Senior staff writer
Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon left their fans with a moment for the ages Sunday with their side-by-side tribute lap after the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
They couldn’t quite pull of another historic Brickyard win, which would have sent most of the stock car racing world into ecstasy, so they made an historic moment while Kyle Busch celebrated his second straight 400 win at the Brickyard.
The lap was symbolic of their Hoosier short-track roots, their combined seven wins at the Brickyard and their evolving friendship.
“It was cool,” Stewart said. “I knew when we got the checkered we just didn’t want to come in just yet. I wanted to run one more lap and Jeff was around us. … We needed to go a lap around here together because most likely is the last time we’ll get a chance to do that. I couldn’t think of a better guy to share that moment with than Jeff.”
Gordon said, “Thank you to Tony Stewart. What a class act he is. It meant a lot to me that he invited me to come and make that last lap with him. It was a special moment.”
Stewart, a two-time winner of the 400, jumped into second place early but later suffered a penalty for speeding in pit lane and soldiered to 11th in the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet in his final race at the Brickyard. His day included a standing ovation at the driver’s meeting.
Gordon, a five-time winner of the race, was the replacement driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and finished 13th in the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet. He was 10th after 120 laps and will race in place of Earnhardt Sunday at Pocono,
Busch led 149 circuits of the 160-lap race, which was extended due to late-race accidents that included 2013 winner Ryan Newman, who finished 31st, and former IndyCar driver Danica Patrick, 22nd. Patrick hinted at a possible return to IndyCar during a special helmet presentation Saturday.
Busch was able to pull from the field on all restarts for a record-setting weekend as back-to-back winner of the 400 and the Lilly Diabetes 250 Saturday at the Brickyard.
Matt Kenseth was second and was followed by Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and Paul Menard in the top 10.
Three of the top four finishers drove Toyotas for Joe Gibbs Racing.