All three Joe Gibbs Racing entries started in the top ten for today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and for much of the day it appeared all three would finish in the top ten as well.
When it was over Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin were able to remain in the top ten and earn second and sixth-place finishes respectively, while a late race accident would leave Joey Logano to finish a disappointing 33rd, despite running the majority of the race just outside the top five.
Busch started seventh in the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota and was one of the fastest cars on the track through the early portion of the race as he climbed up through the field to race in third. Busch would be racing his way out of the pits during a stop under caution on lap 43 when suddenly his engine appeared to stall with a large puff of black smoke. Busch would get the car re-fired and return to the track, but he would lose a good deal of track position. The setback didn’t deter Busch long however as he remained fast on the track and was able to climb back inside the top 10 to race eighth for a restart on lap 50. He continued the climb toward the front of the field and was racing sixth by lap 60 and fourth by lap 68. Busch would make a huge move on the low side of the track during a restart on lap 100 that allowed him to move from seventh all the way up to second. Busch would hold onto to that spot through several late-race restarts to earn an impressive second-place finish.
Hamlin qualified his No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota on the pole for the start of today’s Brickyard 400 and held that top spot for 27 laps and through the first round of pit stops. He would settle into the second position for the next stretch of the race and the FedEx crew would get him off pit road first to allow him to restart second on lap 46 alongside the 2 car which elected not to pit under the caution. Hamlin felt as if he had a flat tire on the restart however and would run up high on the track losing several positions. Fortunately the tire was not flat, but the loose restart would cause him several positions and drop him back to 14th. Hamlin would patiently race his way back toward the front of the field and was able to re-enter the top ten on lap 87. A big restart on lap 100 saw Hamlin jump from ninth all the way up to fourth. Hamlin would go on to finish with a strong sixth-place effort.
Logano started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in third and battled through some loose handling conditions before settling in to race in the sixth position through the early going. The Dollar General team would make the necessary adjustments to help Logano find grip on the track and he would continue to battle inside the top ten through the first half of the race. The team would take a bigger swing at adjustments while under caution on lap 95 and the longer than normal pit stop would cost Logano several spots in track position as he would restart 21st on lap 100. Great work by the Dollar General crew on the next stop down pit road would jump Logano back up inside the top 15, but an accident on lap 132 would effectively end his day early when he would be sent spinning and make contact with the wall. The team would get Logano back on the track for a few more laps but he would have to settle with a disappointing 33rd-place finish.
Jimmie Johnson picked up the win, with Busch second, Greg Biffle third, Dale Earnhardt, Jr fourth and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five. There were five cautions for a total of 25 laps with 17 lead changes among nine different drivers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Pocono next week for the Pennsylvania 400 on Sunday, August 5. Coverage of the race will be on ESPN beginning at 1 PM ET (pre-race show starts at Noon ET). You can also keep track of all the action every day by following @joegibbsracing on twitter.