Kyle Busch Makes History In Final Brickyard Run For Tony Stewart And Jeff Gordon

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Kyle Busch celebrates after winning the Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday (Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kyle Busch celebrates after winning the Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday (Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Mission accomplished, a record set, and a torch passed to the next generation.

Kyle Busch set a Brickyard record for laps led and became the first driver to sweep both a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series race from the pole in the same weekend, but the real symbolism of Sunday’s Crown Royal 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway didn’t come until the event was over.

As Busch spun his No. 18 Toyota in a celebratory burnout and took his customary bows near the yard of bricks, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon slowly circled the track, driving side by side, waving to fans acknowledging their career accomplishments after what is expected to be their respective last appearances at the Brickyard.

In heat that reached 130 degrees on the asphalt, Stewart recovered from a pit road speeding penalty to finish 11th in his retirement year, and Gordon ran 13th in what was an unanticipated substitute role for ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr.

But Busch received his share of the applause, too, as fans have begun to acknowledge his ascent, at age 31, to the small group of elite drivers in NASCAR’s history.

To say he accomplished his second straight weekend sweep of the Indy races emphatically is to understate the case. In a race that went 25 miles beyond its scheduled distance, thanks to a rash of late cautions, Busch led 149 of 170 laps, a record for the event.

In the two-lap overtime shootout that decided the issue, Busch crossed the finish line an astounding 2.126 seconds ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, who ran second.

“This Toyota was awesome today,” said Busch, who won his second Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis, his fourth of the season and the 38th of his career. “It was just so fast and able to get out front and stay out front. Not even some of my teammates could challenge. This was hooked up and on rails.

“Adam Stevens (crew chief) and these guys are a phenomenal group, and I’m proud to be with them. It’s fun to come out here and have such a dominant piece at Indy. They don’t come along often, so I was just hoping I didn’t screw it up.”

Busch is acutely aware of the history of the sport, and completing a weekend sweep by winning both races from the pole was high on his bucket list.

“It’s so cool because it hasn’t been done before,” said the defending Sprint Cup champion, who is the second driver to win back-to-back races at the Brickyard—the other being Jimmie Johnson in 2008 and 2009. “I’ve tried and been successful at being able to do a lot of things that others haven’t been able to do before. I guess I give myself more chances than others because I run more of those (XFINITY) races.

“It helps you, and when it helps you win on Sunday, that’s what makes everything so worthwhile on those Saturday races. The guys on Saturday do a good job, too, helping prepare me and being able to do this stuff on Sunday.”

Busch was on cruise control, heading toward an easy victory, when NASCAR called a debris caution on Lap 150 to remove a piece of sheet metal near the exit from Turn 2.

One of six drivers who stayed out on older tires, Busch led the field to green on Lap 154. Moments later, the No. 19 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards tightened up in the inside lane, twitched out of control and ignited a five-car wreck that necessitated a stoppage that lasted 7 minutes, 25 seconds.

“It felt like I just got tight down there,” Edwards said. “I had a little trouble there on the starts, and I got down there, we were fighting really hard for the bottom, and it felt like I got tight with whoever was on the outside of me.

“If indeed that is what happened, I apologize. That’s pretty frustrating. … It felt like I got in there and just scrubbed that right front.”

The following two restarts also brought cautions, the eighth and final one coming when Jamie McMurray made an ill-advised lane change in front of Stewart near the end of pit road and spun sideways off the front bumper of Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet, also collecting Ryan Newman and Brian Scott.

When the race restarted on Lap 169, Busch cleared Joey Logano and Kenseth off Turn 1 and pulled away relentlessly until the finish.

Johnson overcame a pass-through penalty for speeding on pit road to run third, followed by Denny Hamlin, another speeding penalty victim and the third JGR driver in the top four. Kyle Larson came home fifth, posting his fourth top five of the season.

But the story of the day was the long good-bye from Stewart and Gordon, juxtaposed against the backdrop of Busch’s emphatic hello to greatness at the flag stand.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Speedway, Indiana
Sunday, July 24, 2016

1. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 170.
2. (18) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 170.
3. (13) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 170.
4. (4) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 170.
5. (10) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 170.
6. (7) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 170.
7. (14) Joey Logano, Ford, 170.
8. (8) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 170.
9. (12) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 170.
10. (23) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 170.
11. (3) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 170.
12. (16) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 170.
13. (21) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 170.
14. (22) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 170.
15. (15) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 170.
16. (11) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 170.
17. (5) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 170.
18. (26) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 170.
19. (9) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 170.
20. (33) Landon Cassill, Ford, 169.
21. (31) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 169.
22. (24) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 169.
23. (27) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 168.
24. (34) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 168.
25. (29) Aric Almirola, Ford, 168.
26. (37) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 168.
27. (32) Brian Scott #, Ford, 168.
28. (38) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 167.
29. (35) * Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 167.
30. (20) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 167.
31. (6) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, Accident, 166.
32. (36) * Ryan Ellis(i), Toyota, 166.
33. (39) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 165.
34. (40) Patrick Carpentier, Ford, 164.
35. (2) Carl Edwards, Toyota, Accident, 154.
36. (17) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, Accident, 152.
37. (28) David Ragan, Toyota, Accident, 117.
38. (25) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Overheating, 71.
39. (19) Greg Biffle, Ford, Accident, 53.
40. (30) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, Engine, 4.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 128.94 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 17 Mins, 46 Secs. Margin of Victory: 2.126 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 8 for 34 laps.
Lead Changes: 4 among 3 drivers.
Lap Leaders: Kyle Busch 1-26; B. Keselowski 27-41; Kyle Busch 42-55; J. Logano 56-61; Kyle Busch 62-170.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kyle Busch 3 times for 149 laps; B. Keselowski 1 time for 15 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 6 laps.
Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 671; B. Keselowski – 647; Kurt Busch – 627; J. Logano – 606; Kyle Busch – 601; C. Edwards – 593; M. Truex Jr. – 573; J. Johnson – 552; M. Kenseth – 545; D. Hamlin – 542; C. Elliott # – 525; A. Dillon – 520; R. Newman – 507; J. Mcmurray – 496; K. Larson – 472; K. Kahne – 462.


  1. open wheel fan says

    Brickyard Race was a boring and not exciting at all. #18 car had the field covered right from the start of the race. The crowd was a the worst crowd of any NASCAR race I have seen in a very long time. You wonder how they can continue with the Brickyard 400 with such poor attendance. There was basically nobody there and even under the covered stands there were no fans at all. That is a one of NASCAR premier races and turns out to be a disaster and you wonder what the sponsor must think with nobody showing up. The sports page stated they had 50 thousand fans but I think NASCAR inflated the attendance. Talking to a fan that went to Monadnock on Sunday they said that was a mistake and a 3 1/2 waste of time going up there . Terrible modified race and most of the field was a lap down.

  2. NASCAR is in Big Trouble!!! NHS was maybe half full. They decided some years ago that the new direction was all these young kids, and they lost their core fans. They left some of the orginal tracks for these crappy 1.5 ovals and lost fans. Back in the day Mark Martin would be the Only cup driver in a Busch Series race, now you have 4-5 cup drivers in there. Only my opinion, but they need to move some truck and Busch series races away from cup weekends, do more events at tracks like Eldora, A IRP, a Stafford, etc. The model has to change or the sport dies.

  3. Yeah, Indy has a capacity of 250,000, and they had less than 50,000 for this race. Years ago, there was a 5 year waiting list for Loudon tickets, now the place is empty and you can buy walk-up tickets the day of the event. And ticket prices are a fraction of what they were just a couple years ago. I was at the Loudon NWMT race and there were significantly less vendors and other merchants than years past, expecting smaller crowds.

    I was at Monadnock for the NWMT race. It was pretty good. The lack of cautions is why there were only 6 cars on the lead lap. Cautions bunch the cars up. Only two cautions. Do you want cautions or not? When there are no or few cautions, this is the result. So few cautions for a bullring that is not frequented by the Tour is pretty good.

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