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BUSCH CELEBRATES FOURTH WIN AT THE BRICKYARD 400 AS JOE GIBBS RACING CONTINUES TO TREND UPWARDS
Kyle Busch continues his fight to make into the Chase after his third consecutive win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway leaving him with four total wins since his comeback this season.
It’s called the Kyle Busch Chase Watch. About a month ago, we were beginning to think if it was even worth continuing to track Busch’s efforts to finish at least 30th in the regular-season standing in order to even qualify for the Chase.
"I've won my Southern 500, I've won my hometown race, which is a big race for me, the Las Vegas race, I've also won the Bristol night race, I've swept Bristol [in three national series]," Busch said. "So there's a lot of great things that have happened for me in my career.
Now, Busch has celebrated the biggest victory of his Sprint Cup career at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Busch knows how these races at Indianapolis are won. They're won on restarts and having a solid car. That's what Busch did and he got the job done, winning for the fourth time in the last five Cup races.
Busch couldn't really take a whole lot of credit for his race-winning pass 11 laps before the finish, but that didn't matter as he became the first driver since 2007 to win three consecutive Cup races. His wins in past years in the Southern 500 and Bristol night race most likely took more pure racing brawn, but Busch is a driver who thinks about prestige and history, and that's what winning at Indy is all about.
Busch's win snapped Chevrolet's 12-race Indianapolis win streak and gave Toyota its first Brickyard victory. The win also continued to pace Joe Gibbs Racing on its upwards climb.
"I can't believe what's going on," Busch said in Victory Lane. "It's really a treat to win here at Indy. Toyota has now captured a win at every single active Cup Series racetrack -- that's pretty awesome for us to be able to do that.”
It doesn’t seem to matter the type of aero package NASCAR has used in recent weeks, Toyota, and Busch, have figured it out.
Busch won earlier this month at Kentucky Speedway with a low-downforce package that NASCAR debuted there then turned around and won at Indy with a high-drag package.
Busch led 163 of 267 laps in his win at Kentucky (Toyota cars led 177 laps in that race.) At Indy, Toyota teams led 44 of 164 laps with Busch leading 19 circuits.
And it’s just not Busch who is fueling the resurgence of the Joe Gibbs Racing team, which has now registered seven Sprint Cup victories this season after winning only twice last year. Denny Hamlin posted the fastest lap in Friday’s practice, JGR teammate Carl Edwards won the pole Saturday and Busch won the race Sunday after capturing the XFINITY race the day before.
At Kentucky, Joe Gibbs Racing placed its four cars place in the top five. At Indy, JGR had its four cars place in the top 13.
Team owner Joe Gibbs looks at it a different way: While Busch has been a big part of his organization’s resurgence; it’s more than just the younger Busch brother.
"You can be on the top in pro sports, and a few little things turn, you can go right to being mediocre or in the back of the pack,” Gibbs said after the win at Indianapolis. "It takes a lot of hard work to get back, and that's what I'm so proud of our team.
"It took us a full year and a half, but we bounced back. In pro sports you see that, and really what you have to say about pro sports, the hardest thing is what? To stay up there."
At its current pace, JGR is on track to equaling or bettering its 2013 pace, when Toyota overall won 14 races. Of these races, 12 came from JGR drivers: Kenseth with a series-high seven wins, Busch with four and Hamlin with one.
As we look ahead to the final 16 races, Busch appears almost unstoppable to make the Chase. And if he does make NASCAR’s 10-race marquee series, he has one of the best chances to win it all for the first time in his career.
But don’t count out the rest of the JGR camp. Kenseth has one championship under his belt, while Hamlin and Edwards have combined for a number of race wins, yet neither has won a Cup championship.
Whatever JGR has done to get where it’s at today, the main thing is to keep it going all the way through the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
And maybe then, Joe Gibbs will let race fans in on the secret of how his team has rebounded—if there is a secret to be told in the first place.