Toyota win at Indy monumental for more than just a victory

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INDIANAPOLIS – It doesn’t seem to matter the type of aero package NASCAR has used in recent weeks, Toyota has figured it out.

Kyle Busch won earlier this month at Kentucky Speedway with a low-downforce package that NASCAR debuted there. Busch won Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a high-drag package – giving Toyota its first Sprint Cup win at the historic track.

David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, relished the Brickyard 400 victory but also was pleased with how his group and teams responded to the rule changes in recent weeks.

Busch led 163 of 267 laps in his win at Kentucky (Toyota cars led 177 laps in that race.) At Indy, Toyota teams led 44 of 164 laps with Busch leading 19 circuits.

“We adapted very well to the change,’’ Wilson said. “That’s something, I think, plays to our strong suit. The resources that we were able to apply against it, getting into the wind tunnel right away and just really overworking to make sure that … when we unloaded Friday that we were decent.’’

They were better than that. Denny Hamlin posted the fastest lap in Friday’s practice, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards won the pole Saturday and Busch won the race Sunday for JGR.

At Kentucky, Joe Gibbs Racing placed its four cars place in the top five. At Indy, JGR had its four cars place in the top 13. Clint Bowyer gave Toyota another top 10 when he placed his Michael Waltrip Racing car sixth at Indy. MWR teammate David Ragan led five laps before finishing 21st.

“For me, what’s most important is we all have the same challenges, we’re all given the same rules by NASCAR and it’s the organizations that can adjust and adapt that stand to benefit,’’ Wilson said.

That benefit was Toyota’s first Cup triumph at the Brickyard, ending Chevrolet’s 12-year winning streak, and seventh Cup victory this year after winning only twice last year.

“To be able to win here is incredibly special,’’ Wilson said of Indianapolis. “For me, as an engineer, I’ve always said this is more significant, arguably, than the Daytona 500 because in a restrictor-plate race so much of what you put into the race cars is marginalized by the nature of the plate, even drivers’ abilities is somewhat marginalized. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want a 500 win to add to it.’’

Sunday’s win capped quite a week for Toyota. Christopher Bell won the Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Busch won Saturday’s Xfinity race at Indianapolis and followed it with Sunday’s Cup victory – his third in a row and fourth in the last five series races.