With a last lap pass on Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch drove on to victory in the Lilly Diabetes 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday. It was Busch’s second series win at the track in four total Xfinity races at Indianapolis.
“I just got close enough to make him mess up,” Busch said.
Blaney was relegated to second after taking the white flag with the lead. Daniel Suarez finished third, Paul Menard was fourth, and Elliott Sadler finished fifth.
After the third and final caution of the race just inside 30 laps to go in the 100-lap race, Busch restarted with the lead and Blaney in second. Blaney took the lead when the race returned to green and was able to hold off Busch until the final lap. Busch was able to close on Blaney when Blaney’s momentum was broken by the lapped car of Derrike Cope with three laps remaining. Then, Blaney missed his mark on the final lap, enabling Busch to make the pass.
“He got a run on me; it’s my fault,” Blaney said. “Driver gave it away.”
Joe Gibbs dominated qualifying earlier in the day, with Busch taking the pole and Suarez and Jones starting second and third. The teammates exchanged spots within the top-three, including an exchange for the lead between Busch and Suarez on lap 11, but they ran one-two-three until the first caution on lap 13.
Busch stayed out, along with the Richard Childress Racing teammates Menard and Ty Dillon, but for Busch not hitting pit road was a mistake brought about by team miscommunication.
Busch did, though, pit during the second caution on lap 23, but Dillon stayed out, even though he didn’t pit during the first yellow flag, either. Dillon, and a few others, instead, waited until after lap 35 to pit under green, planning to run the remainder of the race with just one additional stop. Kyle Larson was among the others who adopted the same strategy.
Dillon and Larson ran first and second until heading down pit road, Dillon on lap 35 and Larson a couple laps later. As others who stayed out during the second caution of the race headed for pit road under green, Busch worked his way back up toward the front, going from outside the top-10 on the second restart to the lead on lap 40.
Busch was also able to make it the remaining distance with just one additional stop after pitting during the lap-23 caution, making his final stop on lap 64. Dillon after his strategy of making his first stop during green-flag conditions, made his final stop on lap 67. Larson last pitted on lap 68.
With everyone’s stops completed, Busch was the race leader, with Blaney in second and Suarez in third. Busch and Suarez’s JGR teammate, Jones, brought out the final yellow flag with just under 30 laps to go.
Larson and Dillon both finished in the top-10 with Larson finishing seventh and Dillon ninth. Other top-10 finishers included Kevin Harvick in sixth, Regan Smith in eighth and Chase Elliott in 10th.
“All in all, our Bass Pro Chevy was really good,” Dillon said. “Our strategy was a little off.”
As the highest-finisher among the four drivers battling for the $100,000 Xfinity Dash 4 Cash bonus, Smith took the bonus for Indianapolis was will be one of the four drivers competing for the bonus the next time it’s offered at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway in August. Other drivers competing for the bonus at Indy included Elliott, Brendan Gaughan and Chris Buescher. Gaughan finished 13th and Buescher 16th.
“I’m excited to get to Bristol and race for it there,” Smith said.
As the highest-finishing Xfinity Series championship-eligible drivers, Blaney, Suarez and Sadler will compete against Smith for the Bristol bonus.