INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kyle Busch spent Saturday climbing in and out of brutally hot cars in Indianapolis.
All that work finally got him back to a pretty cool spot in victory lane — and some ice cold water.
After claiming two poles Saturday afternoon, Busch returned to the track and led all but one lap to win his second straight NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at the track by 0.415 seconds over hard-charging Kevin Harvick. Paul Menard was third, 1.338 seconds off the pace.
“I’d like to hope so,” the 2015 Cup season champion said after being asked if he can keep this up after earning his seventh Xfinity win this season and record-extending 83rd of his career. “I don’t know exactly how many (races) I have left, that’s changing every day. But, hopefully, with whatever we have left, we can have the same amount of success we’ve had here.”
Busch has been virtually unbeatable on Indy’s 2.5-mile oval all weekend.
He posted the fastest practice times in both the Xfinity and Sprint Cup Series on Friday, won the poles, captured the first of two heat races to establish the rest of the starting order and put himself in position second straight sweep of the two races in Indy.
No NASCAR driver has ever won both poles and both races here.
The only prize Busch didn’t get his claim Saturday was the $100,000 dash-for-cash prize, which he was ineligible for. That payout went to fifth-place finisher Justin Allgaier — who was the best of the non-Cup regulars. Allgaier said the thermometer in his car reached 137 degrees.
How dominant has Busch been?
The Joe Gibbs Racing star held off two former Brickyard 400 winners and one, Harvick, couldn’t even catch the leader after taking new tires during the final caution period, which extended the race to 63 laps.
The difference: Busch’s perfectly-timed restarts.
“New tires for those guys were good for them, not so much for us,” Busch said after completing the final 36 laps without a stop. “On the restarts, the second-to-last one was really good. The last one was OK.”
It was at least good enough.
Busch only surrendered the lead once — when he pitted after 27 laps — and retook the lead when Brendan Gaughan made his pit stop.
The only other time Busch’s lead was even in jeopardy came after rookie Roy Black Jr. hit the wall in the second turn, slid down the track and was hit by Harrison Rhodes, bringing out a caution six laps to go.
Harvick, who drives for Stewart-Haas Racing, and Kyle Larson, who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing, both stopped and changed tires. But they wound up battling one another so hard, they couldn’t catch Busch.
“Our goal was to overachieve today, and we did that,” Harvick said. “We had a couple of good restarts and wound up second. Not a bad day.”
Even if Busch’s day was much more rewarding.
“I think our chances are pretty good,” Busch said, referring to the Brickyard 400. “Starting up front means a lot here in Indy. I think our Toyota today was strong, I think our Toyota tomorrow will be even stronger.”
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