Old Tires Pay Off For Kyle Busch in Indianapolisby Camille Jones July 24, 2016 0 comments
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Kyle Busch held off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson on old tires to win Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The win was Busch’s seventh victory in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2016. He becomes the first driver in the series’ history to ever win three consecutive races, two separate times in one season. So far this weekend, Busch has swept the weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series race and claiming the pole in both Saturday’s race and for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard. Busch was elated with his victory in the Lilly Diabetes 250. The win marked the 83rd of his career.
“It’s a pretty awesome feeling to be able to go back to victory lane here again this year and hopefully with sitting on the pole for tomorrow we can have another sweep here with that Skittles Camry,” Busch said.
The afternoon of racing began with two heat races to set the field for the 60-lap main event. After Busch won the pole in qualifying Saturday morning, he was lined up first in Heat 1. He led every lap of Heat 1 and won the event. Winning placed him on the pole for the main event.
In Heat 2, Busch’s teammate, Erik Jones, driver of the No. 20 Hisense USA Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing started on the pole, led each lap of the 20-lap event and claimed the victory. Winning the second heat race set him up to start second in the main event.
Quickly following the two heat races, the field was lined up for the main event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The intense heat of the summer afternoon in Indiana created an added obstacle for competitors as they prepared to take on the feature race.
Busch, the driver of the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, led 62 of 63 laps after the race that was scheduled to be 60 laps went into NASCAR Overtime following a late caution.
The first of only two cautions in the main event came out with 10 laps remaining as Erik Jones spun while running in the second position. There was no damage to his car, but he lost track position after having to pit due to a blown tire that caused the spin.
“I just wrecked all by myself,” Jones said. “I don’t know why, but I’ve been here twice and wrecked all by myself twice, so I need to figure something out. Unfortunately, we had a fast Camry and didn’t have a shot to win – we were second class all day – but it is what it is and try to be better when I come back.”
Under that same caution, Busch, the leader, chose to stay out on the track with old tires on his car, while the rest of the field pitted for new tires. On the restart with only eight laps remaining, Busch was lined up next to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Daniel Suarez, who was also on old tires, with Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick behind them. Busch soared off with the lead, while Suarez fell back immediately.
“Well, the new tires for those guys was good for them, but not for so good for us having old tires you know obviously, but I just dug in deep and gave it everything I had and knew I had to get really good restarts in there,” Busch said.
It seemed as though Busch had clinched his chance for the win, even as Larson and Harvick rallied behind him with fresh tires; however, with six laps remaining the second caution of the event came out as Harrison Rhodes and Ray Black, Jr. collided on the track and both cars suffered heavy damage, requiring extensive clean-up.
One restart on old tires was difficult, a second restart on old tires while holding off cars with new tires seemed almost impossible. When Busch took the green flag for NASCAR Overtime, Larson battled alongside him, but Busch prevailed. With a lap remaining, Harvick was able to clear Larson for the second position, but neither was able to keep up with Busch, who dominated the race from green-to-checkered.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Busch said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I just knew to make sure I got a good restart – as good of restarts as I could get – and that worked. It helped me. Certainly, the second to last one was really good. I got out front of (Kyle) Larson there and in the last one (Kevin) Harvick was right on me, but he must of pulled left in order to block those behind him and hold those guys back, but I had a good run through one and two and was able to go down the backstretch and not really get anybody too close to me, you know? Harvick I guess and Larson were racing each other, so that was the best thing for me to be able to kind of sneak away just a little bit.”
Finishing behind Busch in second was Kevin Harvick, followed by Paul Menard, Kyle Larson and Justin Allgaier rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez, Joey Logano, Ty Dillon and Brandon Jones.
Among the competitors in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, a “Dash 4 Cash” race within the event allows four NASCAR XFINITY Series to earn a spot in their heat race to compete in the main event for a chance at a $100,000 bonus. The top-two NASCAR XFINITY Series regular in each heat race advances in the Dash 4 Cash, then the highest-finishing competitor in the main event will win the bonus.
Daniel Suarez and Elliott Sadler claimed the first two Dash 4 Cash spots in Heat 1. Erik Jones and Justin Allgaier claimed the two Dash 4 Cash spots out of the second heat race.
Justin Allgaier, driving the No. 7 Brandt Chevrolet for JR Motorsports claimed the $100,000 bonus after battling with Sadler, his teammate, in the final laps of the main event.
After 18 races in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series season, Daniel Suarez leads Elliott Sadler by 14 points in the championship standings. Both drivers have now locked themselves into the Chase that will decide the championship. Ty Dillon I third, 50 points back.
Next on the schedule for the NASCAR XFINITY Series is the U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, July 30. The race will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 8 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images