Kyle Busch led a record 149 laps and dominated today’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to repeat as Brickyard 400 champion and in the process swept the weekend of NASCAR racing. It was a strong day across Joe Gibbs Racing as well with teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin joining Busch in the top five with second and fourth-place finishes respectively. Meanwhile a late-race accident took Carl Edwards out of the top five to finish back in 35th.
Kyle Busch started the No. 18 Skittles Toyota on the pole and was fast from the outset leading the opening 26 laps before a round of green flag pit stops allowed others to take the point briefly. However once the round of green flag pit stops concluded he would quickly ascend back to the lead where he continued to run through the halfway point of the race. He continued to lead when a caution with 40 laps remaining brought the leaders down pit road. The Skittles crew would keep him on point and Busch restarted as the leader with 33 laps remaining. The defending race champion would hold the lead through the restart when another caution came out with 29 laps to go. He would restart as the leader again with 26 laps to go. Busch would have to battle through several late cautions and restarts including two green-white-checker attempts to earn the hard fought victory. The win is JGR’s fifth Brickyard 400 victory.
Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in 18th and patiently raced his way toward the top ten which he entered shortly after the opening round of green flag pit stops. He was all the way up to sixth by lap 50. Kenseth continued his climb into the top five and was running fourth before lap 70. Kenseth moved into third just after the halfway mark. He continued to run third when a caution with 40 laps remaining brought the leaders down pit road. The Dollar General Camry would restart fourth with 33 laps to go. He would drop to fifth before another caution but used the ensuing restart to gain back those spots. Kenseth would hold the third position with 25 laps remaining. He would go on through several late restarts to finish second behind only his teammate Busch.
Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota from the fourth position and was able to race his way up into second where he remained at lap 50. Hamlin continued to run well and was in the sixth position at the halfway mark. A pit road speeding penalty during a round of green flag pit stops on lap 86 would force Hamlin to serve a pass through penalty dropping him back outside of the top 15. He was up to 14th when a caution with 40 laps remaining brought the leaders down pit road. Hamlin would line up 11th for the restart with 33 laps to go. Another caution would set up another restart with Hamlin in 10th with 26 laps remaining. Crew chief Mike Wheeler would bring Hamlin down pit road for four fresh tires following a caution with 10 laps to go and that move would pay off over the course of several late restarts as he managed to drive all the way up to finish fourth.
Carl Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota from the second position but dealt with tight handling conditions early on and settled in to race just outside the top five on the opening green flag run of the race. He would re-enter the top five following the first round of green flag stops and was running third at lap 50. Edwards was up to second running just behind his teammate Busch at the halfway mark. He continued to run second when a caution with 40 laps remaining brought the leaders down pit road. Edwards would line up second for the restart with 33 laps to go. Another caution would set up another restart with 26 laps remaining. Edwards would get tight on the restart and drop back to run fifth. He was lined up fifth for a restart with six laps to go when contact from behind set off a chain reaction accident that left Edwards with major damage. His day would end back in 35th.
Busch captured the win, followed by Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Hamlin and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 34 laps and four lead changes among three different drivers. The race was extended 10 laps for a green-white-checker finish.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Pocono Raceway next Sunday. Live coverage of the Pennsylvania 400 will be carried by NBCSN on Sunday, July 31 starting with its pre-race show at 1 PM ET (race starts at 1:30 PM ET). Live coverage will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.