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Kyle Busch completes first Brickyard weekend sweep

Kyle Busch completes first Brickyard weekend sweep
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The rest of the field saw a lot of Kyle Busch s bumper all weekend long at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  (Michael Conroy / AP)  

Sun., July 24, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS—Kyle Busch won the Brickyard 400 on Sunday to make it clean sweep at Indianapolis.

Busch led a race-record 149 of the 170 laps and beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth to the finish line by a healthy 2.126 seconds. Jimmie Johnson ran third, 2.638 seconds behind the defending Sprint Cup champ — thanks to double overtime forced by three late crashes.

Busch became the first NASCAR driver to sweep the Xfinity Series and Cup poles and races on the same weekend. He also joined Johnson as the only Cup drivers with back-to-back wins on Indy’s 2.5-mile oval. Johnson won in 2008 and 2009.

Tony Stewart wound up 11th in his final Brickyard race after being assessed a late penalty for speeding on pit road.

Five-time race winner Jeff Gordon finished 13th after coming out of retirement to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt is fighting concussion symptoms and has not yet been cleared by doctors to drive.

Before teams arrived in Indy on Thursday night, all the talk was about Stewart’s farewell and Gordon’s comeback. Even during the drivers’ meeting, Gordon and Stewart were front and centre. Gordon delivered a moving speech in which he thanked Stewart for the impact he’s had on the sport and ended with a standing ovation for the three-time Cup champ and two-time Brickyard winner. Afterward, the drivers toured the track together, likely for the final time on their home circuit.

But Busch’s domination overshadowed all of it. He surrendered the lead for 14 laps after his first pit stop, regained it when race leader Brad Keselowski pitted, then gave it up again for only five laps when he made his second pit stop. Everyone else spent the day chasing Busch.

The No. 18 car was so good that Roger Penske’s drivers started the day with a different strategy. The goal was to stretch out their runs long enough that they would have to make one fewer pit stop. It didn’t work. Logano finished seventh and Keselowski wound up 17th.

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

It started with Carl Edwards’ car wiggling in the first turn on a restart with seven laps to go. His car slid up the track, hitting Keselowski and catching Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick. Though nobody appeared to be seriously hurt, the wreck brought out a red flag for almost eight minutes.

On the ensuing restart, with three to go, Busch pulled away one more time only to have a collision between Trevor Bayne and Clint Bowyer behind him extend the race again.

It happened yet again when Jamie McMurray slid through the first turn and into the wall on the next restart, but Busch again pulled away to win the race that went 25 miles longer than scheduled.
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