Kyle Busch heads into playoffs as regular-season champ for second-straight year

Despite a 37th-place finish resulting from a blown engine just past the halfway point of the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch was named Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular-season champion for the second-consecutive year. Busch actually clinched the honor the previous weekend at the Bojangles’ Souther 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

"I’m glad we were able to clinch the regular-season championship tonight, though,” Busch said after finishing third in the Darlington race on Sept. 1. "Those extra playoff points can be a huge benefit in the early rounds of the playoffs and provide a bit of a buffer should something go wrong.”

The regular-season title includes a 15-point bonus.

"We have, certainly, worked hard throughout the regular season to get this playoff-point advantage that we have right now,” Busch said. "It would be nice to not have to rely on those points, but to be able to win some races, here, and close out the season strong and get to Homestead and race for a championship.”

The 2019 playoffs kick off Sunday at Busch's home track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Busch scored four wins in the 26-race regular season, including two-straight at ISM [formerly Phoenix International] Raceway and Auto Club Speedway. He won two more at Bristol Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway. All four of those wins came in the first 14 races of the season. Busch also put together a string of 11-straight top-10 finishes to start the 2019 season. In his 10 races since his latest win, Busch has notched two runner-up finishes.

Busch led the points standings through a significant portion of the regular-season. He took his latest points lead by surpassing Joey Logano with an 11th-place finish at Watkins Glen International, the 22nd race of the season, last month.