Three different drivers led Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard — Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.
But, if we’re being totally honest with ourselves, Busch was the only driver with a realistic chance of winning that race. His performance was so dominating that many NASCAR fans claimed that the No. 18 team had to have cheated.
On two late-race restarts that extended the race from its scheduled 160 laps to 170, Busch got excellent jumps that separated him from the rest of the field. He ended up beating teammate Matt Kenseth to the finish line by 2.126 seconds.
Busch led 149 of the laps, while Team Penske teammates Keselowski and Logano led 15 and six, respectively.
It wasn’t like Busch’s domination didn’t come out of nowhere. The Las Vegas native started on the pole in Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race after starting the event from the pole. He did the same thing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, also starting on the pole after laying down a qualifying lap of 184.634 mph.
Busch became the first driver in NASCAR history to complete the weekend sweep of both Coors Light Poles and race wins in NASCAR’s top two series.
Jeff Gordon, who came out of retirement, filled in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 AXALTA Chevrolet SS. After running in the teens and 20s for the majority of the day, the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion wound up 13th. He’ll also behind the steering wheel of the car for next week’s race at Pocono.
After running in the top 10 for a majority of the race, Tony Stewart finished 11th in his last trip to his home state track.
On the strength of their second- and third-place finishes at Indy, Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, respectively, officially clinched spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Rounding out the top 10 were Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and Paul Menard.
After reclaiming the top spot in Lionel Racing’s Power 10, did Harvick lose it again? If so, to who? Did the strong finishes for Busch, Kenseth and Johnson move all three of them up in the rankings since last week? How did Carl Edwards’ disappointing 35th-place finish affect his standing?
Found out the answer to all these questions and many more in this week’s edition of Lionel Racing’s Power 10.
(Note: Only the 10 drivers receiving the highest average rankings are shown. The number of spots they’ve moved since the previous Power 10 are shown in the parentheses.)
1. Kyle Busch (+1): With 166 wins among NASCAR’s three national touring series, it’s only a matter of time before Kyle reaches and surpasses Richard Petty’s 200 wins (although his all came in the premier series).
2. Kevin Harvick (-1): It’s a testament to how consistent Kevin’s been this year when he only has one win this season, yet he has more points than every other driver, even those with multiple wins.
3. Brad Keselowski (+1): Finishing 17th might not have been what Brad wanted to do at Indy, but at least he led multiple laps — something 37 other drivers were unable to do.
4t. Kurt Busch (-1): Kurt has only finished in the top five once since he won six races ago at Pocono; another strong finish at the Tricky Triangle could go a long way in helping his standing.
4t. Martin Truex Jr. (–): Sunday’s race was the first time in four races in which Martin didn’t lead a lap. He shouldn’t worry to much about it, not many people led a lap at the Brickyard.
6t. Matt Kenseth (–): Over the past three races, Matt has three top-10 finishes, including Indy’s runner-up performance and a win the week before. More of these types of runs and he’ll climb the Power 10.
6t. Joey Logano (+1): I’m honestly a little surprised Joey isn’t higher than sixth. He has seven top 10s in the past eight races; however, it might be the 39th in the one non-top-10 race that is keeping him from being higher.
8. Jimmie Johnson (+2): Jimmie needed a strong finish and he got one by finishing third at Indy. He now needs to get a win, which would help after a streak of six out-of-the-top-10 finishes.
9. Carl Edwards (-2): After wrecking on Lap 155, which brought out the red flag, and finishing 35th, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Carl fall two spots. At least already he has two wins and a spot in the Chase.
10. Kyle Larson (NR): Kyle’s fifth-place finish was his sixth top 10 of 2016. He’ll need more finishes like this, and perhaps a win, to stick in the Power 10.