The 2016 Brickyard 400 turned into the Kyle Busch show.
The No. 18 car led 149 of the 170 laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday en route to his second straight Brickyard 400 victory.
NASCAR researcher Matt Willis noted Busch has reigned supreme at the track over the last couple of years:
Busch crossed the finish line more than two seconds ahead of Matt Kenseth:
|2016 Brickyard 400 Results: Top 10|
|Pos.||Driver||Time Behind (Seconds)||Laps Led|
|8||Martin Truex Jr.||5.054||0|
|Source: Fox Sports|
Busch remains in second place in the Sprint Cup standings after Sunday's race, but he's now equal on wins with Brad Keselowski:
|Chase for the Sprint Cup Standings|
|9||Martin Truex Jr.||573||1|
Even before the Brickyard 400's final moments, Busch's performance was one of the best of the season, but the way in which he secured the win elevated his driving into an even higher category.
He faced a restart on Lap 153, resulting from a caution for debris on the track. On the first lap back under the green flag, the red flag was waved after an accident involving Keselowski, Danica Patrick, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman and Ryan Blaney.
NASCAR on NBCSN shared a replay of the wreck:
The race restarted with two laps to go, and Busch again jumped out to a healthy lead, only for another accident to bring a caution, which necessitated NASCAR's overtime period.
As NASCAR on NBCSN joked, fuel was becoming a concern for Busch and his crew:
Busch's wife, Samantha, wasn't enthused with how the race was unfolding:
Yet another wreck during the overtime period brought an additional caution, but Busch again was up to the task on the restart. He immediately surged ahead of Joey Logano, building a nearly unassailable advantage over two laps.
ESPN The Magazine's Ryan McGee was impressed by how fast Busch was driving during the late stages:
It would've been disappointing if all of Busch's hard work had been erased as a result of a poor restart in overtime. Instead, he held on, which is a testament to his skill and the work of his pit crew.
Many eyes were on the No. 88 car as Jeff Gordon filled in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is suffering from concussion-like symptoms. Gordon had originally retired following the end of the 2015 season but said he couldn't turn down the opportunity to help Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick again, per SB Nation's Jordan Bianchi:
I didn't even have to think twice about it. When Rick calls, he has that confidence in me and asks me to step up and do something for the organization, whether it was driver or other responsibilities, the way he has been there for me, the way this team and organization has been there for me over the years.
Really, this is just me helping out the organization.
While Gordon is a legendary driver with five Indianapolis wins to his name, he was likely to be a non-factor Sunday. He made the transition from analyst to driver with little preparation time, and he hopped back behind the wheel in the middle of the season.
Driving in a car different than the No. 24 presented problems as well. Gordon reminded his pit crew he'd need extra help to ensure he went to the right spot, per USA Today's Jeff Gluck:
Gordon finished in 13th and on the lead lap, which was an achievement in and of itself, considering half of the field ended the race at least a lap down.
The 44-year-old will sub in for Earnhardt at next week's Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway as well and should be able to build on the positives from Sunday. He may even be a contender to collect one more checkered flag.
The 2016 Brickyard 400 was also notable for being the last one of Tony Stewart's career. Though he finished in 11th and never challenged Busch for the lead, he and Gordon had one of the race's best moments when they shared one final lap on the track.
NASCAR on NBCSN documented it on Twitter:
Only six more races remain until the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway. The drivers who are still looking for a win to secure a spot in the top 16 are running out of time. Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon appear to be relatively safe, but the three drivers below them don't have as much security over the coming weeks.
Earnhardt's health will be among the biggest storylines to follow during that span. The longer he remains out, the further down the standings he'll slip. By the time he's medically cleared to return, it may be too late to salvage his Chase hopes.
Busch talked about how good his No. 18 car was, per Gluck:
I certainly had hoped it would be like that and be that good. This Toyota was awesome today. Man, it was just so fast, not even some of my teammates could challenge me. We just had it hooked up. Man, it was like it was on rails. It's fun to be out here with such a dominant piece at Indy.
Gordon and Stewart were complimentary of one another after the race.
"Tony and I have gone through a lot together over through the years," Gordon said, per Scott Horner of the Indianapolis Star. "Now I know more about who Tony really is."
"I can't think of anybody else I would rather have shared that moment with," Stewart said, per FoxSports.com's Joe Menzer.