INDIANAPOLIS – There was no celebratory burnout — Kyle Busch has done plenty of those the past few weeks — just another big, fat kiss at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Busch’s triumphant return following a horrible crash the day before the season-opening Daytona 500 continued Sunday with one of the biggest wins of his career. He grabbed an elusive victory at Indy, where Busch won the Brickyard 400 for a weekend sweep at the historic track.
Busch missed the first 11 races of the season becauseof a broken right leg and broken left foot. He returned in late May and has won three consecutive Sprint Cup Series races and four of the last five.
His latest win was celebrated with the traditional kissing of the Yard of Bricks, where he was accompanied by his wife and son, who was born in May.
“Being away for 11 weeks, it was tough. It was pretty hard times,” Busch said. “It was tough to fight through all those things that I had to go through, Samantha had to go through while she was pregnant. She was helping me. All the steps that we went through to get back into the race car were quite challenging.”
Now he has a prestigious Brickyard win to give him one of NASCAR’s elusive crown jewels. His Indianapolis victory ranks alongside his Southern 500 win at Darlington Raceway as the biggest of his career.
Busch, who also won the second-tier Xfinity Series race Saturday at Indianapolis, moved 23 points away from cracking the top 30 in the standings. NASCAR granted him a waiver that will make him eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship should he be ranked inside the top 30 in points.
“We’re a championship contending team, we just need to be championship eligible,” Busch said.
The win for Joe Gibbs Racing was the first Sprint Cup Series victory at Indianapolis for Toyota, which has now won at all 23 active tracks. Toyota has won the past six national series races dating to Busch’s win at Kentucky, and JGR has won four consecutive poles and four consecutive races.
Kevin Harvick was third in a Chevrolet, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Busch teammate Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer. Matt Kenseth, another Gibbs driver, was seventh, followed by Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson.
Jeff Gordon’s final Brickyard 400 was a huge bust as an early spin caused considerable damage that eventually sent him to the garage for repairs. Gordon, who has a record five victories at Indianapolis, finished 42nd. He’s retiring at the end of the year.
“It was disappointing,” Gordon said. “I have had an amazing career here in Indy. The fans have been spectacular. I am not going to let a couple races overthrow the races that have gone well.”