Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
Eric McClure and the Hefty®/Reynolds® Team finished 31st in Saturday’s Nationwide Series event at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway after overheating issues forced two un-scheduled green flag pit stops during the 100-lap event. With this finish, the team dropped two spots to 25th in the NASCAR Owner Standings and is currently 54 points out of the 20thposition heading into next weekend’s event at Iowa Speedway.
Starting the race from the 36th position, McClure quickly gained two spots in the running order where he remained until making a scheduled green flag pit stop on lap 28. Battling a car that was tight in the center and on exit of the turns, crew chief Todd Myers instructed the team to change four tires, add fuel, and make an air-pressure and chassis adjustment. When all cars had made their stops, McClure was scored in the 33rd position.
Over the next few laps, McClure informed Myers that the adjustments made had helped the car’s drivability in the center and exit of the turns, but had hurt the car’s handling on entry. When the event’s first caution flag waved on lap 50, McClure returned to pit road for four tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment in hopes of helping the car’s handling. After quick work from the Hefty®/Reynolds® team, McClure was scored in the 29th position when the race resumed on lap 55.
Two laps later, McClure began overheating as the water temperature was 280 degrees and rising. After making two un-scheduled green flag pit stops on lap 60 and 65 to clean the grill and add water to the radiator, the event’s second caution flag waved on lap 65. With the water pressure gauge still reading zero, McClure returned to pit road where the team once again added water to the radiator. When the race resumed on lap 70, the team was scored in the 31st position, five laps down to the race leader.
Running on a lap by himself, McClure was unable to advance his position in the final 30 laps, and in the end was credited with a 31st-place finish.
After qualifying fifth and running inside the top 10 for the majority of the Indiana 250 at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway (IMS), Parker Kligerman appeared to be in position for a strong finish late in the race, until he was ran into from behind, knocked loose and then when things got three-wide ended up pinned against the outside wall. With damage to the front fenders of his No. 77 Toyota, the talented youngster was forced to visit pit road. After getting four tires, fuel and quick repairs to the fenders of his Camry, the Connecticut native restarted 21st with just six laps remaining. He was able to pick up three spots in the closing laps, but came home with a disappointing 18th-place finish in his first career start at the historic speedway.
"We ran in the top 10 all day and with the 12, 31 and 7 having a tough day were in line for a good points day, until we got hit from behind -- not once, but twice -- and then put in the outside wall," said Kligerman, who in 2008 lived one block from IMS and was a frequent visitor to the famed track. "It was an honor to finally race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and really cool - even if it didn't last long -- to at one point hold the track record in qualifying. I'm proud of Eric Phillips (crew chief) and all the guys and we're ready to get back at it next week at Iowa."
After the green flag dropped, Kligerman quickly reported that his Camry was "tight center and off," as he dropped three spots by the time 10 laps had been completed. As the run continued, he fell back to the 13th spot before making his first stop of the day - for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment - under green-flag conditions on lap 30.When stops had cycled through, he remained in the 13th spot.
As the race progressed, the talented youngster reported that his No. 77 Toyota was "loose in traffic." He was scored in the 12th position when debris brought out the first caution of the day. Phillips summoned his driver to pit road, where the Kyle Busch Motorsports over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop, with another track bar adjustment, and returned their driver to the track scored in the 13th spot.
Several teams not electing to pit under caution were forced to pit road about 10 laps later, which allowed the No. 77 team to advance to the seventh spot when the second caution of the race occurred for fluid on the track on lap 66. As the teams that didn't pit under green prepared for their next stop, Kligerman communicated to Phillips that he needed more stability on entry. When pit road opened, KBM's Nationwide Series entry got right side tires and a full load of fuel for the final stages of the race.
Kligerman took the lap-70 restart from the 10th spot, but lost a couple positions on the restart and was scored in the 12th position when a debris caution occurred on lap 84. While a few teams elected to pit, Phillips kept his young driver on the track and the No. 77 Camry took the lap-88 restart from the ninth spot.
With the end of the race approaching, drivers became more aggressive and Kligerman became a victim on lap 89, when the No. 6 car gave him two shots to the rear bumper to get him loose and then as the No. 5 car made things three-wide, the No. 77 Camry was pinned against the outside wall. A debris caution ensued and with visible damage, Phillips summoned his driver to pit road.
After pulling out the fenders and replacing all four tires, Kligerman returned to the track in the 21st position for the final restart on lap 89. Within two laps he had advanced up to 16th, but surrendered two spots over the final three laps dropped back to the 18th spot as the field took the checkered flag.
KBM owner Kyle Busch led 92 of the 100 laps en route to his eighth victory of 2013 in his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Monster Energy Camry. It was his Nationwide Series-record 59th win and his 117th victory across NASCAR's top three divisions. Brian Scott finished 2.141 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up spot. Joey Logano finished third, Brian Vickers fourth and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five finishers.
There were four caution periods totaling 18 laps. Four drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead six times. Nine drivers failed to finish the 100-lap event.
Kligerman sits 10th in the Nationwide Series championship standings with 19 of 33 races complete, 67 points behind new series points leader Austin Dillon. The Kyle Busch owned No. 77 entry ranks 12th in the owner's championship standings, 176 points behind the series-leading No. 54 team.
Kligerman and his No. 77 Toyota Racing team head to Iowa Speedway in Newton for the US Cellular 250 on Aug. 3. Live television coverage of Saturday's 250-lap event begins with NASCAR Countdown at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Kyle Larson came to Indianapolis Motor Speedway with high expectations for his debut at the famed 2.5-mile track after finishing second earlier in the week at Eldora Speedway. The weekend started off strong for Larson and his No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports team, with the rookie leading first practice in his No. 32 Cessna Camaro. When it came time to race on Saturday afternoon, the team struggled to find the right handling on their Chevrolet. Following the race, they discovered that a broken screw had caused the track-bar mount to fail. Despite the issue, Larson still came home with an 11th-place finish.
Larson paced first practice in the No. 32 Cessna Chevy, laying down the quickest lap near the end of the 1.5-hour practice session. In final practice, the No. 32 Cessna team made adjustments to free the car up, but Larson felt that he lost too much speed, as he finished with the eighth-quickest time. Larson entered Saturday's qualifying session with high hopes but had to settle for the 17th-place starting spot. Despite not qualifying as well as he wanted to, the 20-year-old driver felt like his Cessna machine would be strong for the race.
Not long after the drop of the green flag, Larson radioed to his team that he was too tight when getting on the gas and that his tires were sliding. Larson continued to battle through the long green-flag run, explaining that his splitter was hitting the track and that he was really struggling into the corners. Crew Chief Trent Owens called the rookie in for a green-flag pit stop on lap 29, and the Cessna team changed four tires, added fuel and made adjustments to loosen up the No. 32. After green-flag stops cycled through, Larson was shown in the 19th position.
Larson moved into 18th on lap 41 but explained to his crew that the car was really tight and his tires were continuing to slide. Larson fell one lap down on lap 46 but received the free pass when the caution flag waved a few laps later for debris. After returning to the lead lap, Larson pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments, restarting in the 18th position on lap 56. He was forced back to the pits for an unscheduled green-flag stop just a few laps later when his temperatures skyrocketed. The team cleared off the grill, and Larson was able to get back on track and maintain his 18th-place position, despite losing a lap to the leader.
When the caution flag waved again on lap 64, Larson again received the free pass from NASCAR and was back on the lead lap. After pitting for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment, Larson restarted in 15th on lap 70. Larson maintained his position over the next 10 laps, but again radioed to explain that his car was extremely tight. Owens replied that he wasn't sure why the car wasn't responding to any of the large adjustments they had already made. The caution flag was displayed again on lap 83, and the No. 32 Cessna team gave Larson four tires, fuel and another round of adjustments.
Larson restarted in 19th on lap 89 but was able to take advantage of an incident on the track between competitors, gaining eight positions before the caution was displayed later that lap. He moved from 11th to ninth on the final restart on lap 95 but fell back to 11th before the checkered flag waved. After Larson took his No. 32 Cessna Chevy back to the garage, his Turner Scott Motorsports team found the problem with their track-bar mount, which explained why the car remained tight despite their numerous adjustments.
"I really wanted to do well in my first race at Indy," said Larson. "This place is so prestigious and it means a lot to Chip [Ganassi]; after coming here to watch the Indy 500 with him earlier this year, I couldn't wait for this race. Our car was really good in practice, and I was pumped to try and get my first Nationwide Series win here. Unfortunately, once the race started, we struggled all day and never could improve on our car. After the race was over, we discovered the problem with our track-bar mount, which explained why our car changed so much from practice. I'm bummed that we didn't get the finish we deserved, but I think it says a lot about this team that we were able to still finish 11th despite the problem. I can't say enough about how hard these guys work, and I know we'll go to Iowa next weekend and bounce back."
The NASCAR Nationwide Series returns to Iowa Speedway on Saturday, August 3, for another round of short-track night racing. The US Cellular 250 will begin at 8:00 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage beginning on ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. The race can also be heard live on MRN Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90.
It was a day of firsts for the RAB Racing No. 99 Nationwide Children's Hospital Toyota Camry and driver Alex Bowman at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Saturday marked the first time Bowman and crew chief Chris Rice took to the 2.5 mile Brickyard, and was the first time Nationwide Children's Hospital made an appearance on the No. 99. Unfortunately it was also the first time that the team had to utilize the back up car after contact with the wall in qualifying, RAB Racing chassis No. 39 made its first start of the 2013 season, starting 38th out of the 40 car field.
As the green flag flew on the Indiana 250, Bowman immediately started moving through the field, and on lap 10 was shown in the 29th position. Throughout the day crew chief Chris Rice and the RAB Racing pit crew gained several positions in the pits, passing multiple cars every time Bowman was called in for a pit stop. On lap 54 of 100, the No. 99 continued its methodical march to the front of the field, being shown in the 20th position. After avoiding multiple incidents in the closing laps, passing cars while being three and sometimes even four wide, Bowman found himself restarting in the 10th position with only six laps to go. With heavy traffic and the top groove, where Bowman restarted in, stalling out in he closing laps the No. 99 Nationwide Children's Hospital Toyota Camry finished in the 15th position.
Alex Bowman: "Coming to this famed track is pretty cool, growing up racing sprint cars and midgets, everybody wants to get to here, and it didn't really hit me until we were riding around there with six laps to go and I was like, 'Man, I'm running 10th at Indy and that's pretty cool.' It was a tough day for our guys, we had Nationwide Children's Hospital on the car and really appreciate them coming on board and sorry they didn't get the coverage in the race and sorry to my guys for crashing the primary car in qualifying, but for us to come out of here as decent as we did, I think it shows a lot about our race team and how we prepare all of our cars. This place is awkward in a stock car. It's big, flat and you can do your homework and study the car infront of you down the straightaway and then you're really busy for 20 seconds and then you do your homework all over again, but it was definitely a really cool place to come to."
The 15th place finish was the tenth top 15 finish out of the 2013 season. Bowman maintained the 11th place in driver point standings, and Robby Benton still occupies the 15th position in the owner point standings. The next race for RAB Racing and driver Alex Bowman will be the U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on Saturday August, 3rd and will be televised live on ESPN 2.
RAB Racing PR
Not even the rain could cool off Derek Thorn on this night. The Lakeport, Calif., native held off all challengers en route to winning the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Colorado National Speedway on Saturday night.
After a short rain delayed the start of the race, Thorn wasted no time in asserting himself on the track from the pole position. He dominated the action, leading 148 of 150 laps en route to his second consecutive victory, third win of the season and fifth career series win.
In his only other series visit to the CNS, Thorn finished second last year.
Jamie Krzysik made a late push to take a career-best runner-up spot, moving past third-place finisher Cameron Hayley in the closing stages of the race. Hayley, who challenged Thorn throughout the event, managed to wrestle the top spot away on two occasions - but could only hold the lead for a lap each time. Fifteen-year-old series rookie Giles Thornton had a career-best fourth-place finish, followed by Greg Pursley in fifth.
Michael Self came into the evening three points behind Thorn in the championship standings, and looked poised to challenge him early. A late spin-out knocked him out of the top three spots and he would eventually finish sixth, followed by Taylor Cuzick, Eric Holmes, Brett Thompson and Dylan Lupton to complete the top 10.
With the win, Thorn increased his lead in the championship standings to 13 points over Self.
The Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 will air on SPEED on Aug. 1 at 3 p.m. ET.
The next event on the series schedule is the Pork Be Inspired 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa on Friday, Aug. 2.
Landon Cassill brought the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller Flex Seal Chevrolet home 25th Saturday in the Indiana 250 Nationwide Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Cassill started the race at the back of the field but steadily progressed and moved into the 20s, where he raced most of the afternoon. He was the second car one lap down at the finish.
“We had a pretty good car but couldn’t get it exactly like we wanted it,” Cassill said. “It was a good run considering everything. We’ll work on it and be better the next time out.”
The race win went to Kyle Busch, who won the pole and led 92 of the race’s 100 laps. It was his eighth win in 15 Nationwide appearances this year.
The tour next moves to Iowa Speedway for an Aug. 3 race.
JD Motorsports PR
Mike Wallace rolled home 22nd Saturday in the Indiana 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one of the Nationwide Series tour’s biggest events.
Wallace, driving the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller Chevrolet, started 30th and ran in the 20s virtually the entire race, advancing to 19th at one point. It was a $27,803 payday for the veteran driver.
“We battled back from a vibration on the second set of tires,” Wallace said. “Then, later in the race, we got the front grille clogged with grass after another car ran off track on a restart. We had to pit. The water temp went crazy, and we would have burned up the engine if we did not stop. So our performance was better than the finish.”
Despite the issues, Wallace finished on the lead lap and stayed in 16th place in Nationwide driver points.
Kyle Busch won the race, driving from the pole and leading 92 of the 100 laps. It was his eighth win in 15 Nationwide races this season.
The tour next races at Iowa Speedway Aug. 3.
JD Motorsports PR
- Richard Childress Racing teammates finished second (Brian Scott), fifth (Kevin Harvick), sixth (Paul Menard) and 12th (Austin Dillon)
- Dillon lakes over the lead of the Nationwide Series driver championship point standings by six points over Regan Smith; while Scott is eighth in the standings 46 points behind the leader.
- The No. 3 Chevrolet team ranks third in the Nationwide Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 2 team 10th in the standings and the No. 33 team 13th.
- According to NASCAR's Post Race Loop Data Statistics, Scott was the second-Fastest Driver Late in a Run (168.692 mph), earned a Driver Rating of 110.4, ranking him third, and ranked fifth in Average Running Position (5.940).
- Harvick ranked fifth in Green Flag Speed (169.094 mph) and Speed in Traffic (167.877 mph)
- Menard ranked fourth in the Closers category, moving up three positions in the final 10 percent of the race.
- Dillon ranked third in Green Flag Passes with 53.
- RCR drivers Scott, Harvick and Menard spent 100 percent of the laps running in the top 15, while Dillon spent 97 percent of the laps in the top 15.
- RCR drivers Harvick, Dillon, and Menard ranked 1-2-3 in the Quality Passes Category with 31, 29 and 27 passes, respectively.
- Kyle Busch earned his eighth victory of the 2013 Nationwide Series season and was followed to the finish line by Scott, Joey Logano, Brian Vickers and Harvick.
- The next Nationwide Series race is the US Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, August 3. The 20th race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on ESPN2 beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Satellite Radio Channel 90.
Brian Scott Earns Career-Best NASCAR Nationwide Series Finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Brian Scott and Richard Childress Racing's No. 2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet team took the checkered flag in the runner-up spot Saturday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, securing their best finish of the 2013 season and Scott's career-best finish in his 128th NASCAR Nationwide Series start. After starting the 250-mile event from the 11th spot, a lengthy green-flag run allowed Scott to climb to sixth before making his first pit stop of the day on lap 29. Just 21 laps later, the first caution flag was displayed and crew chief Phil Gould played pit strategy and called for Scott to stay out on the track. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 56 with Scott in the third position. Gould called Scott to pit road on lap 65 for four tires, fuel and adjustments. With 10 laps remaining, the caution flag again flew and Scott lined up fourth for a shootout to the finish. As the field dove into turn one, the leaders bunched together allowing the No. 2 to take the lead. Scott maintained the point position for three laps holding off a hard charging No. 54, but with three laps remaining Scott slipped to second. The Idaho native kept the reminder of the field at bay for the closing laps to finish second, scoring his career-best NASCAR Nationwide Series finish.
Start - 11 Finish - 2 Laps Led - 3 Points - 8th
BRIAN SCOTT QUOTE:
"We were so close to kissing the bricks at Indy. Phil (Gould Crew Chief) and the guys brought a great car and called a smart race. I was hoping the No. 54 and No. 22 would battle each other allowing us to pull away. This will give us momentum heading into Iowa Speedway next weekend, where we can hopefully finish one spot better."
Austin Dillon Assumes NASCAR Nationwide Series Points Lead with 12th-Place Finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Austin Dillon left the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader after posting a 12th-place finish at the "Yard of Bricks" in Richard Childress Racing's No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet on Saturday afternoon. The Welcome, N.C. driver started the 100-lap event from the seventh spot and immediately noted handling issues to the Danny Stockman-led team, citing a tight condition exiting the corners and a lack of side force around the 2.5-mile track. Dillon was scored in the 13th position when the caution flag was displayed to the 40-car field as the race reached the halfway point, providing an opportunity for the RCR team to pit for four tires, fuel and adjustments. Dillon restarted 13th on lap 55 and was scored in the 10th spot when the caution flag was displayed on lap 83 as he continued to battle a tight-handling condition. With nothing to lose, Stockman guided his driver down pit road for another round of adjustments and outfitted the No. 3 Chevrolet with four Goodyear tires for the final 12 laps of the race. Dillon restarted in the 12th position, fell as far back as 16th in the final laps as the field was shuffled during late-race restarts and drove forward to post a 12th-place finish.
Harvick and the No. 21 Hunt Brothers Pizza Team Finish Fifth at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Kevin Harvick and the No. 21 Hunt Brothers Pizza team earned a fifth-place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The two-time series champion started the 100-lap race from the 15th position and worked his way into the top 10 by lap eight while fighting a loose-handling Chevrolet. Harvick visited pit road on lap 30 for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments and settled into the sixth spot as green-flag pit stops cycled through the field. As the race progressed, the green and white machine transitioned from a loose to tight-handling condition as the California native continued to work his way toward the front of the field, moving into third on lap 89. Harvick lined up third for the final restart on lap 95, but was shuffled back to fifth where he ultimately crossed the finish line.
Start - 15 Finish - 5 Laps Led - 0 Points - N/A
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE:
"This was a solid run by the Hunt Brother Pizza team today. I kind of put us in a hole at the beginning with qualifying, and we never really go into the right position to move out front until the final restart. We never had a chance to play offense today and had to play defense just to finish fifth."
Menard Brings Home Top-10 Finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
In his third NASCAR Nationwide Series start of the season, Paul Menard maintained a top-10 running position for the majority of the 250-mile race finishing sixth at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday. Qualifying 10th earlier in the day, Menard slipped back several positions during the early laps as he battled with a tight-handling car on entry and a loose condition through the center and exit. Although his No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet wasn't quite handling to his liking, Menard was able to work his way back inside the top 10 at lap 22. Crew chief Ernie Cope called for several chassis adjustments on the two ensuing pit stops to remedy the car's handling condition. The adjustments provided relief to the Eau Claire, Wis., native and on lap 58, Menard relayed to the crew that the car was the best it had been all day. Running in eighth when the caution flag flew on lap 85, Menard brought the No. 27 machine onto pit road for fuel and tires, giving him four fresh Goodyear's for the remaining 12 laps of the 100-lap event. Restarting in 10th, Menard never gave up and gained four positions in the final circuits to finish sixth at the historic 2.5-mile speedway.
Start - 10 Finish - 6 Laps Led - 0 Owners Points - 13th
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
"I love racing at Indy (Indianapolis Motor Speedway). It's one of my favorite race tracks on the circuit. We had a pretty fast Rheem/Menards Chevrolet Camaro, but just ran out of laps at the end preventing us from gaining more positions. Ernie (Cope, crew chief) and the guys did a great job today and I had a lot of fun. Things got a little hairy there at the end on the restart, but we managed to gain some spots. I've still got another race with the No. 33 team in Kansas later in the year and hopefully we can improve on this weekend's sixth-place finish and contend for a win."
Kyle Busch and the No. 54 Monster Energy team not only won Saturday’s Indiana 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway, but dominated it, leading 92 circuits of the 100-lap event. The Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) No. 54 team extended their successful season by recording their eighth victory and 13th top-10 finish in 19 events run to date, in 2013. The 28-year-old Busch earned Toyota Racing their first victory at the legendary 2.5-mile speedway with today’s win.
Already the winningest series driver, Busch recorded his 59th victory in 259 starts and his first-career win at the Indiana track. Just as significant, for the fifth time this year, Busch accomplished the team’s win from the pole-starting position, the 31st pole of his Nationwide Series career. Achieving the first-place starting spot was accomplished when Busch broke the 100-year-old track’s qualifying record, setting the pace at 179.644mph for a 50.99-second lap. The feat broke a tie with NASCAR veteran Sam Ard from 1983, placing Busch at the top of the record books for the most pole-to-victory wins in a race season. With a race-high 92 laps led Saturday, Busch achieved his 12,177th career lap led in the series with 1,206 of those laps driven in the top spot this season alone.
Busch led the field to the green flag upon start and quickly pulled ahead of his competitors, at one point advancing two seconds, or 10 car lengths, ahead of the field. At lap 8 of the scheduled 100-lap event, the Monster Energy driver relayed to his crew, “The car is good. There’s something freaking me out right now in turn two, though, I feel a real push, something I haven’t felt before.” Spotter Tony Hirschman confirmed back to the Monster Energy driver there was a strong crosswind blowing that direction and that must be what he was feeling with the car. There was no indication the Camry had any issues, confirmed on lap 11 when Busch keyed the radio, “The car is really good. It’s tight a little in the wind but don’t worry about that.”
At lap 22 crew chief Adam Stevens strategized with Busch over the radio, “Save gas. We are pushing the pit window.” On lap 30 under the green flag, the team visited pit road for the first time of the race to refresh four Goodyear tires and Sunoco fuel, without needing to make any car adjustments. The team maintained first place and Stevens reported back to their driver after making calculations, “That was better gas mileage than we thought.”
An event caution period waved on lap 49 but the leading JGR team chose not to visit pit road, instead choosing to remain on track until the next fuel window was reached. The team then pitted on lap 65 and packed the fuel cell with as much Sunoco fuel as the Toyota Camry would handle. Luckily the No. 54 team would return to the racetrack before an event caution waved on the next lap, 66, which allowed the black and green machine to maintain first-place on the track. With fuel no longer a concern, Stevens relayed to Busch, “We are good to the end, and have a few more left in case of green-white-checkered finishes.”
Two more caution periods occurred within the last 20 laps of the event, which changed the picture slightly. On the last green-flag restart at lap 95, Busch was challenged by the No. 2 car of Brian Scott who took over the first-place spot and started to pull away with the race-ending lead. Two more challengers approached the No. 54 Camry, the No. 22 of Joey Logano and the No. 21 of Kevin Harvick and suddenly the Monster Energy machine and Busch had their work cut out for them, for the first time in the race. While the No. 54 team spotter Hirschman reminded Busch to be patient and ‘get into a rhythm,’ Busch began working to regain the lead.
In three laps Busch drove away from the charging third and fourth-place competitors and reeled in the first-place No. 2 car, overtaking the lead on lap 98. Back in the position he felt comfortable with all day, Busch kicked the Monster Energy Camry into high-gear and finished the race, capturing the checkered flag as he crossed the famous red bricks in first.
Upon celebration from the famed Brickyard victory lane activities, including a ‘kiss’ on the bricks with his wife Samantha and team by his side, Busch described his Brickyard day to the media, “It’s Indianapolis – it’s pretty awesome to be able to win here. Whether you’re driving Nationwide or Cup, sports cars, Formula 1, Moto GP, anything – it’s cool to win at this place just with all the history and all the automobiles that have raced on this surface before. All the fans that have been here over the years – it’s pretty awesome and it’s pretty special. It’s really awesome for Monster Energy. I should have been here last year, but I messed up and then I almost messed up again and gave it away. I was able to preserve there and get back. I can’t say enough about this Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing engines, Nationwide Insurance. It’s just an awesome day, an unbelievable day. It’s such a great race car built by these guys, Adam Stevens (crew chief) and everybody here on this JGR team.”
When asked about breaking NASCAR veteran Sam Ard’s record for most wins from the pole in a single season, Busch described, “That’s awesome. We also set the record for the most poles in the series. Whatever records are left let me know and I’m going to try to put my name on them.”
Adam Stevens, crew chief of the successful Monster Energy team explained when asked post-race, “I don’t know if I would go so far as to say we had the strongest car throughout the weekend. We did have a good test here recently, that was cut short by weather, but we got what we needed out of it. We made the changes that we needed to in order to get our car where it needed to be at the test. Honestly, a big factor in this weekend – we kind of hit the lottery here with the weather conditions. It was almost identical to the test. It’s very unusual for Indiana this time of the year, as you well know. That helped our cause. We didn’t have to chase the car much.”
Stevens continued, “The weekend played out fine and practice went pretty well. We were back and forth on a few things and I think Kyle, myself and the guys really put our heads together and put some good race adjustments in it and that showed today. I was a little bit surprised by the qualifying speed, but in a pleasant way. We didn’t have a chance to make a mock run. The race there, you knew how it was going to play out strategy-wise, you just didn’t know when the cautions were going to fall. We chose to stay out there short of our window when a bunch of guys came and got four tires and fuel. We knew that they did it so they could take two tires when we all got in our last pit window. Obviously, if we had needed the track position at that time then we would have done the same thing. I wanted to make sure he had four fresh tires at eth end of it so he could run hard when the caution came out. If we had to pit under that caution – if we would have gone another lap, then we would have been behind all those guys that took two on that stop. If it would have gone green, we still would have been in good shape, but we got a little good fortune there with the weather for sure and with that caution falling after we came down pit road.”
The No. 54 Monster Energy team owned by J.D. Gibbs maintains first place in the Owner’s Point standings, now leading the No. 22 of Penske Racing by 41 points. Saturday’s performance earned the JGR contingency NASCAR’s 3M Lap Leader Award, Coors Light Pole Award and the Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race Award (JGR Engines).
JGR teammate Brian Vickers finished fourth and earned the series’ ‘Dash 4 Cash’ bonus payout. Other JGR teammates Matt Kenseth and Elliott Sadler finished seventh and 13th respectively. Scott, Logano, Vickers and Harvick filled out the top-five finishing positions. There were four caution periods for 18 laps of the race along with six lead changes across four drivers.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series competes again on August 3 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, in the U.S. Cellular 250 presented by the Enlist Weed Control System, with television broadcast starting at
7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Drew Herring will make his second start behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Monster Energy Camry.