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My Brickyard Moment: Kyle Busch, 2015-16

Note: This is a new edition of a series of letters from NASCAR drivers recounting their NASCAR Cup Series wins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other big moments to happen at the Brickyard. Read other installments of “My Brickyard Moment” here.

Kyle Busch started the 2015 NASCAR season in a dreaded way: with an injury sustained in the NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Busch broke his right leg and his left foot in an incident with 10 laps to go.

The injury kept him out of the NASCAR Cup Series for the first 11 races of the season, and he returned to the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Busch was granted a waiver into the NASCAR Playoffs, and he locked himself into the postseason with a win one month later at Sonoma Raceway. He went on a tear and won four races in five weeks that summer, including the Brickyard 400.

It was a corner turned for Busch, who became just the second NASCAR Cup Series driver ever to win back-to-back races at IMS. He produced the most dominating performance by a NASCAR Cup Series driver at IMS when he won again in 2016 by leading 149 of 170 laps.

Busch also won both NASCAR Xfinity Series races on the 2.5-mile oval in 2015-16 (two of his total four Xfinity Series wins at IMS), asserting his dominance at the Speedway. He also won three straight Cup Series poles from 2016-18.

In his own words, now two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Busch explains how after that 2015 win at the Racing Capital of the World, he knew he was destined to be a NASCAR Cup Series champion:

I remember my Brickyard wins, the first being in 2015. Actually, it was after injury. I came back, and in my fifth race back I was able to win at Sonoma Raceway, and then a couple weeks later we won at the Brickyard.

I was thinking to myself: ‘Man, this is big. This is cool.’ I look back on history about how many Brickyard 400 winners have actually won the championship in the same year, and it was quite a few. Quite a few great names were on that list as well, too.

So, I looked at that and I was like: ‘Man, this is going to be us. We’re going to win the championship this year. This is ours to lose.’ That win just kicked off that whole second half of the year for us to bring home our first championship.

I tried to soak it in. Oh, my gosh, I just can’t believe (what happened). Our car was really, really good (that) day. It’s really a treat to win at Indy.

I was able to back it up the following year in 2016 and win again. It was a great weekend for us, and such a special weekend, to be able to win a Brickyard 400, and to have that opportunity come our way (in 2015) and to be able to back it up was special in its own right. To sweep the weekend (by winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series race), that’s something that doesn’t come along very often.

It felt really, really cool to have finally figured that place out, if you will. To know what it takes in order to run fast at the Brickyard. Ever since then everything has been different. There’s a lot more to learn in order to get better at this place.

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