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Second title, four tires was the right call for Kyle Busch in 2019 championship run

Not only did Kyle Busch have the best finish to the decade by claiming his second NASCAR Cup Series championship, but he also had the most efficient pit crew throughout a large portion of the 2019 season.

With each second holding race-altering value in a sport with such narrow margins of victory, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team frequently topped the charts with the fastest four-tire stop in 13 of the 36 races — a staggering six more than the next closest team, Chase Elliott’s No. 9 crew.

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Each of the 13 speedy stops nearly always translated into on-track success, resulting in three of Busch’s five wins — Phoenix, Auto Club and Homestead — and only two finishes outside the top 10. The exceptions to this Victory Lane trend came in Busch’s April win at Bristol and his June victory at Pocono, though he did have the top pit stop in the later Pocono race where he finished ninth.

Heading into the NASCAR Playoffs, Busch’s crew was second — only outranked by Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports team — in the time it took for an average four-tire stop at 14.208 seconds.

During the postseason run, his crew outperformed its average and claimed four of the best stop times during the 10-race stretch by outpacing the field at Dover, Kansas and Texas while hurrying to a pair of sub-12 second times in Busch’s championship-winning effort at Homestead. For comparison, only seven sub-12 second times were recorded on four-tire stops during the entire season and Busch’s crew had five of them — bringing the season average to a series-best 13.799 seconds.

Amid the No. 18 team claiming just one Busch Pole Award during the course of the season and averaging a 12.3 starting position, achieving better track position via pit-road performance proved to be instrumental in aiding Busch’s front-running success. Of the Championship 4 contenders, only JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. averaged a worse starting position (13.1) during the year, and despite this, no driver matched Busch’s series-leading 8.9 average finish.

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While Busch’s on-track results — third consecutive season with at least five wins and fourth since 2015 — vaulted him into consideration for the top driver of the decade, exceptional performances from his pit crew throughout the year — and especially during the championship run — deserve to be noted and remembered.

Pit stats provided by SportsMEDIA Technology Corporation.