Kyle Busch put in another strong performance behind the wheel of his Joe Gibbs Racing-prepared Toyota in the season-ending Ford 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series outing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Having started eleventh on the grid, Busch led twice for five laps in his No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota and went on to dog eventual winner Carl Edwards before ultimately settling for the runner-up spot, barely six tenths of a second adrift at the end of 200 laps of action.
“We had a great race car there and the guys did an awesome job,” enthused the 23-year-old, who wraps up his 2008 Nationwide Series campaign with a record-tying ten victories, four poles, 18 top-fives, 20 top-tens and 1,867 laps led. “We unloaded behind and we fought from behind all weekend.
“The 60 (Edwards) was real fast and real strong, and we just came up a little short. There's a piece of damage on the front end of the car and I don't know if that was the culprit or not, but I got so tight at the end that I couldn't even steer through the corners.”
Nonetheless, the result capped an impressive year for sponsor Z-Line Designs, which visited victory lane seven times with three different drivers – Busch at Chicagoland Speedway, O'Reilly Raceway Park, Auto Club Speedway and Dover (Del.) International Speedway; Denny Hamlin at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and Kansas Speedway; and Tony Stewart at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana.
Moreover, thanks to Busch's second place effort, the No. 18 car finished a respectable 22nd in the final Nationwide Series owner standings, tallying 3,347 points despite running only a partial schedule in 2008.
Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate, Joey Logano, started from the pole in the No. 20 Toyota and led the first 21 laps of the Ford 300 before finishing tenth in only his 19th career Nationwide Series race. Logano's 14th top-ten finish since making his debut at Dover in late May allowed the No. 20 team to win the Nationwide Series owner championship by twelve points over the No. 2 entry of Richard Childress Racing.
It was Joe Gibbs Racing's first Nationwide Series championship but fifth overall NASCAR crown, as the organisation has won three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles (2000 with Bobby Labonte, 2002 and 2005 with Stewart) and one NASCAR Camping World Series East crown (2007 with Logano).
The No. 20 car earned nine victories in 2008 – five with Stewart, two with Hamlin and one apiece with Logano and Busch.
“They had a great car all year long,” said Busch of the No. 20 team. “For it to come down to the final race like that, it was pretty cool to see, and for Joey to run the amount of races that he ran in the car and to win the races that he won, he did his part of the deal.
“Everybody that was in that car – myself, Joey, Denny and Tony – we all won, and we're all a part of the championship, but the big pat on the back and the big support needs to go back to the guys at the shop. So many guys stepped up to make our cars fast and run up front.”