Indianapolis Weekend Preview: Winless Kyle Busch goes for third straight victory at Indy

(Getty Images)

Kyle Busch has run well in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, but he’s still chasing his first win.

Busch sits third in the points standings and has five stage wins along with seven top-five finishes in 19 starts this season. Most drivers would take Busch’s season in a minute, but it hasn’t been up to the standards of the 32-year-old Toyota driver, who has won 175 career races across NASCAR’s national series.

On Sunday, Busch will travel to one of his top tracks – Indianapolis Motor Speedway – where he’ll attempt to win for the third consecutive race in the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC). In addition to his two straight wins at Indianapolis, Busch has finished second or better in his last five races there.

“I think the biggest thing about the Brickyard is the prestige, the track’s history and the quality of racing – all the historic finishes it’s had over the years, whether it has been IndyCar or NASCAR,” Busch said. “To me, it’s a special place to go because of its heritage of being Indianapolis.”

Only four active Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers other than Busch have won at Indy: Jimmie Johnson (2006, ’08, ’09, ’12), Ryan Newman (2013), Paul Menard (2011) and Kevin Harvick (2003).

“The prestige of winning (at Indianapolis) is a big deal,” Busch said. “It’s a unique place to race. If you are back in traffic, it’s a little more frustrating because it can be hard to pass there. But, if you have a fast race car, being able to cut the middle and get down the long, fast straightaways is important there.”

Byron prepared to continue breakout at Brickyard

William Byron has proven why Hendrick Motorsports signed him to a development contract last season.

William Byron. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)

The 19-year-old Charlotte native has been the highest finishing NASCAR XFINITY Series regular over the last five races. Included in that stretch are two wins, a runner-up and a third-place showing last week in New Hampshire.

Byron will attempt to continue his breakout run in Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m ET on NBCSN) – a track where he’s never made a start. The No. 9 Chevrolet driver has shot to second in the XFINITY Series standings, 45 points behind Elliott Sadler. Byron leads the XFINITY Series with 11 playoff points.

“I am really looking forward to getting to Indy this weekend,” Byron said. “We’ve had a great stretch of races and I think we can build on that and hopefully compete for a win this weekend.”

Race Weekend Guide

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Race: Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400

Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Date and Time: Sunday, July 23 at 2:30 p.m. ET

Tune-In: NBC, IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400 miles (160 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 50), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 100), Final Stage (Ends on lap 160)

What To Watch For: Denny Hamlin tries to win for the second straight weekend after getting Joe Gibbs Racing its first victory of the season at New Hampshire. … Jimmie Johnson attempts to tie Jeff Gordon’s Indianapolis track wins record with a fifth checkered flag at the 2.5-mile track. … South Bend, Indiana, native Ryan Newman goes for a second win at his hometown track. He took the checkered flag in the 2013 Brickyard 400. … Martin Truex Jr. looks to extend his 38-point lead over Kyle Larson in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Race: Lilly Diabetes 250

Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Date and Time: Saturday, July 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Tune-In: NBCSN, IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 250 miles (100 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 30), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on lap 100)

What To Watch For: Teams will be working with a new track-specific competition package that includes the 2016 spoiler and splitter, new aero ducts and a 7/8-inch restrictor plate. … Kyle Busch attempts to sweep the NASCAR XFINITY and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Indianapolis for the second straight season. … Michael Annett’s 7.5 average finish at Indianapolis is the best among series regulars.

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