Busch Wins Lilly Diabetes 250

Ryan Blaney (22) is chased by Kyle Busch (54). [Russ Lake Photo]

Ryan Blaney (22) is chased by Kyle Busch (54) late in the Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis.  [Russ Lake Photo]


Kyle Busch looked beat from the heat and almost got beat in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Almost.

Fighting a tight car and a rejuvenated Ryan Blaney during the final segment, Busch took advantage of a Blaney mistake on the final lap to win the Lilly Diabetes 250 by just 0.421 seconds.

Busch’s Monster Energy Joe Gibbs Toyota led twice from the pole in the early going as he battled Paul Menard, Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez.

He regained the point on lap 38 and looked like a likely winner until a late restart on lap 76 gave Blaney, whose Discount Tire Penske Mustang came from 11th starting spot, a chance to take over in turn one; a chance he more than jumped on.

Blaney stretched his late lead to 12 car-lengths as Busch fought turbulent air while riding behind the youngster.

“Every year here I’ve lost the lead on a late restart. I guess I’ve gotta get better at that,” admitted the winner who “drafted on him (Blaney) to keep up. The timing on that was critical. I managed to get back to him in traffic.”

Busch, the all-time series’ race winner with 72, looked and sounded frustrated as it appeared like he wouldn’t get past the third-generation driver.

Busch, saving his tires in the extreme heat, made a last-lap run to Blaney’s bumper and forced a mistake as they entered turn two.

“It was my fault, obviously,” admitted a dejected Blaney. “I got tight and I got too deep and didn’t get off the long corner. There was no pressure for 24 laps and the last one I just made a mistake. It’s pretty bad to throw one away here at the Brickyard.”

But for the sometimes easily frustrated Busch, it was a gift that he took full advantage of.

“He (Blaney) lost momentum coming off of two and I was able to capitalize. We should have won going away. It certainly wasn’t the end of the race I’d like to have, but them Kyle Busch cautions will make that” admitted Busch, who led 53 laps of the 100 lap race. “I was trying to back off and get clean air. I got stuck about eight or 10 car lengths back and almost didn’t get back. Fortunately, a couple of cars messed up his momentum and didn’t mess up mine as much and I was able to get through.”

Busch almost had an early-race gaffe as well when a miscommunication on the team’s first pit opportunity forced the Penske crew to change strategy; a move that delayed the stop and opened the window to pit off schedule.

“No one called him in on that first stop during the caution,” noted crew chief Chris Gayle. “NASCAR waited a few laps to open the pits and that was all we needed to change strategy and be able to pit later and still make it on two stops.”

Daniel Suarez, whose ARRIS Toyota was strong in the early laps, finished third behind the dominant duo. He was the highest finishing rookie.

Paul Menard’s Chevrolet and Elliott Sadler’s Ford rounded-out the top five.

Chris Buescher leads the series’ point standings by 25 points over Chase Elliott who finished 10th.

Busch, of course was tired but joyous in victory lane, glad he was there instead of in the garage.

Blaney was hard on himself over an error that lost his team a sure win. But a tweet from fellow competitor Dale Earnhardt Jr. had to be most welcome.

Junior told Blaney that he’d accomplish his goals in his career and that this (error) will become a distant memory.

There seems to have actually been a couple of winners here today. Class act.


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