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Kyle Busch dominates to take Combat Wounded Coalition 400

By Amanda Vincent, The Sports Xchange
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Kyle Busch dominates to take Combat Wounded Coalition 400
Kyle Busch and his wife Samantha kiss the bricks while his son Brexton takes care of the trophy after winning the 23rd Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 24, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Ed Locke/UPI | License Photo

SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Kyle Busch dominated the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard, more commonly known as the Brickyard 400, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday on his way to his second-straight Brickyard win.

"This Skittles Camry was awesome," Busch said. "I can't thank everyone from Skittles enough and everyone from M&Ms and their 75th anniversary year this season with us. "Of course, Interstate Batteries. This Toyota was awesome today; it was just so fast and able to get out front and stay out front. Not even some of my teammates could challenge. This was hooked up and on rails."

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To claim his fourth win of the season, Busch had to hold off the competition on four restarts inside the final 10 laps. A sixth caution for a six-car wreck resulted in a red flag and what was expected to be a two-lap sprint to the finish. Of the cars involved, those sustaining the most damage were Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman. The checkered flag didn't come two laps later, though, as an incident between Trevor Bayne and Clint Bowyer less than a lap after the restart, again, brought out the yellow flag for the seventh time in the race.

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"I felt like I just got tight down there," Edwards said. "I had a little trouble, there, on the starts and I got down there. We were fighting really hard for the bottom, and it felt like I got tight with whoever was on the outside of me. If, indeed, that is what happened, I apologize. That's pretty frustrating."

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When the race restarted from the seventh caution, the race field didn't get to turn one before an incident involving Jamie McMurray, Newman and Brian Scott brought the yellow flag right back out for an eighth caution and another restart.

Matt Kenseth finished second to give Joe Gibbs Racing a one-two finish. Jimmie Johnson was third to give the four-car team of Hendrick Motorsports its first top-10 finish in four races. A third JGR driver, Denny Hamlin, finished fourth to give the Gibbs organization three cars inside the top-five of the finishing order. Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five.

Joey Logano got from third to second between the sixth and seventh cautions and was on the front row next to Busch on the final restart, but he dropped back to seventh by the checkered flag.

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"It was just not good," Logano said of his final restart. "I had a decent restart the first time, and the second one I probably had just as good of a restart, but the 20 (Kenseth) got underneath me, and I was kind of stuck from that point and kind of fell into the clutches of the tires behind me. I was trying to stay down and be where I needed to be to get in front of them, but they just kept turning underneath me. I hate that we finished seventh, but it's probably where we deserved to finish from a speed point of view."

Busch was never passed on the track throughout the race. Early in the race, Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Logano began a strategy of making one less stop. Both led laps, but it was a strategy both driver aborted by the halfway point of the race.

After Busch started on the pole and led early, he pitted under green on lap 27, handing the lead over to Keselowski. Still planning to make one less stop, Keselowski and Logano stayed out until lap 42 before hitting pit road for the first time.

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When Keselowski and Logano finally pitted, Busch returned to the lead. Logano stayed out when the yellow flag waved for a Greg Biffle incident on lap 53, assuming the race lead. Keselowski got off pit road first by taking only two tires. When the race restarted, Keselowski slipped back several positions, and Logano eventually lost the lead to Busch on lap 62. After losing the lead, Logano lost additional positions.

Keselowski and Logano were the only two drivers other than Busch to lead laps, with Keselowski running up front for 15 laps and Logano six.

"It was a long, hard day," Keselowski said. "We just weren't quite as fast as the Gibbs cars, but we were competitive. I had a shot at it at the end when we came in a put tires on, but got caught up when the 19 (Edwards spun out). I thought we actually had a shot at winning it and kind of stealing one on tires, but when that wreck happened, it took away any shot we had."

Through most of the race, Busch was accompanied up front by two of his three Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Edwards and Kenseth, along with Martin Truex Jr., whose Furniture Row Racing team has a technical affiliation with Joe Gibbs Racing. The remaining Gibbs driver, Hamlin, was a mainstay near the front throughout the first half of the race before a pit-road speeding penalty during a cycle of green-flag stops just past the halfway point of the race. He returned to top-five territory in the closing laps.

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NOTES: Kyle Busch swept the 2015 NASCAR weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by winning both the NASCAR Xfinity and Sprint Cup series races. He swept this season's NASCAR qualifying at Indy, claiming the pole for both series' races on Saturday and dominated the Xfinity Series race later in the day, leading all but one lap en route to the win. ... Jeff Gordon, filling in for the sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, is the only driver to start all Brickyard 400 races since the first NASCAR race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1994. He also is the winningest NASCAR driver at IMS with five Brickyard 400 wins. ... The 2016 Brickyard 400 is expected to be the final Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis for Columbus native, Tony Stewart. Stewart is a two-time winner at his home track. ... Patrick Carpentier made his second Sprint Cup Series start of the season, driving the No. 32 Ford for Go FAS Racing. He also raced last month at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, finishing 37th. The Sonoma race was his first Sprint Cup race since 2011. ... Team owner Roger Penske is the winningest car owner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with 16 Indianapolis 500 wins, but he's never won the Brickyard 400.

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