NASCAR at Indianapolis 2015: Winners, Losers from Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard

Lindsay Gibbs@linzsports Featured ColumnistJuly 26, 2015

NASCAR at Indianapolis 2015: Winners, Losers from Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    The Brickyard 400 is one of the most anticipated NASCAR races of the year, and this year's edition certainly lived up to the hype.

    Carl Edwards started on the pole, but his teammate Kyle Busch was the one who lifted the trophy once again. 

    Joey Logano finished just behind Busch, with Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top five.

    We're getting down to the wire before the summer ends and the Chase begins, and things in the Sprint Cup Series are heating up.

    Here are all of the winners and losers from Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis.

Winner: Kyle Busch

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    Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    The run that Kyle Busch is on right now is nothing short of ridiculous.

    With his Brickyard 400 victory, the younger Busch brother has now won four of the last five races and three in a row. This weekend, he won the Xfinity and Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    When Busch came back after missing the first 11 weeks of the season, it seemed impossible that he would earn enough points to make it into the Chase, even with the help of his NASCAR waiver.

    Now, he's only 23 points out of the requisite top 30.

    "We're a championship-caliber team; now we just have to be championship eligible," Busch said on NBC Sports Network after the race.

    At this rate, a Chase without Kyle Busch seems impossible.

Loser: Jeff Gordon

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    R Brent Smith/Associated Press

    Jeff Gordon's dreams for a sixth win at the Brickyard 400 officially ended on Lap 50, when he got caught up in a wreck with Clint Bowyer. 

    Though Gordon got back onto the track, his car was too damaged to be dangerous, and he finished in 42nd place. He had trouble even keeping up with the track's minimum speed.

    It had been an emotional week for Gordon, who lived nearby in Indianapolis as he was growing up and learning how to race. He has a street named after him in the city, and this week there was a parade in his honor.

    But there was no fairy-tale ending for Gordon at the Brickyard. That's a recurring theme this season—he has yet to win a race and is in danger of not making the Chase.

Winner: Ryan Blaney

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    Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

    That's one way to bounce back strong. A day after one of the more disappointing moments of his career, Ryan Blaney picked himself up and scored the second top-10 finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career.

    On Saturday, the 21-year-old was leading the Xfinity race with one lap to go before Kyle Busch overtook him. Blaney felt that he had lost control of his car for a brief second and took full blame.

    However, the young driver received some words of encouragement from some of the best drivers in NASCAR.

    "(Blaney's) gonna accomplish goals in his career that will soon leave today a very distant memory," Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted

    Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano all offered support as well, as Jared Turner of Shake and Bake Crew detailed. 

    Blaney showed a lot of mettle by bouncing back strong on Sunday, finishing in 12th and running in the top 10 for a big portion of the race.

Loser: Austin Dillon on Pit Road

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    Jim Cole/Associated Press

    Usually there's no such thing as driving too fast at Indianapolis Motor Speedway—unless you're on pit road, that is.

    Austin Dillon learned that the hard way. The driver of the No. 3 got a speeding penalty during the first round of green-flag pit stops during the day. That was frustrating but not the end of the world, since there was enough time to make it up.

    But when he was serving his penalty and driving down pit road the second time, he was caught speeding again.

    NBC Sports Network reported that Dillon complained over the radio that his car's speedometer must not be calibrated properly because it didn't signal that he was speeding during either penalty.

    Whatever happened, it was a shame. Dillon got a lap down early and never could get back in a competitive position. He finished 25th.

Winner: Drama

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    You name it, and this Brickyard 400 had it.

    A controversial new aero package? Check. A green-white-checkered finish? Check. A caution for a balloon? Check.

    It was an eventful day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from start to finish.

    The length of the oval meant that there was a lot of pit-road strategy since it was possible to make a pit stop and stay on the lead lap.

    There were a few different pit-road strategies going on at one time, and at the end it looked like it would all come down to fuel mileage. Then the cautions came out, including one caused by a Dale Earnhardt Jr. wreck.

    It came down to a final restart between two of the best in the game, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.

    A lot of time the biggest races don't get the most drama. Thankfully, that wasn't true on Sunday.

Loser: Team Penske

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    Everyone knows the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is Roger Penske's house—his team has won 16 races at the Indianapolis 500.

    However, that success hasn't translated to NASCAR Sprint Cup, where his drivers are somehow winless at the oval despite their talent.

    Heading into the Brickyard 400, Penske drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski had their eyes on the prize. Unfortunately, it wasn't their day.

    Keselowski got caught up in the wrong pit-stop strategy and ended up finishing in 10th. Logano had a shot on the final restart but didn't end up with the help from the field he needed and ended up in second.

    "It's so frustrating, so close to winning here at the Brickyard," Logano said on NBC Sports Network after the race. "Second hurts. No trophies for second."

Winner: Toyota

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    Jerry Markland/Getty Images

    The Indianapolis Motor Speedway had always been a road block for Toyota. Somehow, the engine had never fueled a winning car at the track.

    This weekend, that all changed.

    On Saturday, Carl Edwards won Toyota's first pole at the track. On Sunday, Kyle Busch won Toyota's first Brickyard 400.

    Toyota has now made it to Victory Lane at all of NASCAR's active tracks, a special accomplishment. Making it even sweeter? It had been 13 years since a non-Chevrolet driver won this race. 

    "To put Toyota here in Victory Lane here in Indy, and to break that Chevrolet streak, it's special," Busch said after the race on NBC Sports Network.

Loser: Aric Almirola's Chase Hopes

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Aric Almirola made the Chase last year thanks to a win at Daytona International Speedway, and Richard Petty Motorsports certainly wants to get back there in 2015.

    Unfortunately, the Brickyard 400 didn't help his cause. The No. 43 spun out on Lap 108 when he was in 17th place. He got back onto the track but was three laps down.

    His frustration certainly showed—he got into an on-track confrontation with Trevor Bayne during a caution with fewer than 20 laps to go and reportedly let out his anger on the radio as well, per the Associated Press' Jenna Fryer.

    Almirola is winless on the season and was in 16th in the Chase Grid coming into this race. He finished in 38th.


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