Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

Kyle Busch completes weekend sweep with Sprint Cup win at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS — Kyle Busch spent most of this weekend hearing about a historic sweep.

On Sunday, he finally got to dust off the answers.

Busch led a record 149 of 170 laps and beat teammate Matt Kenseth to the finish line in the second overtime by 2.126 seconds to win his second straight Brickyard 400. Coupled with his Xfinity series success Saturday, Busch became the first NASCAR driver to win both poles and both races on the same weekend.

"I've never had a dominant car like this," Busch said after his fourth Sprint Cup win this season. "This is obviously a special day and a special car."

The impressive feat even overshadowed two other major story lines — Jeff Gordon's comeback and Tony Stewart's farewell.

Stewart finished 11th in his final race at Indianapolis, and Gordon was 13th. Gordon came out of retirement to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has concussion-like symptoms and has not been cleared by doctors to drive.

"It was better than last year," Gordon, 44, joked. "It was a fight. Wow! And I got kicked on the restarts."

Afterward Gordon and Stewart, 45, who both grew up in Indiana, drove side-by-side around the 21/2-mile oval one last time.

"I have gained so much respect and admiration for Tony," Gordon said. "I love this guy. I have always respected his talent."

But nobody was better than Busch this weekend.

One year after winning both Indy races, he joined third-place finisher Jimmie Johnson (2008-09) as the only back-to-back winners of the Brickyard.

Busch surrendered the lead for 14 laps after his first pit stop, regained it as Brad Keselowski pitted, then gave it up again for five laps on his second pit stop.

Everyone else spent their day chasing Busch in front of a crowd estimated at only 50,000 — less than half of what the race drew in its early years and about a seventh of the estimated crowd for this year's 100th Indianapolis 500.

Roger Penske's drivers started with a strategy of trying stretch their runs long enough to make one fewer pit stop. It didn't work. Joey Logano finished seventh and Keselowski 17th.

The only real challenge for Busch was a series of late crashes.

The crashes began when Carl Edwards' car wiggled in Turn 1 on a restart with seven laps to go. His car slid, hit Keselowski and started a chain reaction which collected Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick. Nobody was seriously hurt but the wreck brought out a red flag for almost eight minutes.

On the ensuing restart, with three to go, Busch pulled away but a collision between Trevor Bayne and Clint Bowyer forced the race into its first overtime.

It happened again on the next restart when Jamie McMurray slid through Turn 1 — the race actually ran 425 miles.

"I certainly didn't want one (restart), let alone five of them or however many there were," Busch said. "We just wanted the race to go green till the end. We had a really good long-run car till the end, so I felt like we'd be able to hold off all those guys behind us and then we had all those restarts."

 
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