Brian Vickers became NASCAR's youngest ever champion when he clinched the Busch Series crown at the final round at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday night.

The 20-year old, who is tipped for bigger things having already signed a Nextel Cup deal for 2004, finished eleventh behind first-time winner Kasey Kahne in the season-ending Ford 300 and took the title by just 14 points over veteran David Green.

Both Vickers and Green found themselves losing laps to the leaders, but Green came close to turning around the 22-point deficit he started the race with, despite losing three laps early in the race. He lost two early on after suffering a puncture, and then conceded a third when he was penalized by the stewards for a pit-lane infringement. He then regained two laps thanks to well-timed yellow flag periods, and then found himself back on the lead lap by virtue of being the leading lapped runner at another safety intervention.

Vickers fell a lap down in the early stages, before also benefiting from the new rule, introduced to prevent drivers racing back to the yellow after an incident. Eleventh place was enough for the Rick Hendrick driver to fend off Green and fellow title challengers Scott Riggs, Ron Hornaday and Bobby Hamilton in the points race. Riggs was taken out in a first-lap accident, while Hornaday finished 15th. Hamilton took third place on Saturday but, as the outsider for the crown, it was not enough to lift him above fourth in the points chase.

Ford driver Kahne broke his Busch Series duck by beating Martin Truex to the chequer by less than six-tenths of a second, but had struggled early on after an unscheduled pit-stop for a suspected puncture dropped him down the order. He eventually took the lead 29 laps from the end, and held on to defeat Truex in a nail-biting finish.

Vickers will aim to cap his triumphant weekend by scoring a top result in tonight's Ford 400 Winston Cup race.



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