Brickyard 400 Recap
Kyle Busch led Joe Gibbs Racing with a 10th-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Meanwhile teammates Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin would finish 25th and 27th respectively as different fuel strategies resulted in a shuffled field.
Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota from the 29th position and battled handling conditions through the early portion of the race, especially attempting to pass other competitors. Pit strategy would help Busch move into the top ten and we settle into the eighth position at the midpoint of the race. A caution on lap 94 would bring Busch back down pit road for two tires, but as he went to exit his pit stall he would make contact with the No. 14 of Tony Stewart causing damage to his right front. The M&Ms crew would make quick repairs, but Busch would lose critical track position and be forced to restart from the 31st position on lap 97. The setback didn’t deter Busch however as he was able to climb back into 20th position by lap 110. Unfortunately a few laps later Busch would make contact with the wall resulting in the loss of that essential track position. A few laps later a wreck toward the front of the field would allow Busch the opportunity to come back down pit road one last time to ensure he would have enough fuel to make it to the end once he restarted with 34 laps remaining. That strategy paid dividends with Busch racing back into the top ten when the rest of the field was forced to come down pit road for a final splash of gas. Despite all the setbacks he would manage to bring his M&Ms Toyota home in 10th-place.
Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the 20th position and loose conditions would plague his Camry through the early portion of the race. He would run just outside the top 20 at the midpoint of the race as the car changed back and forth from tight to loose. Following a round of pit stops under caution on lap 97, Logano would restart in the 25th position and quickly ascend into the top 20 and was racing in the 19th spot with 50 laps remaining. A two-tire pit stop would allow Logano to restart ninth on lap 116. A few laps later Logano would manage to avoid several cars in front of him and when the race readied for a restart with 34 laps remaining he would find himself in the 10th position. He would come down pit road one final time with 28 laps remaining for fuel and right side tires. Many teams would gamble on fuel mileage or come in for a quick splash to help them get to the end when all the shuffling was done the No. 20 Home Depot would finish in the 25th position.
Denny Hamlin qualified the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota in the 14th position, but an engine change during practice on Friday would force him to the back of the field when the green flag dropped to start the race. Hamlin would gain ground on the field through the early going, but pit strategy helped him advance all the way into the fifth position roughly 50 laps into the race. At the midpoint of the race Hamlin would find himself in the 10th position. By lap 100 he would race in the seventh position despite battling tight conditions on his No. 11 Camry. Hamlin would restart seventh with 34 laps remaining. He would come down pit road for one final time under the green flag with 29 laps remaining for a final set of fresh tires and fuel. The necessary stop would shuffle him back in the field as many cars made the decision to gamble on stretching their fuel mileage or only come down pit road for a quick splash of gas. Hamlin would go on to finish 27th. .
Paul Menard captured the victory, while Jeff Gordon was second, Regan Smith third, Jamie McMurray fourth, and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five. There were five cautions for a total of 21 laps over the course of the 160-lap race.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Pocono next weekend on Sunday, August 7. Live Coverage will be on ESPN starting at Noon ET (race starts at 1 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius Radio NASCAR channel 90.