 16-driver playoffs with hard work and smart racing. They advanced through the first three rounds and into the four driver winner-takes-all season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But not only did the team make it to the Championship Four, but fast pit work by the No. 18 team on the final stop vaulted him to the lead with under 10 laps to go as Busch brought home his first Sprint Cup title by winning the series-finale at Homestead. The win and championship capped off a season to remember for Busch, his entire JGR team, and his family.
In addition to the full Sprint Cup schedule in 2016, Busch plans to run a limited number of Xfinity Series races for JGR and continue his ownership of Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) with three fulltime teams in 2016.
In addition to his aggressive nature behind the wheel of a racecar, Busch has a strong charitable drive. He formed the Kyle Busch Foundation (KBF). His foundation is committed to empowering children, families and communities to overcome hardship by providing essential tools (financial, material and experiential) to allow them to live their best lives possible.
In addition to children’s homes his foundation supports, Busch and his wife, Samantha, have a few big initiatives they continue to support. The first is North Carolina-based Pretty in Pink Foundation, as money raised at a charity dinner held each October in Charlotte, N.C. called ‘Project Pink’, The KBF initiative has now raised over $200,000 to cover 76 breast cancer patients on all of their treatments. Along with Project Pink, the couple started the “Kyle and Samantha Busch Bundle of Joy Fund” benefiting in-need families struggling with infertility. KBF donates to costs associated with infertility treatment through the REACH Clinic of Charlotte, N.C.
Busch, wife Samantha, and son Brexton reside in Denver, North Carolina.