Weekend Preview: Scorching hot Kyle Busch blazes into Indianapolis looking for a third straight win

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 27 2014:  Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John's Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JULY 27 2014: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch has been racking up victories at the same rapid pace Taylor Swift produces chart-topping hits.

The No. 18 Toyota driver has won the past two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and three of the last four. His three wins in a mere eight starts since returning from a broken right leg and fractured left foot rank second in the series to Jimmie Johnson, who has accumulated four checkered flags in 19 starts.

“It’s been cool,” Busch said about his frequent visits to Victory Lane. “I just can’t say enough about this group of guys behind me, everyone on this team and Adam Stevens (crew chief) and my pit crew.”

Busch will attempt to become the first driver since Johnson in 2007 to take the checkered flag in three consecutive races when he takes control of the wheel in Sunday’s Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network). In 2007, Johnson won four straight races during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup en route to his second career premier series championship.

“I think the biggest thing about the Brickyard is the prestige, the track’s history and 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 to because of its heritage of being Indianapolis.

“Getting our Skittles Camry to Victory Lane there would be special for a lot of reasons.”

Busch has been strong at Indianapolis, finishing runner-up last season and in 2012, but he’s still searching for his first checkered flag at the 2.5-mile track. In 10 Brickyard starts, he’s posted three top fives and eight top 10s. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been able to produce quality finishes even though he’s only started within the top 10 once at the track known for being hard to pass.

“If you are back in traffic, it’s a little more frustrating because it can be hard to pass (at Indianapolis),” Busch said. “But, if you have a fast race car, being able to cut the middle and get down the long, fast straightaways is important there. We’ve run well there the past couple of times. We haven’t qualified well, though, and I think we need to focus on qualifying when we get there and, if we can do that, we will be a heck of a lot better off for the race.”

Dillon drives for Indy repeat

Ty Dillon had a day to remember at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year, holding off elite drivers Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick as his fuel cell neared empty to win his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series race. Once Dillon exited his car, he participated in the historic ritual of “Kissing the Bricks” along with his family members on the finish line of the 2.5-mile track.

On top of that, as the highest finisher among the four eligible XFINITY Dash 4 Cash drivers, Dillon earned an extra $100,000.

Ty Dillon

Ty Dillon

“It was one of the best moments of my racing career, one that I’ll never forget,” Dillon said. “I think the best part of that afternoon was having my family with me to enjoy the moment. They were all so excited and happy for our team. It was a great day all around; we won the race, the Dash 4 Cash bonus and we had a heck of a race car.”

Dillon will drive to defend his 2013 Brickyard title in front of a national broadcast audience in Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC). This time around he will not compete for the Dash 4 Cash bonus. His teammate Brendan Gaughan, Chase Elliott, Regan Smith and XFINITY Series points leader Chris Buescher will vie for the $100,000 bonus after producing the top-four finishers at Dover among eligible drivers.

“Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of my favorite places to race and we as a company have had a lot of success at this track,” said Dillon, who finished third in his Brickyard debut in 2012. “I think the biggest success factor is we bring the best horsepower to the race track with ECR Engines under the hood. Last season when we won the race, the horsepower we had on that final restart put me out front and we were able to take the checkered flag.”

NASCAR Race Weekend Guide

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Race: Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Date and Time: Sunday, July 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Distance: 400 miles (160 laps)
Tune-In: NBC Sports Network, 3 p.m. ET, IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM Ch. 90
What to Watch For: Kyle Busch goes for third straight win. … Track wins record-holder Jeff Gordon tries to defend 2014 victory at Brickyard in likely his final start there. … A track-specific high-drag rule package will be used at Indianapolis this weekend. …  Both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series will use the superspeedway qualifying format. … Active drivers who grew up in Indianapolis have logged eight wins at the Brickyard (Jeff Gordon, 5; Tony Stewart, 2; and Ryan Newman, 1). … Chevrolet’s 12-race win streak at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the longest active string of victories at any one track.

NASCAR XFINITY Series
Race: Lilly Diabetes 250
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Date and Time: Saturday, July 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Distance: 250 miles (100 laps)
Tune-in: NBC, 3 p.m. ET, IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM Ch. 90
What to Watch For: The highest finisher among Chris Buescher, Regan Smith, Brendan Gaughan and Chase Elliott will earn a $100,000 bonus as part of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash program. … Ty Dillon will attempt to win his second straight series victory at the Brickyard. … Daniel Suarez looks to extend his three-point lead over Darrell Wallace Jr. in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year race.

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