Kyle Busch needed four extra laps, but held off Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick in a green-white-checker finish Sunday to capture his first Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I’m trying to soak it in,” Busch told NBCSN afterward. “Oh my gosh, I just can’t believe this run right now. This car was awesome. I just knew if I could get us out front, I could drive away.”
Busch has won the past three Sprint Cup races and four of the last five, as he closes in on 30th-place in the standings, which would make him Chase eligible.
Having gained 150 points in the last five races, Busch is 23 points out of 30th place after Sunday’s win.
NBC analyst and former Sprint Cup driver Jeff Burton said late in Sunday’s telecast that he believed the injury Busch suffered at the beginning of the season, which forced him to miss the first 11 races, may have given him some perspective.
“It must have, I don’t know,” Busch said when asked about Burton’s observation. “Maybe I found my happy place. … Nothing better than being in victory lane for one of the biggest wins of my career here at Indy, and sweeping the weekend, as well.”
The Las Vegas native also swept the weekend at the legendary track, having won Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 Xfinity Series race.
Logano finished second, followed by Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin.
How Kyle Busch won: The victory came down to the restart on Lap 162. Busch beat Joey Logano into Turn 1 and then held off any bid by Logano to get past in the final two laps. Harvick got a bad restart, or he may have been more of a significant factor in the outcome.
Who else had a good race: Logano had hoped to give team owner Roger Penske his first-ever Brickyard 400 win. “It’s just so frustrating, just so close to winning here at the Brickyard,” Logano said. “Second hurts. … Even though she finished 27th, Danica Patrick had a good day for the most part, including running as high as fifth and in the top 15 for much of the race before falling back on the final two restarts on Lap 152 and 162. … After struggling in the last four races, Martin Truex Jr. got back on track with a strong fourth-place finish.
Who had a bad race: Despite all the sentiment and emotion of this being his last Brickyard 400, Jeff Gordon would not win a record sixth race at Indy. On Lap 50,Gordon couldn’t avoid Clint Bowyer and suffered significant damage to his car. Gordon finished 42nd. … Aric Almirola spun out on Lap 107 and hit the inside retaining wall after what appeared to be a tire that went down. Almirola’s car suffered moderate damage and finished 38th. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. tried to pass teammate Kasey Kahne on Lap 147, got into the infield grass on Turn 1, lost control and backed himself into the wall. Earnhardt finished 22nd.
Notable: This was only the second green-white-checker finish in Brickyard 400 history, the other being in 2004. … Pole-sitter Carl Edwards made contact with Joey Logano with 14 laps to go, sending him from second place back to 10th and eventually 21st place with 10 laps remaining. Edwards rallied to finish 13th. … Kevin Harvick was the leader at the halfway point… Chase Elliott finished 18th in his first career Brickyard 400. Elliott will replace Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet next season.
Quote of the Day: “We’re a championship contending team, we just have to be championship-eligible. … To persevere through all that and make up that deficit, we’re still continuing on. We still can’t have bad days.” – Race winner Kyle Busch on whether his team can contend for the championship.
Next up: Windows 10 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on Sunday, August 2. Start time is 1:30 pm ET.