If there was any doubt, it was put to rest this weekend.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch is back, and back with a vengeance. Busch left Indianapolis Motor Speedway with wins in both the Xfinity Series Lilly Diabetes 250 on Saturday and Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday. The win, Busch’s third straight and fourth in five races, helped move Busch to just 23 points out of 30th place in points, the magic position he needs to secure a place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Busch started ninth in the No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry, moved quickly into the top five, and stayed in the top 10 much of the day. A caution flag at the 40-to-go mark brought Busch and others into the pits, where a quick stop got him out first, allowing him to restart fifth behind the four drivers who stayed out. Busch stayed out during another caution with 20 laps to go, lining up third with 14 laps to go. Busch took the lead away from Kevin Harvick on lap 153 and held on through late cautions and two green-white-checkered attempts to win his first Brickyard 400.
“I can’t believe what’s going on,” said Busch. “Everybody is going to be chasing the rainbow tonight, that’s for sure. This Skittles Camry was awesome. I know if we could just get out front we could just go. Adam Stevens (crew chief) and these guys they dialed it in again. Thanks Sprint and Toyota and the fans. It’s really a treat to win here at Indy. I appreciate all the fans that I have, all the fans that NASCAR has and Toyota has now captured a win at every single active Cup Series race track – that’s pretty awesome for us to be able to do that. I can’t thank this crew enough. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing, all the men and women there, you work so hard and pour your hearts into it. I can’t thank everyone that has stood behind me all year.”
“He’s been unstoppable,” said JGR teammate Matt Kenseth. “I can’t speak for him and what’s in his head – what’s in his head is usually scary. Being hurt and being out that long, there’s got to be some – not doubts but you wonder what it’s going to be like when you get back, if you’re going to come back as good as before or whatever, and he’s come back better. Happy for him and happy for that team – Adam (Stevens, crew chief) does a great job with that team and for the company.”
Kenseth started 23rd in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota and went on to finish seventh, while Denny Hamlin started 17th and finished fifth in the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota. Carl Edwards, who started on pole in the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota, finished 13th after running in the top 10 for much of the race; a late-race restart and side-by-side racing led to contact with Joey Logano and caused Edwards to fall back on the field.
Logano finished second, followed by Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.
After starting from the pole on Saturday, Busch went to victory lane in the Xfinity Series race at Indy as well, leading four times for 53 laps in the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry. Daniel Suarez started second and finished third in the No. 18 ARRIS Toyota, leading three laps, while Erik Jones finished a disappointing 34th after starting third in the No. 20 GameStop Toyota.
Ryan Blaney finished second, with Paul Menard and Elliott Sadler finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
The Xfinity Series heads to Iowa Speedway for a race on Saturday, August 1, while the Cup Series visits Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania on Sunday, August 2. Keep up with the action at joegibbsracing.com.