Kyle Busch was hungry to bring home a coveted win in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 21st annual Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
But one thing that was in the way of Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), was four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who pulled away from Busch on the final restart of the race to bring home his record fifth win at Indianapolis.
“I don’t think anybody had anything for the 24 (Gordon),” said Busch, who now has three top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 10 career Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis. “Those guys were really, really fast, but it was also a great day for this SNICKERS Camry. I can’t say enough about everybody at Joe Gibbs with all the hard work and everything they’ve done this year. They’re helping give our program a boost and moving forward a little bit. I think this was a really big day for JGR and for Toyota. I’m proud of the effort to bring all three home in the top-five.
“Still know that we have more work to do, but still an opportunity there to gain speed and we obviously got beat by speed today. I still think we have to go to work some, but the last few races have been good for us and we appreciate the support from M&M’s, SNICKERS and Toyota, of course. We’ll keep going.”
After starting 12th, Busch and the SNICKERS team used patience and smart pit strategy to vault themselves up to fifth by lap 71. Much like a strategy at a road course race, crew chief Dave Rogers brought Busch to pit road each time the No. 18 was in a fuel window to make it on the least amount of pit stops possible. This strategy was important because it can be very difficult to pass at Indianapolis, and spending the least amount of time on pit road can be a key to victory.
Busch’s SNICKERS Camry settled into second by lap 74, and while he was fighting a loose-handling condition, the track position dropped him no further than third the remainder of the 160-lap race. After pitting for the final time on lap 128, Busch found himself third when the final caution of the race waved with 20 laps to go. On the final restart, Busch was able to sneak by second-place Kasey Kahne entering turn two, but eventual race winner Gordon was too strong to handle and Busch brought home his third second-place finish in the last four races.
“There was no catching the 24 (Gordon), he was in a league of his own,” said Busch. “It seemed like anybody that he got behind he was able to pass those guys. At this place, aero situations are so difficult that he could handle through it and pass guys in the long run. His car was really good today and that proved just being able to get out there so far and then he was just riding. I was trying to save my stuff so the guys behind me didn’t catch me. It was a great day for Joe Gibbs Racing here finishing two, three, four — real proud of that and having the SNICKERS Camry come home second means a lot to our guys and looking forward to the next few weeks.”