The 400-mile NASCAR summer classic at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway turned out to be a record 425-miler, but the winner was never really in doubt.
Kyle Busch survived four late restarts in the last 18 laps in his No. 18 Skittles Toyota to triumph for the second consecutive year at Indianapolis, winning the Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard by 2.126 seconds over Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth. He led a record 149 of 170 laps after starting from the pole.
Busch is the second driver to win back-to-back NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis, joining Jimmie Johnson (2008-09). Five men won back-to-back Indianapolis 500s, most recently Helio Castroneves in 2001-02.
Busch began the weekend with a win from the pole in the XFINITY Series Lilly Diabetes 250, making him the first driver in NASCAR history to sweep the poles and races in both national series in one weekend.
“A great weekend for us, and such a special weekend, to be able to win a Brickyard 400, and to have that opportunity come our way last year and to be able to back it up this weekend was special in its own right,” said Busch, who is second in the Sprint Cup Series points standings. “To sweep the weekend, that’s something that doesn’t come along very often. I can’t say enough about the whole group of guys and the people that are around us.”
Car owner Joe Gibbs was able to add to his trophy case with his fifth Brickyard win since 2000. After the 1-2 Toyota finish followed Jimmie Johnson, who came from a lap down to rally for third in the No. 48 Lowe’s Red Vest Chevrolet. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin finished fourth in the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota and Kyle Larson took fifth in the No. 42 Energizer Chevrolet.
Tony Stewart finished 11th in his final Brickyard start in the No. 14 Mobil 1/Chevy Summer Sell Down Chevrolet, while Jeff Gordon finished 13th in his relief effort for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet. Once the race was completed, the Hoosiers took one more pace lap around the track, perhaps for the last time together.
“I knew when we got the checkered, I just didn’t want to come in quite yet,” said Stewart, a two-time Brickyard 400 winner. “I wanted to run one more lap, and Jeff was around us before that last green run, and I told my spotter to go get his spotter and say ‘after this thing’s over we need to go a lap around here together, because most likely is the last time we’ll both get to do that.’ I couldn’t think of a better guy to share that with than Jeff.”
Once the lap was complete, the drivers pulled onto pit road together and embraced upon getting out of their cars.
“Well, Tony and I have gone through a lot over the years. But he and I have become really good friends.” Gordon said. “And to see what he’s done and how tough he is as a competitor; I’ve always known what a great guy and what a great race car driver he is, and now I know more about who Tony Stewart really is.”
SOURCE: Indianapolis Motor Speedway ♦ PHOTOS: Brian Groce
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