Kyle Busch spent Saturday climbing in and out of brutally hot cars in Indianapolis.
All that work finally got him back to a pretty cool spot in Victory Lane – and some ice cold water.
After claiming two poles Saturday afternoon, Busch returned to the track and led all but one lap to capture his second straight NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at the track by 0.415 seconds over hard-charging Kevin Harvick. Paul Menard was third, 1.338 seconds off the pace.
Busch, who has won seven of his 11 series starts this year, has been virtually unbeatable on Indianapolis’ 2.5-mile oval all weekend.
He posted the fastest practice times in the Xfinity and Sprint Cup series Friday, won the poles for both races, captured the first of two heat races to establish the rest of the starting order and put himself in position second straight sweep of the two races at the track.
No NASCAR driver has won both poles and both races there.
The only prize Busch didn’t get to claim Saturday was the $100,000 dash-for-cash prize, but he was ineligible. That payout went to fifth-place finisher Justin Allgaier – who was the best of the non-Cup regulars. Allgaier said the thermometer in his car reached 137 degrees.
How dominant has Busch been?
He held off two former Brickyard 400 winners and one, Harvick, couldn’t even catch the leader after taking new tires during the final caution period, which extended the race to 63 laps.
The difference: Busch’s perfectly timed restarts.
“New tires for those guys were good for them, not so much for us,” Busch said after completing the final 36 laps without a stop. “On the restarts, the second-to-last one was really good. The last one was OK.”
It was at least good enough.
Busch only surrendered the lead once – when he pitted after 27 laps – and retook the lead when Brendan Gaughan made his pit stop.
The only other time Busch’s lead was even in jeopardy came after rookie Roy Black Jr. hit the wall in the second turn, slid down the track and was hit by Harrison Rhodes, bringing out a caution with six laps to go.
Harvick and Kyle Larson both stopped and changed tires. But they wound up battling one another so hard, they couldn’t catch Busch.
“Our goal was to overachieve today, and we did that,” Harvick said. “We had a couple of good restarts and wound up second. Not a bad day.”
Formula One: Nico Rosberg of Mercedes will start from pole Sunday at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest, ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull. Qualifying was hampered by heavy rainfall, which delayed the start by 20 minutes and also led to several interruptions and crashes, including by Felipe Massa of Williams and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
Hamilton, who barely made it to the last of the three qualifying sessions by finishing 10th in Session 2, is seeking a record fifth victory at the Hungaroring circuit. Michael Schumacher also has four wins in Hungary.
Before the last practice, the sport’s governing body reaffirmed its commitment to “zero tolerance” for cars going off the track. During the race, drivers leaving the track three times at turns 4 and 11 where electronic sensors have been installed, will be shown a black and white warning flag. One more infraction likely will lead to a drive-through penalty, said Charlie Whiting, the FIA’s Formula One race director.
SportsCar Championship: Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow raced to victory in the Northeast Grand Prix, a 2-hour, 40-minute race at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. Popow took the lead after the first round of pit stops 30 minutes into the race, and pit work that vaulted Van der Zande from sixth to the lead on his final stop with 1 hour, 4 minutes left. He beat Tom Kimber-Smith by 0.815 seconds on the 1.474-mile circuit.
Popow and van der Zande also won the Prototype Challenge class at Belle Isle and Watkins Glen. They extend their point lead to 17 over Kimber-Smith and Robert Alon.