By AMANDA VINCENT
Kyle Busch continued his march toward the top-30 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points standings after missing the first 11 races of the year with a win Sunday in the Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard, also known as the Brickyard 400, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was Busch’s third-consecutive win and his fourth win in the last five races. With the win, Busch climbed to within 23 points of the top-30.
“We’re a championship contending team; we just have to be championship eligible,” Busch said. “Thank the good Lord for bringing me back when he did. Obviously, thanking him for all the success I’ve had in my life, where I’m at and all my blessings. To get me back as quick as he did, to persevere through that and that deficit. We’re still continuing on; we can’t have bad days.
The win also completed a weekend sweep for Busch, winner of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis, and was the first-ever win at the Brickyard for Toyota, snapping a Chevrolet winning streak of the last 12 races at Indy.
“I appreciate all the fans that I have, all the fans that NASCAR has and Toyota has now captured a win at every single active Cup Series race track,” Busch said. “That’s pretty awesome for us to be able to do that.”
Joey Logano finished second, Kevin Harvick was third, Martin Truex Jr. fourth, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five.
“We had a great day,” Harvick said. “I think everybody did a great job, just in that, I think, second or third-to-last restart where the 22 (Logano) and 18 (Busch) were able to get hooked up and kid of get by us, and I lost control of the race there. Just didn’t pan out there at the end, but everybody did a great job all day.”
Harvick was the race leader on a restart with eight laps to go, but lost the leead to Busch when the race returned to green. The yellow flag waved two more times, the last time resulted in a green-white-checker attempt that extended the race distance from the scheduled 160 laps to 164.
With help from Logano and Truex, Busch was able to stay out front to hold off Logano in the final laps for the win.
Logano led the first 11 laps of the race after taking the top spot from Carl Edwards at the start of the race. Edwards returned to the lead on lap 12. Harvick cycled to the lead on lap 32 after a series of green-flag pit stops.
After the first of nine cautions came out on lap 45, pit strategies varied throughout the remainder of the race, with many teams implementing a road course-type strategy of planning their pit schedules backward from the scheduled end of the race. Throughout those varying strategies, Harvick was up front the most, leading a race-high 75 laps.
One of the nine cautions came out for and incident between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer on lap 50. Gordon’s car sustained significant enough damage to send the four-time champion down several laps and then to the garage, ending his bid for a record-extending sixth Brickyard win in his final Sprint Cup start at Indianapolis.
“I was underneath Kasey Kahne and we were just racing for position,” Gordon said. “I saw Bowyer get sideways. I don’t know what caused it. Me and Kasey were trying to check up to avoid it. I don’t know if he got loose or we just both got loose together. Then, I just lost control and got into the wall.”
Bowyer continued to finish sixth, Matt Kenseth was seventh, Kurt Busch eighth, Kyle Larson ninth, and Brad Keselowski was 10th.
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