Busch turns weekend into clean sweep with Brickyard 400 win
INDIANAPOLIS >> Kyle Busch won the Brickyard 400 on Sunday to make it clean sweep at Indianapolis.
He led a race-record 149 of the 170 laps and beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth to the finish line by 2.126 seconds. Jimmie Johnson was third, 2.638 seconds behind the defending Sprint Cup champ — thanks to the double overtime forced by three late crashes.
Busch became the first NASCAR driver to sweep the Xfinity Series and Cup poles and races on the same weekend. He also joined Johnson as the only Cup drivers with back-to-back wins on Indy' 2.5-mile oval. Johnson won in 2008 and 2009.
Tony Stewart was 11th in his final Brickyard race after being assessed a late penalty for speeding on pit road.
Five-time race winner Jeff Gordon finished 13th after coming out of retirement to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt is fighting concussion-like symptoms and has not yet been cleared by doctors to drive.
Before teams arrived in Indy on Thursday night, all the talk was about Stewart's farewell and Gordon's comeback.
Even during the drivers' meeting, Gordon and Stewart were front and center. Gordon delivered a moving speech in which he thanked Stewart for the impact he has made on the sport and ended with a standing ovation for the three-time Cup champ and two-time Brickyard winner. Afterward, the two drivers drove around the track together, likely for the final time on their home track.
But Busch's domination overshadowed all of it.
He surrendered the lead for 14 laps after his first pit stop, regained it when race leader Brad Keselowski pitted then gave it up again for only five laps when he made his second pit stop. Everyone else spent the day chasing Busch.
The No. 18 car was so good that Roger Penske's drivers started the day on a different strategy. The goal was to stretch out their runs long enough that they would have to make one fewer pit stop.
It didn't work. Logano finished seventh and Keselowski wound up 17th.
The only real challenge for Busch came with the series of late crashes that delayed his fourth trip to victory lane.
It started with Carl Edwards' car wiggling in the first turn on a restart with seven laps to go. His car slid up the track, hitting Keselowski and catching Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick. Though nobody appeared to be seriously hurt, the wreck brought out a red flag for almost eight minutes.
On the ensuing restart, with three to go, Busch pulled away one more time only to have a collision between Trevor Bayne and Clint Bowyer behind him extend the race again.
It happened yet again when Jamie McMurray slid through the first turn and into the wall on the next restart, but Busch again pulled away to win the race that went 25 miles longer than scheduled.
WHO'S HOT: Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. The team had three cars finish in the top five and heads to Pocono with back-to-back victories. Toyota, meanwhile, had three of its cars place in the top four.
WHO'S NOT: Hendrick Motorsports. Yes, Johnson ended a four-race streak with no top-threes but nobody else finished in the top 10 and none of the four cars was even in contention for the lead.
TOUGH WEEK: Greg Biffle wanted this weekend to be a tribute for his late father, who died Tuesday. Instead, Biffle's day ended early after he crashed on Lap 52.
EMPTY SEATS: It's tough to fill roughly 250,000 seats. But the estimated crowd of about 50,000 left plenty of seats empty at a race that has seen attendance steadily dwindle over the past eight years. The lone exception came in 2015 — in what was supposed to be Gordon's "final ride."
UP NEXT: Pocono Raceway, July 31. Kenseth is the defending race winner.
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