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In the 107 year history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway there hasn’t been a more dominant performance then the one Kyle Busch delivered this weekend.
After leading 62 of 63 laps in Saturday’s victory in the Lilly Diabetes 250, Busch saved the best for last on Sunday leading 149 of 170 laps en route to becoming the first driver in history to sweep both poles and races at the Brickyard holding off Matt Kenseth by 2.126 seconds to score the victory.
Busch also became the second driver in history to win back to back Brickyard 400’s joining Jimmie Johnson as the only drivers to accomplish the feat.
“I felt pretty good to be up front and obviously you’ve got to do everything in your power to not screw it up,” Busch said.
“I can imagine if I would have … beaten one of those guys with the super fast cars [in the past] how they would have felt because I know how I would have felt here today.”
Busch talked about how important the restarts were today at Indy with track position being at a premium.
“We had the race in our hands that we can manipulate the restarts how I needed to and make sure that I got to the No. 1 spot and Matt [Kenseth] was able to do the same thing last week [at New Hampshire],” Busch said.
“Each and every week, it’s power to the leader. That’s what we’ve all kind of asked for with this bigger restart zone and stuff, too, so when you are the race leader that you’ve earned that right to restart how you want.”
Jimmie Johnson was able to rally to a third place finish after being a lap down late in the going. He was followed by: Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five.
Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon, and Paul Menard rounded out the top ten.
Notables included: Tony Stewart 11th, Jeff Gordon 13th, Chase Elliott 15th, Kurt Busch 16th, Brad Keselowski 17th, Kasey Kahne 18th, Clint Bowyer 21st, Danica Patrick 22nd, Ryan Newman 31st, and Carl Edwards finished 35th after being caught up in a late race incident.
In a race lacking highlights, the highlight of the race came after the checkered flag had fallen when Stewart and Gordon took a ceremonial lap around the 2.5 mile oval side by side in what was likely barring unforeseen circumstances the last Brickyard 400 for both sure fire hall of famers. After coming back on pit road, Stewart and Gordon hugged.
“For us to share that moment together, I mean that’s probably our last lap around here in a professional race, and I’ll cherish that moment,” Stewart said. “It’s something that doesn’t happen very often.
“It was pretty cool. … We’re never going to get that chance to do that again.”
“Tony and I have gone through a lot over the years, but he and I have become really good friends,” Gordon said. “I was with him when he got hurt this year. … I learned a lot about Tony Stewart. He’s driven. He’s tough.
“To see him in that pain I saw him in and come back and win Sonoma [last month] and be out here driving like this with a chance at a championship when this whole thing is over, that’s impressive.”
If there was any doubts about the future of NASCAR, those doubts are shattered each weekend by the Camping World Truck Series as once again, a young crop of drivers continued to impress. While Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch took the top-two spots, the rest of the top-five was swept by the youth of series.
18-year-old John Hunter Nemechek picked up his best career finish, finishing third after running as high as second in the closing laps of the UNOH 200.
“We had an up-and down night,” he admitted post-race. “We took four tires on the pit stop and never pitted again. I didn’t think we were going to be able to make it back up through the field. Those guys all took two tires and it was really hard to pass on the bottom. The set that we put on was a really tight set. You had to run the top, and it’s what it was. You had to get all of your positions on the restart. I’m kind of glad that we went back green there. The top-side rolled pretty good which was good, and an advantage for us. Got to give it to my crew chief. I didn’t think the call was worth it. We finished third and got beat by tires.”
In the late stages after a restart with 34 laps to go, it looked as though Nemechek would have a good shot at winning his first career race, running second and chasing after Matt Crafton. However, Ryan Blaney was even quicker than Nemechek and made the pass, bumping him back to third.
“I thought we had something for Crafton,” Nemechek commented. “I knew Blaney was coming there at three tenths a lap. You just had to race smart there at the end. You wanted to win, you wanted to keep him behind you, but he was going to get by you one way or another – whether move you or wreck you. You had to be smart with how you were going to race him and my crew chief just said let him go, and that’s what we did, and got beat by it.”
Nemechek was then able to maintain his spot despite a late-race green-white-checkered restart.
Daniel Hemric finished fourth, continuing his strong rookie season with NTS Motorsports. He now has a pair of top-fives and eight top-10s in 13 races.
“We had a really fast Chevrolet tonight,” Hemric commented. “We had a good truck all night and wanted to come down pit road to make one more adjustment, but track position was key. We made positive gains all weekend. It was great to get a top-five for Brennan Newberry in the 125th start for NTS.”
Brandon Jones rounded out the top-five, finishing fifth for his first career top-five finish in the Camping World Truck Series.
While the veterans continue to prove they have what it takes, youth is certainly showing that they’re just as strong at each turn on the schedule.
Written by Cliff Tanner
Host of Radio Speedtalk and Balance Contributor
Two weeks of promises. Tow very long weeks of anticipation. All it did was remind me of Heinz Catsup. Really?
Don’t get me wrong it was a great race Sunday at Martinsville. The race wasn’t a total disappointment. It was typical Martinsville short track racing. There was a great amount of beating and banking for sure. New rivalries started I believe. But not like Fontana.
Tony Stewart promised to get Joey Logano back for his blocking of Stewart at Fontana. Now granted I know that it doesn’t necessarily mean it would be the nest race but you can’t tell me you weren’t looking for it too. Hell the whole NASCAR Nation was looking for it. Tell me I’m wrong.
There were a couple of opportunities for it to happen. Logano was very strong early on in the race. He came around Stewart with no issues at all. Now you tell me that you were not thinking alright here we go.
Now I have to believe that there are several reasons for that. One is that being early in the season no one wanted to take the chance and get fined or lose points. Secondly Stewart admitted that it was so last race. Yes there can be some tempers that flare up and they can say they forget.
Yeah right I believe that last one. You see in all the years I have been around racing a driver never forgets. The memory of an elephant they say. There will be repercussions I can promise you that. However it could be weeks, months or even years.
Now that I have said that we find Joey Logano with some more enemies. Yes I know Denny Hamlin said that he is upset and he won’t forget. Believe it or not I am not talking about that. I am not sure how many of you caught the comment made by Kurt Busch earlier in the race. Busch had cut down a tire and had to head to pit road. They played audio later and he said, “You know that was the 22 that caused that.” Poor Joey.
I will tell you this I am so glad to see Logano start to be the driver I felt he was capable of being. He is out there starting to not take anything from anybody. He is just starting to finally earn the respect of the other drivers. Remember it wasn’t all that long ago that his teammate Brad Keselowski went through the same thing.
Enough about that. Yes there was still a race that went one. What a race it turned out to be. Jimmie Johnson took the pole and dominated the race. He led a total of 376 of 500 laps. It wasn’t without drama though I guarantee you that.
After having a car that just didn’t work right Jeff Gordon and his crew got that 24 car fixed right and he was charging hard. He was picking off drivers like they put a jet engine in his car. He definitely had the car to beat on the long run. However a late caution flag meant he had to finish the race on a less than 20 lap race.
Gordon had driven through the field to second place when Kurt Busch caught tire and crashed into the wall. It was a sight to see. We witnessed what the under the hood fire extinguisher can do. It put out the engine fire out fast.
So with Johnson and first and Gordon in second we were sure to see a great finish. However with Gordon not doing well and Johnson starting on the inside made it a tough task. Johnson immediately ran to the bottom and put some distance on the rest of the field. Jimmie cruised to victory the rest of the way. The win broke a tie for third place on the all time wins list at Martinsville. Johnson took home his eighth grandfather clock.
Clint Bowyer came in second followed by Jeff Gordon. Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. Mark Martin who substituted for Denny Hamlin in the 11 car overcame a horrible day to finish 10th. Marcos Ambrose started second but had some bad racing luck as well but recovered to finish eighth.
However the most impressive drive of the day came from a rookie. Danica Patrick spun out early in the race. Twice she came back from two laps down. She drove a nice clean race and until the final lap she had the best looking car out there. I don’t mean mechanical wise but clean. Hardly a dent or scratch on it. Which as you know is pretty damn good for Martinsville.
Whether you love her or hate Danica she gained a lot of respect from me. She got out there on the track with the feeling of just wanting to get some time and experience on the track. She got it alright. She finished 12th overall. She was also the top finishing rookie in the race.
Now earlier I said two things. One is that a new rivalry started and that Danica had a clean car until the last lap. Now on the last lap Brian Vickers who I would say had the worst looking car out there cosmetically decided to have a drag race with Danica, Kevin Harvick and himself. He banged off of Danica several times which in turn she banged into Harvick. Danica held her own and won the drag race. Harvick finished 14 and Vickers 13.
Well apparently Harvick didn’t like the move and turned Vickers as they crossed the finish line. As we all know Harvick doesn’t like to take stuff off others more than most. It didn’t stop there. As they approached the pits Harvick turned into Vickers a couple of more times to let him know his displeasure. So there you go a new rivalry. Funny thing was it wasn’t covered very heavily by FOX.
Well the bottom line here folks is simply this. If you saw the race you will see why I say we need more short tracks. NASCAR was built on the short tracks and they should remain that way. Kenny Wallace has agreed with me on Speed Talk. He mentioned that we should put some short tracks inside the bigger ones. This was we have one race that is the big race and the second be the short track. I agree Kenny Wallace.
I’m outta here,