“If a NASCAR record falls in an empty forest, did it really happen,” Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel mused on his page.
With what Busch did in winning both the XFINITY Lilly Diabetes 250 and Crown Royal Combat Wounded Coalition for Veterans 400 and the canyons of empty seats, one thing certainly led to another.
As we discussed here last week, Kyle Busch is dominating NASCAR’s Saturday series and isn’t eligible to run for its championship. Busch won for the seventh time in 11 races and 83rd in his career. It clearly wasn’t close.
With the Dash for Cash feature in place, Busch led all 20 laps of his heat race, then went out and led 62 of 63 laps in the main. Sure, there were three overtime laps, but when you’re as good as Busch is on restarts, it’s like the field is Charlie Brown and he’s Lucy yanking the football away at the last possible moment.
It was the same deal for the Cup race. Busch had to work through 10 overtime laps, but it didn’t matter. He led 149 of the 170 laps around Indy’s 2.5-mile oval and won for the second straight year.
Busch has also won the XFINITY race at Indy three times in the last four years.
Even with the dominance of one driver, there are likely more reasons than just the racing as to why no one – or so it seemed in the massive facility that is Indianapolis Motor Speedway – bothered to show up and watch.
At the top of the list, it was ridiculously hot at the track. At the time of the green flag – around 3:19 p.m. local – it was 95 degrees with 71 percent humidity. In weather terms, that means it felt like it was around 103.
No matter how you slice it, staying cool was hard to do while sitting through 170 laps for nearly three and a half hours. If you were able to last until the end, thank the high-quality cooler for what you got to witness after the checkered flag.
Jeff Gordon returned for the first of two races in relief of the still-recovering Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet. He qualified 21st and finished 13th, then got back in the car and drove one more goodbye lap with none other than Tony Stewart, who finished 11th in his final Brickyard 400.
Gordon has kissed the bricks at Indy five times. Stewart has done it twice, along with some good fence climbing. The pair has combined for seven Winston/Sprint Cup championships – four for Gordon, three for Stewart.
And both are in retirement mode with a catch. Like Gordon is doing, Stewart is open to substituting in a pinch if one of his drivers can’t go due to injury.
“We will talk about it at some point, but I am definitely open to that scenario,” Stewart said in a press release put out by Chevy Racing. “if it were to happen down the road and we needed somebody, I would be open to doing what Jeff is doing this weekend.”
The old guard may be changing – we still don’t know when Earnhardt will be back – but it’s a cool thing when they get the chance to go out on high-quality terms.
As for the future, those who do the winning aren’t really going to care about the haters. It’s time for those who aren’t fans of a Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart to strap in, sit back and embrace what’s coming.
It’s going to be awesome.
Follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter @Tomzsports and email email@example.com.
NEXT WEEK'S RACES
Pocono Raceway (2.5-mile tri-oval), Long Pond, Pa.
-SPRINT CUP: Pennsylvania 400, Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET/10:30 a.m. PT, NBC Sports Network. Radio: SiriusXM Channel 90 or your local MRN Radio affiliate.
Race distance: 400 miles, 160 laps.
2015 champion: Matt Kenseth.
-CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES: Pocono Mountains 150, Saturday, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, Fox Sports 1. Radio: SiriusXM Channel 90 or your local MRN Radio affiliate.
Race distance: 150 miles, 60 laps.
2015 champion: Kyle Busch.
-XFINITY SERIES: US Cellular 250, Iowa Speedway (.875-mile oval), Newton, Iowa, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, NBC Sports Network. Radio: SiriusXM Channel 90 or your local MRN Radio affiliate.
Race distance: 250 laps, 218.75 miles.
2015 champion: Ryan Blaney.