Kyle Busch has accomplished a great deal in his career. Sunday however the reigning champion was the king of restarts and completed a weekend sweep for the first time in NASCAR history winning the Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 from the pole. The win came a day after winning the Xfinity race from pole on Saturday.
“This Toyota was awesome today,” Busch said. “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.”
“It’s fun to come out here and have such a dominant piece at Indy. They don’t come along often so I was just hoping I didn’t screw it up.”
Busch set a record for most NASCAR laps led at Indy leading 149 of the 170 laps and surviving two green-white-checkered flag finishes for his 38th career win and his second consecutive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I’ve tried and been successful at being able to do a lot of things that others haven’t been able to do before,” Busch said. “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 Saturday races.”
There were eight cautions on the day that required Busch to retake the lead on a restart along with a red flag period. No one had anything for Busch however and he was able to hold off his teammate Matt Kenseth on the final restart 10 laps past the scheduled distance to score the 38th Sprint Cup win of his career and his fourth of the year.
“We never got in front of him all day and the clean air is always really big here,” Kenseth said. “ We did not have a good Friday, did not have a good Saturday and pretty respectable Sunday, so I have to thank all my teammates for helping us out. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) made some great changes. We were pretty competitive all day, just never got quite to the lead to see what we had.”
The only other drivers to lead laps on the day were the Penske Racing cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano who tried a different pit strategy then the rest of the field. The duo stayed out during the first round of green flag pit stops with Keselowski taking the lead. The strategy didn’t work out however.
Keselowski who led for 15 laps, pitted for two tires during the race’s second caution as the leaders pitted and came out first. Logano stayed out and grabbed the lead but the all Penske front row didn’t last as Busch grabbed second and Keselowski fell back to seventh. Busch stayed close to Logano and retook the lead on lap 62.
From there it was Kyle Busch’s race to win. There would be a total of five more restarts all won by Busch and he never again surrendered the lead.
The other big story of the race was drivers Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. Stewart in his final Cup race at his home track started third but never led a lap. He received a speeding penalty and lost a lap, and suffered damage in a crash late in the race. He made up his lap and recovered to finish 11th.
“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.”
Gordon came out of retirement to sub for the ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon started 21st, got as high as 11th and finished the day in 13th. As Busch was doing a celebratory burnout on the front stretch after the race, Stewart and Gordon took a final slow lap together then embraced on pit road after climbing from their car.
“Tony and I have gone through a lot over the years,” Gordon said. “But, he and I have become really good friends. I was with him when he got hurt this year. And to see what he’s done and how tough he is as a competitor; I’ve always know what a great guy and what a great race car driver he is, and now I know more about who Tony Stewart really is. I’m just so proud that I was able to be here and race with him in his final race.”
Behind Kenseth in second, Jimmie Johnson, who was also penalized for speeding and lost a lap, recovered to finish third.
“We’ve been working really hard to get our cars where they need to be,” Johnson said. “We’re still not happy, but we’re getting closer. I’m very proud of the effort today. Unfortunately a mistake on my part in that second segment, trying to get in the pits I got dinged for speeding and then rallied from like 24th back.”
Denny Hamlin was also penalized for speeding and he too made up a lap and recovered to come home fourth. Kyle Larson finished an Indianapolis career best fifth
Kevin Harvick was sixth, Logano seventh, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and 2011 Indy winner Paul Menard. The full results can be found here.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series heads back to Pocono Raceway for the Pennsylvania 400 next week. Live coverage will be on the NBC Sports Network starting at 1:00 p.m. ET.