NASCAR Barometer: Busch Wins Second Brickyard in a Row

NASCAR Barometer: Busch Wins Second Brickyard in a Row

This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.

Kyle Busch dominated the weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, taking pole position and the win in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity series races. Similar finishes to both of the races saw Busch hold onto the lead in the final laps through multiple restarts. It was an absolutely dominant weekend, during which he consistently topped the time charts and walked away from Indianapolis Motor Speedway with all of the trophies available. The win affirms a build up in momentum as the Chase for the Sprint Cup approaches. Every driver is battling to gain the most confidence before the playoffs begin, and Busch is the one who has the firmest grip at the moment.

UPGRADE

Kyle Busch – Busch set the tone early for Sunday's race by stretching out a dominating lead over the field in the early laps. The rest of the afternoon was more of the same from Busch as he made the Brickyard 400 an unexciting affair at the front by spending the vast majority of the race running away from the other drivers. No car challenged him, and the win seemed to be his from the outset. He has never won at Pocono, and has just one top-10 finish at the track in the last five races, with a 31st-place finish earlier this year. He'll need his momentum to carry him forward this week to overcome his recent results there.

Martin Truex Jr. – Truex worked all afternoon to gain track position at the front of

Kyle Busch dominated the weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, taking pole position and the win in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity series races. Similar finishes to both of the races saw Busch hold onto the lead in the final laps through multiple restarts. It was an absolutely dominant weekend, during which he consistently topped the time charts and walked away from Indianapolis Motor Speedway with all of the trophies available. The win affirms a build up in momentum as the Chase for the Sprint Cup approaches. Every driver is battling to gain the most confidence before the playoffs begin, and Busch is the one who has the firmest grip at the moment.

UPGRADE

Kyle Busch – Busch set the tone early for Sunday's race by stretching out a dominating lead over the field in the early laps. The rest of the afternoon was more of the same from Busch as he made the Brickyard 400 an unexciting affair at the front by spending the vast majority of the race running away from the other drivers. No car challenged him, and the win seemed to be his from the outset. He has never won at Pocono, and has just one top-10 finish at the track in the last five races, with a 31st-place finish earlier this year. He'll need his momentum to carry him forward this week to overcome his recent results there.

Martin Truex Jr. – Truex worked all afternoon to gain track position at the front of the field where he felt his car worked best. The opportunity came late in the race when Truex took advantage of a restart to make passes and finish second behind Busch. Truex worked to reel in Busch from there on, but the No. 18 car was just too fast. It was important that Truex had a good outing last weekend after a broken gear lever hampered his finish in New Hampshire. The team bounced back admirably, and that should give him momentum in the final races before the Chase. After winning the spring Pocono race last year, Truex has back-to-back 19th-place finishes at the track.

Kevin Harvick – An extra early pit stop due to a suspected flat tire dropped Harvick well behind early in Sunday's race. Pit troubles have been a problem for the No. 4 team lately, and the extra stop on Sunday certainly added to the pain. Luckily, he was able to overcome the issues on Sunday to be inside the top five for the last 70 miles of the race and he made another late pit stop to try for a fresh tire advantage in the final laps. Harvick remains winless at Pocono, but led nine laps and finished ninth in his last visit to the track earlier this season.

Tony Stewart – Stewart's recent uptick in results was clearly no fluke. His speed early in Sunday's Brickyard 400 was extremely competitive and shows that the veteran in his final season of competition could be a threat to retire with another championship. His misstep came from a speeding penalty on pit road, which was a tough penalty to overcome. Still, Stewart's tendency is to finish seasons stronger than how he starts them, which is exactly what we're currently witnessing. In 32 starts the former champion has two Pocono wins and also managed to pick up a top-10 in the fall race last season. This year's spring race wasn't a good one, however. He finished 34th, but that finish didn't reflect the speed of his sixth-place start.

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth may pick up a new nickname for the past few races where he has consistently worked on his car throughout each race to be in contention for victory in the final stages. This method of race craft is how he won in New Hampshire despite not being one of the fastest cars throughout the afternoon and how he worked his way into contention to win at Indianapolis. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is learning valuable information that will serve him well once the Chase gets underway. He's also a former Pocono winner and has three straight top-10 finishes at the track and led 31 laps there earlier this season when he finished seventh.

DOWNGRADE

Carl Edwards – Though he didn't seem to have the edge on teammate Busch, Edwards was certainly one of the cars to beat Sunday in Indianapolis until he crashed on a restart with less than 10 laps remaining. Edwards was Busch's shadow throughout the afternoon, but wasn't able to close the gap and challenge for the lead. Instead, he settled for what could be a confidence-building weekend, given the pace he was able to show to the rest of the field. Efforts to overcome Sunday's poor finish and build momentum now could pay dividends if the team is able to hit its stride just as the Chase gets underway. Edwards has won twice at Pocono, but his latest victory there was in 2008. He has two top-10s in the last two races there, however.

Greg Biffle – Biffle brought out the second caution period in Sunday's Brickyard 400 when he clouted the outside wall to effectively end his afternoon. His accident also put an end to his run of three consecutive top-10 finishes, which represented a tremendous turn in results for the better unseen by the team in the last two seasons. The team had been battling a tight machine, and the adjustments they made in that final stop failed to improve the situation. Biffle last won at Pocono in 2010 but was able to finish fifth at the track in the fall race last season. He had a disappointing 26th-place finish there earlier this season but will be anxious to make a return to the positive direction he had prior to last week's race.

Ryan Blaney – Blaney was again the unlucky bystander in Indianapolis when he was left with nowhere to go as cars crashed ahead of him with fewer than 10 laps remaining. He sits just outside of the Chase standings in points, and afternoons with DNFs will do nothing to make claiming one of those spots any easier. The good news for the young driver is that his last top-10 finish came the last time the series visited Pocono. His top-10 drought is now six races long, and Blaney will hope to end it this week. He started 14th in that race, which was also his first visit to the track in the Sprint Cup series.

A.J. Allmendinger – Allmendinger's run of bad results extended itself one race further in Indianapolis. The car lost water pressure and failed before the halfway mark, thus he extended his run of finishes outside the top 20 to four. One of his two top-10 finishes at Pocono Raceway came in this race last season when he claimed seventh. That was his best result at the Pennsylvania triangle. He led two laps there earlier this season when he finished 16th. He has been getting more consistent at the 2.5-mile oval and would normally be considered a respectable addition to most fantasy rosters, but fantasy players have to question the team's ability to break free from its current run of bad luck.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Penske Racing – In terms of speed, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski struggled at Indianapolis throughout the weekend. The teammates were confident they didn't have the outright pace to challenge Joe Gibbs Racing, and so immediately attempted an unconventional strategy to help them gain track position to get a shot at the win. Both drivers stretched their fuel loads as far as possible on Sunday hoping to visit pit road at least one less time than the rest of the competition. The gamble worked, Logano was able to lead laps, and both drivers were inside the top 10 in the final miles of a race, where Ford has not had much success for many years. This team consistently finds ways to overcome, which will be important in the Chase.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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