The Brickyard 400 is one of NASCAR's most prestigious races, so it was appropriate that numerous phenomenal drivers had a chance at the checkered flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Kyle Busch was left standing at the end, claiming first in a thrilling green-white-checkered finish at the historic venue. Multiple late cautions pushed the action four laps past the expected 160, but Busch managed to hold on.
Here' a look at the top finishers from Sunday's marquee NASCAR showcase:
|2015 Brickyard 400 Top Finishers|
|4||Martin Truex Jr.||-2.035|
Busch's victory gave him a Brickyard sweep after his triumph in Saturday's Xfinity Series race. It's also his fourth Sprint Cup win in his past five starts.
Danielle Trotta of Fox Sports 1 highlighted how close Busch had been in recent Brickyard appearances:
ESPN Stats & Info noted how Busch joined elite company with a four-time Brickyard 400 champion in Jimmie Johnson on Sunday:
That's not bad for a man whose crash in the Xfinity race before the Daytona 500 saw him break his right leg and left foot. Just to come back as soon as Busch has is an achievement in and of itself—never mind emerging as the most dominant driver on the planet of late.
Carl Edwards started on the pole for his second straight start, hoping to at least add to his point total that was lowest among the top 16 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup grid entering Sunday's race.
NASCAR Stats highlighted how often the lead changed hands even before the grand finale that bunched up the field thanks to yellow flags:
Unfortunately for Edwards, he lost a bit of control on a restart with 14 laps to go, sliding from third place to 15th, and he wound up 13th in the end. The slip-up undid quite a bit of fantastic work from Edwards as he stuck near the leading pace with so many quality cars running well.
Only one more lap passed before Dale Earnhardt Jr. trundled into the grass just after the first turn and brought about the seventh and penultimate caution. The subsequent restart saw Busch make a magnificent push past Kevin Harvick to the front.
Debris halted the action with five laps to go and Busch out in front of Harvick and Joey Logano in that order. Logano gave Busch a run with three laps left when the race resumed, but Trevor Bayne spun out from near the back of the pack to once again stop the momentum.
NASCAR's official Twitter account showed Busch's final lap as he managed to remain out in front of Logano, who was bidding to back up his Daytona 500 breakthrough with yet another epic win:
Joe Gibbs Racing provided footage from Victory Lane:
Jeff Gordon has won this race a record five times and was the reigning champion, but he didn't have the best sendoff amid his final season.
Gordon began in 19th place before getting tangled up with Clint Bowyer in an accident on Lap 50 that ultimately pushed him just one spot clear of last place:
The legendary No. 24 car for Hendrick Motorsports only gets two points for his finish, which significantly damages his Sprint Cup outlook. It's vital for Gordon to string together some strong finishes—or preferably pick up another victory—in the coming weeks.
Busch has had a remarkable comeback story this season, exceeding any expectations and positioning himself for the Chase despite missing so much time. If he managed to win the Chase down the road, Busch would cap off one of the best stories in NASCAR history.
Kentucky Speedway logged Busch's perspective afterward, as he is still focused on the bigger picture:
Busch still has work to do to get there despite all the greatness he's mustered of late. He has pulled within 23 points of getting into the top 30 in points, a stipulation for participating in the Chase.
Next week's stop on the NASCAR slate is the Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway, where Earnhardt is defending the checkered flag. Perhaps Earnhardt will be owed one in light of his late-race mishap on Sunday that led to a disappointing 22nd position from his starting spot of eighth—one ahead of Busch.
Given how amazing Busch has been of late, though, it's hard to bet against him as the favorite.