Kyle Busch makes history at Indianapolis
Kyle Busch celebrates winning the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 24, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
Kyle Busch continued his weekend dominance of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, leading all but 21 laps of the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (Brickyard 400) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway en route to his fourth win of the season.
“This Skittles Camry was awesome,” Busch said. “I can’t thank everyone from Skittles enough and everyone from M&Ms and their 75th anniversary year this season with us. “Of course, Interstate Batteries. This Toyota was awesome today; it was just so fast and able to get out front and stay out front. Not even some of my teammates could challenge. This was hooked up and on rails.”
The win was Busch’s second-straight victory of the Brickyard 400, making him only the second driver to accomplish the feat of winning two-straight Sprint Cup races at Indy. Also turning in a dominating performance that led to a win on Saturday in the Xfinity Series race, also at IMS, Busch swept the Indy NASCAR weekend for the second straight year. This year’s sweep was part of a history-making weekend for Busch as he became the first driver in NASCAR history to claim the pole and win in both Xfinity and Sprint Cup competition in a single weekend.
“It’s so cool because it hasn’t been done before,” Busch said. “I’ve tried and been successful at being able to do a lot of things that others haven’t been able to do before. I guess I give myself more chances than others, because I run more of those races. It helps you, and when it helps you win on Sunday, that’s what makes everything so worthwhile on those Sunday races. I can’t say enough about everyone on that NOS Energy Drink Camry; the guys on Saturday do a good job, too, helping prepare me and being able to do this stuff on Sunday.”
Matt Kenseth finished second, giving Joe Gibbs Racing a one-two sweep. Their teammate, Denny Hamlin, also finished in the top-five, finishing fourth. Jimmie Johnson was third, and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five.
Busch was never passed for position on the race track. Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano were the only other two drivers to lead laps. Keselowski led 15 laps and Logano six. The Penske teammates ran the early stages of the race under a strategy of stretching their runs between pit stops to shave on stop of their tallies. It was a strategy they eventually aborted by the halfway point of the race.
When Busch pitted for the first time on lap 27, Keselowski assumed the lead and stayed out until lap 42 before finally heading for pit road. His teammate followed. When Keselowski and Logano pitted, Busch reassumed the lead.
Logano got up front by staying out during the second caution of the race that came on lap 53. Keselowski, meanwhile, got off pit road first to restart second. When the race returned to green, Keselowski lost several positions. Logano wound up giving up the lead to Busch on lap 62. Busch then led the remainder of the race.
As Busch ran up front, through most of the race, JGR teammates Kenseth and Carl Edwards were near the front with him. Edwards, though, was one of six drivers involved in a late-race, multi-car wreck that also involved Keselowski.
“I felt like I just got tight down there,” Edwards said. “I had a little trouble, there, on the starts and I got down there. We were fighting really hard for the bottom, and it felt like I got tight with whoever was on the outside of me. If, indeed, that is what happened, I apologize. That’s pretty frustrating.”
The wreck that collected Edwards and Keselowski brought out the sixth caution of the race. The yellow flag waved two additional times, with each of those two cautions adding laps to the race that originally was scheduled for a 160-lap distance but wound up going 170 laps.
Logano was second to Busch on the final restart, but when the race returned to green, he dropped back to seventh. Other top-10 finishers included Kevin Harvick in sixth, Martin Truex Jr. in eighth, Austin Dillon ninth, and Paul Menard 10th.
Tony Stewart just missed out on a top-10 finish in what is expected to be his final Brickyard 400, finishing 11th after going a lap down when a caution came right after a green-flag pit stop and he was nabbed speeding on pit road.
“I really did the team wrong, here,” Stewart said. “I got a penalty on the last stop, and that is a green-flag stop that turned into a yellow and got us a lap down. But we fought and got our lap back, and I don’t know where did we end up, 11th? So, fought back and got something respectable out of this. Didn’t leave anything out there.”
In a substitute role for Dale Earnhardt Jr., previously retired Jeff Gordon finished 13th in Earnhardt’s No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
“It didn’t go very well, and it was a fight,” Gordon said. “Wow, the challenges to be out there against the best, especially on those restarts. I got my butt kicked on those restarts. It was embarrassing. While I will fill-in for Dale Jr., and I hope he’s doing good, I needed a fill-in on restarts. It was pretty bad. Other than that, I thought it went really well.”