Busch turns weekend into clean sweep with Brickyard 400 win

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INDIANAPOLIS — Kyle Busch heard all about the potential to pull off a historic sweep at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

On Sunday, he accomplished the feat.

Busch led a record 149 of 170 laps and beat teammate Matt Kenseth to the finish line in a second overtime to win his second straight Brickyard 400. Coupled with an Xfinity Series victory a day earlier, 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 celebrating his fourth win of the season with his wife and son. “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, while Gordon was 13th. Gordon came out of retirement to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has battled concussion-like symptoms and has missed two consecutive races and will also sit out next week at Pocono. Gordon will replace him there, as well.

Afterward the two drivers who grew up in Indiana drove side-by-side around the 2.5-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.”

Everybody respected Busch’s talent this weekend, too.

The reigning Sprint Cup Series champion, who used last year’s win at the Brickyard to jumpstart his title campaign, joined third-place finisher Jimmie Johnson as the only back-to-back winners of NASCAR’s race at Indy. Johnson won in 2008 and 2009.

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

Everyone else spent their day chasing Busch.

The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was so strong that 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 wound up 17th.

The only real challenge for Busch came with a series of late crashes that delayed his inevitable trip to victory lane.

The crashes began when Carl Edwards’ car wiggled in the first turn on a restart with seven laps to go. His car slid up the track, hitting Keselowski, as well as Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick. The wreck brought out a red flag for almost eight minutes.

On the ensuing restart, with three to go, Busch again pulled away only to have a collision between Trevor Bayne and Clint Bowyer behind him to send the race into first overtime.

It happened again when Jamie McMurray slid through the first turn and into the wall on the next restart, but Busch pulled away one more time for a historic win in a race that actually took 425 miles.

“I certainly didn’t want one, let alone five (overtimes) 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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WHO’S HOT: Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. The team had three cars finish in the top five and heads to Pocono with back-to-back victories. Toyota, meanwhile, had three of its cars place in the top four.

WHO’S NOT: Hendrick Motorsports. Yes, Johnson ended a four-race streak with no top-threes but nobody else finished in the top 10 and none of the four cars was even in contention for the lead.

TOUGH WEEK: Greg Biffle wanted this weekend to be a tribute for his late father, who died Tuesday. Instead, Biffle’s day ended early after he crashed on Lap 52.

EMPTY SEATS: It’s tough to fill roughly 250,000 seats. But the estimated crowd of about 50,000 left plenty of seats empty at a race that has seen attendance steadily dwindle over the past eight years. The lone exception came in 2015 — in what was supposed to be Gordon’s “final ride.”

HE SAID IT: When Busch was asked whether his success over the past two years at Indy would prompt him to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Kurt, and run in the Indianapolis 500, Kyle Busch responded: “Well, I won’t be following in his footsteps, I’ll be doing my own footsteps. It certainly may open up some avenues, I’m not sure.”

UP NEXT: Pocono Raceway, July 31. Kenseth is the defending race winner.

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