Busch Turns In Dominating Performance At Brickyard 400

Kyle Busch ran away from the field for most of the Brickyard 400. [John Wiedemann Photo]

Kyle Busch ran away from the field for most of the Brickyard 400. [John Wiedemann Photo]

Speedway, Ind. July 24 — For most of the day Kyle Busch was on cruise control as he appeared to be handily on his way to his second consecutive Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but a chaotic set of events in the final ten laps made his day just a bit harder. Still, Busch was up to the task as he survived a red flag period and two green-white-checkered finishes that extended the race ten extra laps, to capture the win ahead of teammate Matt Kenseth and cap off a perfect weekend.

Busch, who led three times for a whopping race record 149 of the event’s 170 laps, was the dominant driver all day as he became the first driver in NASCAR history to sweep a weekend in winning the pole positions and races of every NASCAR event contested at the speedway.

“I hoped it (the car) would be that good and it was just so fast, “ Busch said from victory lane, “To get out front and stay out front where not even our own teammates could get us, this car was on rails.”

“It’s fun to come out here at Indy and have such a dominant piece,” Busch continued, “I just didn’t want to screw it up.”

A caution flag for debris in turn three with nine laps to go set the crazy race closing events in motion as drivers outside the top five pitted for fresh tires and soon after the race resumed with the field tightly bunched a four car incident off turn two involving fourth place running Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney brought out the red flag as the track was cleared. After a nearly seven and a half minute delay, the race restarted with three laps to go and quickly went back under the yellow flag as Trevor Bayne and Clint Bowyer crashed down the backstretch. After a fuel leak from a safety vehicle extended the caution period, the first overtime attempt set off with Busch leading over Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., and Kevin Harvick. The field barely made it through turn one before Jamie McMurray spun while trying to clear Tony Stewart and collected Ryan Newman and Brian Scott which set up a second overtime restart as the leaders had not reached the designated line on the track which would have made the race complete.

On the second overtime restart, Busch once again was able to pull ahead while Kenseth used the inside line to sweep past Logano who was unable to keep alongside the leader through the first turn. Jimmie Johnson led the contingent of drivers who pitted for fresh tires and charged forward into third as Logano faded back. Busch handily held on for a 2.126 second margin of victory over Kenseth while Johnson finished third ahead of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

“We never got in front of him (Kyle Busch) all day,” Kenseth stated after his third runner-up finish in the event, “I don’t think anybody else got the lead to see if anybody else had anything. He was out there in the lead all day, had plenty of speed, and deserved to win. He had the fast car all weekend and you knew he was the guy.”

“The last two or three starts worked really good for us and fortunately we missed the pileup that took place in front of us and made a couple of real good moves on those last two laps,” Johnson said after benefiting from the late pit call for tires, “We went from like fifth to third so we’ll take it.”

“We made a mistake on pit lane but I’m proud of the effort to come back and get a top five,” said Hamlin after recovering from a speeding penalty on pit road to finish fourth, “Jimmie (Johnson) packed that air under me and those guys were all racing hard. We had aspirations to come here and win but we came back and got a top five.”

“I was happy with anywhere in the top ten and then to restart on the outside there in eighth and then to get fifth, that was way better than I thought we’d end up,” Larson said after his fifth place finish, “I thought we would fall back to tenth or eleventh so it’s a happy day and a good points day for us.”

Kevin Harvick crossed the finish line in sixth place while Joey Logano fell back to seventh after challenging for the lead on the final restart.

“The restart was just not good,” Logano explained, “I had a decent restart the first time and the second one I probably had just as good of a restart but the 20 (Kenseth) got under me and I was kind of stuck from that point and fell into the clutches of the new tires behind me.”

Martin Truex Jr. raced among the front runners all day and finished eighth while Austin Dillon and Paul Menard rounded out the top ten finishers.

Indiana native and fan favorite Tony Stewart challenged for the lead early before drawing a pit road speeding penalty and finished eleventh in his final Brickyard 400 while Jeff Gordon, substituting for the injured Dale Earnhardt jr., finished thirteenth in his first race since stepping out from behind the wheel last season.

“It’s funny, I’m filling in for Dale Jr., but I needed a fill-in on restarts,” Gordon surmised, “Restarts have never really been my thing but when you’ve been out of it for eight months I’ve lost a step there. I was fighting hard and you know it was hot out there but I was able to manage through that because I had a great car and a great team.”

“I got a penalty on the last stop and that was a green flag stop and that got us a lap down but we fought and got our lap back and got something respectable, “ Stewart said after competing in his final Brickyard 400, “When we got the checkered flag I didn’t want to come in just yet. This was the most relaxing Brickyard I have ever had and we had a lot of fun this weekend from start to finish.”

Both Stewart and Gordon took an extra lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the checkered flag in tandem formation to salute the fans.

The Crown Royal present the Combat Wounded 400 at the Brickyard featured four lead changes among three drivers, the fewest leaders in the event’s history and was completed in three hours seventeen minutes at an average speed of 128.940 mph.

Share Button