2019 NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Truck Series champions Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick and Matt Crafton made up a first-of-its-kind group.
This past Friday night, ThorSport Racing’s Matt Crafton won the 2019 NASCAR Truck Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway to cap off a season defined by consistency despite the fact that he did not win a single race all year.
Then on Saturday evening, Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick won the 2019 Xfinity Series championship at the track to cap off his first year with the team, a year that included a career-high six victories, a career-high 24 top five finishes, a career-high 27 top 10 finishes, a career-high five pole positions, a career-high 568 laps led and a career-best average finish of 6.3.
Finally, on Sunday evening at the same venue, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch won the 2019 Cup Series championship despite the fact that he entered the season finale having not won a race in five and a half months.
This group of three champions is the first of its kind in NASCAR history.
Crafton’s Truck Series championship was his third, as he also won the titles in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He secured the title by finishing the 134-lap Ford EcoBoost 200 around the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Homestead-Miami Speedway oval in Homestead, Florida in second place behind Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Austin Hill.
Reddick’s Xfinity Series championship was his second, as he also won last year’s title, becoming the first repeat champion since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won titles in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He also became the first driver to win championships in the series driving for multiple teams, and he pulled this off in his first and likely only two seasons as a full-time driver, as he is set to drive for the Richard Childress Racing Cup Series team next year.
Busch’s Cup Series championship was also his second, as he won his first in the 2015 season. He became the first driver to win two championships since the Championship 4 era began in the 2014 season, and he became the first driver to be crowned champion for a second time since seven-time Jimmie Johnson won his second title in the 2007 season.
What do these three drivers have in common?
They all entered the weekend as former champions, and they all added to their championship totals. Never before had this happened, as at least one of these three series has had a first-time champion ever year.
The easiest way to figure this out is by looking at the Truck Series, which only began in the 1995 season. Only eight seasons have featured a driver winning a championship other than his first, as Ron Hornaday Jr. is a four-time champion, Crafton and Jack Sprague are three-time champions and Todd Bodine is a two-time champion.
After winning his first title in 1996, Hornaday won the championships in the 1998, 2007 and 2009 seasons. After winning his first title in the 1997 season, Sprague won the championships in the 1999 and 2001 seasons. Crafton, as mentioned above, won the 2013 and 2014 titles prior to winning his third title this year. Finally, Bodine won his first title in the 2006 season before winning again in 2010.
In 1998, Jeff Gordon did win his third Cup Series championship, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first Xfinity Series championship. The following year, Earnhardt did win his second Xfinity Series championship, but Dale Jarrett won his first Cup Series championship.
In 2001, Gordon did win his fourth Cup Series championship, but Kevin Harvick won his first Xfinity Series championship. In 2007, Jimmie Johnson did win his second Cup Series championship, but Carl Edwards won his first Xfinity Series championship. Johnson went on to win his fourth Cup Series championship in 2009, but Kyle Busch won his first Xfinity Series championship.
Then in 2010, Johnson won his fifth Cup Series championship. But the Xfinity Series saw another first-time champion with Brad Keselowski. The 2014 season is actually the only one of these seven seasons to not feature two multi-time champions, as Chase Elliott won his first Xfinity Series championship while Harvick won his first Cup Series title.
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Finally in 2019, thanks to the success of Matt Crafton, Tyler Reddick and Kyle Busch, the champions of all three of NASCAR‘s national series are multi-time champions for the first time ever.