SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Kyle Busch’s virtually perfect afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway continued during the second stage of Sunday’s Brickyard 400, as he took his seventh stage win of the year and moved one step closer to his third-straight win in the crown jewel event.
After ceding the point to make a mid-stage pit stop, Busch charged back from ninth to first, passing Ryan Blaney with 14 laps to go before the stage break and going on to win the stage by 4.025 seconds over Martin Truex Jr.
Busch becomes the fourth driver to sweep the first two stages of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this season — joining Truex, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney — as he seeks his third-straight Brickyard 400 win.
“I think our weapon around this track is the guy holding the steering wheel,” crew chief Adam Stevens said of Busch. “He’s really owned the place and I think our strong suit is how he dials it in during practice. He really focuses in on what we need during the race and the last couple of years, we’ve been able to find it.”
Cautions at lap 57, when a three-car accident collected J.J. Yeley, Jeffrey Earnhardt and David Ragan; and at lap 71, when Yeley blew a right front tire; slowed the pace early during the second stage and led to a variety of strategies as the 50-lap stint wore on.
After Busch led the opening 71 laps of the race, Erik Jones stayed out under the second caution of the stage and led the field back to green when racing resumed on lap 76.
However, the yellow flag returned just as swiftly, after Dale Earnhardt Jr. made contact with Trevor Bayne in front of him and went up in smoke with a busted radiator in his final Brickyard 400 attempt.
By that point, Busch was back up to sixth after restarting ninth, and he picked off two more positions on the next restart at lap 81 as Blaney shot around the outside of Jones to assume command.
That was the last lead change until Busch reasserted his dominance, with Truex, Blaney, Jones and Kevin Harvick coming across second through fifth, in that order.
Matt Kenseth. Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray completed the points-scoring drivers in the top 10.