When the 2015 Sprint Cup Series began a little more than two months ago, Kurt Busch's future in NASCAR was in serious jeopardy after he had been placed on indefinite suspension for domestic violence allegations.
On Sunday, Busch punched his ticket into this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship when he won the Toyota Owners 400 in dominating fashion at Richmond International Raceway, a race that was delayed one day because of rain. The 36-year-old driver led 291 of 400 laps and beat his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Kevin Harvick, to the finish line by 0.75 seconds for his 26th career win in NASCAR's premier series but his first since March 2014 at Martinsville (35 races ago).
It was the most laps Busch has ever led in a Sprint Cup event. He became the seventh different driver to win in nine races this season.
Busch, the driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, entered this race 22nd in the point standings. He finished fifth at Phoenix, and then one week later, placed third in Fontana, California after starting on the pole there. Busch had finished either 14th or 15th in the next three races before his victory at Richmond.
Kevin Harvick, the defending series champion, has finished either first or second in 10 of the last 12 races.
Jimmie Johnson finished third after starting 36th, while Jamie McMurray took the fourth spot. Joey Logano was fifth. Logano started on the pole and led the first 94 laps before Busch took command.
Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, who won last weekend's race at Bristol, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. completed the top-10.