I could go on and on about how historic Indianapolis is, but we all know this already. For over 100 years, it has been the most celebrated and revered speedway in the country, a facility that hosted its 100th running of the most historic open-wheel race this past May.
I could ramble on about how in NASCAR’s short history at this track, it’s seen legends, champions, surprises and more occur.
Then there’s the rambling of how one of the more unique traditions in all of motorsports began without any knowledge, and was done on a whim.
But in all of that, this particular weekend was full of so many different emotions. From happiness, to feeling humble, proud, exhausted, overheated and reflective, this weekend had it all.
To start, what can be said about how strong Kyle Busch was the entire weekend is beyond words.
Now, I know how earlier this year I went on to say that Martin Truex Jr’s absolute whooping at Charlotte was the most dominant performance I have seen in NASCAR, and that is still the case. But for Busch, he achieved yet another first in the 68-year history of NASCAR. He is now the first driver to actually capture both the pole and the victory in both the Xfinity (Former Busch and Nationwide) Series and Sprint Cup (Former Grand National, Winston Cup and Nextel Cup) Series in one weekend.
He led over 91 percent of the laps ran at Indianapolis this weekend, and he was only one of three drivers to lead laps in Sunday’s action.
A year ago, this race cemented his place in the Chase, a Chase he would go on and win. It could be a case of deja vu this season.
Now, the other reason this weekend was so emotional is because it was a second chance, and a final chance, for two drivers. As I noted earlier, Jeff Gordon returned to driving as a fill-in for Dale Earnhardt Jr, who is sidelined right now with concussion-like symptoms and isn’t cleared to race for at least another two weeks. So, after Alex Bowman substituted at New Hampshire, Gordon came out of retirement to drive the No. 88. But, made it clear that it’s Junior’s team, as noted by the name plate on the car and also on the pit wall.
At the same time, this was the final weekend that Tony Stewart would compete at his home track as a driver, a place he grew up at, and still lives near. It is a place that he absolutely loves, and now was experiencing for the last time.
Both he and Gordon were experiencing Indy one final time, and after all was done with the race, while Busch did his own celebrating, the real story was coming to a close. But it came to a close in a unique way.
Prior to the final restart, Stewart asked his spotter to talk with Gordon’s spotter to do something just for them, after the checkered flag. Gordon was told, and he was delighted. The two drivers who grew up in Indiana, both multi-time winners at Indianapolis, took their respective cars side-by-side and drove slowly around the track one more, and what likely will be one final, time. It wasn’t for competition, nor for position. It was all about respect and love that each has for the city, the track, and one another.
Both Stewart and Gordon will be in the Hall of Fame in due time, and each were delighted to take in that one final lap around a track each cherishes through their careers.
Emotions were abound the entire weekend for everyone, but for just those few moments, when the No. 14 and No. 88 were going around the track, it was a moment of peace, and happiness. A moment every fan got to experience, and probably will never experience again.
RESULTS: 1-Kyle Busch 2-Kenseth 3-Johnson 4-Hamlin 5-Larson 6-Harvick 7-Logano 8-Truex Jr. 9-Dillon 10-Menard
NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Stewart 13-Gordon 16-Kurt Busch 17-Keselowski 35-Edwards
CAUTIONS: 8 for 34 laps. Lap 5-8 (Oil On Frontstretch From #83); 54-58 (#16 Accident-T1); 121-127 (#23 Accident-T3); 132-134 (#7 Accident-BS); 151-153 (Debris-T1); 155-158 (#2, 19, 21, 31 Accident-T1 [Red Flag: Lap 155, 7 Mins, 25 Secs.]); 160-164 (#6, 15 Accident-BS); 166-168 (#1, 14, 31, 44 Accident-T1).
LEAD CHANGES: 4 among 3 drivers. Kyle Busch 1-26; B. Keselowski 27-41; Kyle Busch 42-55; J. Logano 56-61; Kyle Busch 62-170.
TIME OF RACE: 3 Hrs, 17 Mins, 46 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 128.940 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 2.126 Seconds
CHASE GRID: 1. Keselowski-647 (Points), 4 (Wins); 2. Kyle Busch-601, 4; 3. Edwards-593, 2; 4. Johnson-552, 2; 5. Kenseth-545, 2; 6. Harvick-671, 1; 7. Kurt Busch-627, 1; 8. Logano-606, 1; 9. Truex Jr-573, 1; 10. Hamlin-542, 1; 11. Stewart-317, 1; 12. Elliott, -146 (From 1st-Harvick); 13. Dillon, -151; 14. Newman, -164; 15. McMurray, -175; 16. Larson, -199.