Indianapolis Motor Speedway is not known for last lap passes, but when a checkered flag is within reach, Kyle Busch has shown he can do amazing things. On Saturday in the Lilly Diabetes 250 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the all-time NXS race winner did just that.
After qualifying on the pole, Busch dominated much of the 100 lap race, but on the final restart with 25 laps to go, Penske Racing’s Ryan Blaney passed the veteran driver. On the last lap, Blaney bobbled off turn 2 and Busch made the move to the inside of the track, making the pass for the lead and the win. “I just got close enough to make him mess up and made him get tight off of two and I was able to capitalize underneath him with him losing his momentum,” said an exhausted Busch in the victory lane.
Following the race, Blaney said, “I messed up [turn] 2 and he got a run on us. It was my fault… the driver gave it away.”
This race continues Busch’s dominance at the Brickyard in the NXS. In four races at the famed 2.5-mile track, Busch has three poles and two victories, with the first coming in 2013 in similar fashion. Busch will go for his first Sprint Cup victory at the Brickyard in Sunday’s running of the Brickyard 400.
After qualifying second, Daniel Suarez finished third, making it his third consecutive top-five finish. Paul Menard led nine laps and finished fourth, followed by Elliott Sadler in fifth. Kevin Harvick had an unusually bad day, but was able to salvage a sixth-place finish with his No. 88 JR Motorsports team. Harvick’s teammate Regan Smith was the highest of the four drivers eligible for the Dash 4 Cash, finishing eighth, and received the $100,000 bonus. Kyle Larson was seventh, last year’s Indianapolis winner Ty Dillon finished ninth and Chase Elliott finished 10th. Suarez, Sadler, Smith and Dillon will compete for the next Dash 4 Cash at Bristol in August.
Brian Scott ended the 250-mile race in the 11th position, followed by a solid 12th-place finish for Ryan Sieg. Dash 4 Cash driver Brendan Gaughan finished 13th, followed by Aric Almirola and Jeremy Clements.
The race on Saturday was the first race for the Xfinity Series cars with the high-drag package similar to what the NSCS will be running on Sunday. Several drivers stated throughout the weekend that the package increase the effect of the draft down the straightaways, but it was difficult to capitalize and make the pass. Following the race, several drivers were displeased with the racing the new package produced. This is currently the only race scheduled to run this new aerodynamic package.
Many drivers were physically exhausted after dealing with hot temperatures. The rear extensions added to the cars to increase drag allowed less heat to escape the cockpits. Busch, Dillon and Sadler were among the many drivers that were affected by the heat. “This is the hottest I’ve been a racecar in a long time” Sadler said on his way to the infield medical center. This could prove to be a challenge in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race which is 60 laps longer. Tweeted Brad Keselowski:
Expecting tomorrow to be the hottest race I've ever drove in. 140+
— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) July 25, 2015
Driver and teams will look to do whatever they can to prepare for a more than likely very grueling race on Sunday.
NXS drivers also had very few breaks, with the race only being slowed three times due to cautions. The most notable caution was the first one when Blake Koch and David Starr collided in turn 1. Erik Jones crashed with less than 30 laps to go to bring out the race’s final caution.
Series points leader Chris Buescher had a less than satisfactory race, finishing 16th. He now has a 25-point lead over defending series champion Chase Elliott, and 30 points over Dillon heading into the U.S Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway next Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.