Rowdy and the Rocket Man put on a show at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Kyle “Rowdy” Busch and Ryan “Rocket Man” Newman both set NASCAR track qualifying records — Busch in Nationwide and Newman in Sprint Cup — on an overcast, cool day at IMS.
Busch then overtook Brian Scott to lead the final three laps in the Indiana 250, giving Busch his first victory at Indy and his 59th Nationwide victory.
Newman — a native Hoosier — looks to repeat that victory from the pole in today’s Brickyard 400. He blistered the bricks with his one-lap effort of 187.531 mph (47.992 seconds) as the new Generation 6 car made an impressive debut at Indy. In all, the top nine Cup qualifiers surpassed the previous track record of 186.293 (48.311) set by Casey Mears in 2004.
Defending Brickyard winner Jimmie Johnson (187.438 mph) went out as the 11th qualifier and stayed atop Indy’s iconic scoring pylon for the next 33 drivers. Newman, the last driver with a qualifying attempt, bumped him to second. The Gen-6 car now has the qualifying record at 10 of NASCAR’s 23 current tracks.
“I think that is honestly the fastest I’ve ever seen Papa Smurf go,” Newman said of his sponsorship on the No. 39 Quicken Loans/The Smurfs Chevrolet SS.
“I got emotional on the backstretch when they told me. It’s special to me because it’s Indiana. But it’s more special to me because it’s the Brickyard, because it’s Indy, because of the history of auto racing at this facility. … It’s awesome to get that standing ovation from all the Indiana guys and girls that are here.”
After Newman took his ovation, Busch took his traditional bow after winning the Indiana 250. He dominated by leading 92 of the 100 laps. But Scott nearly wrecked it all for Busch.
Scott, winless in 128 Nationwide starts, slipped into the lead off a restart with six laps left as Busch and Joey Logano banged doors. Scott led the next three before Busch dispatched Logano and as the fastest car all day chased down the race lead once again, Busch won by 2.141 seconds.
Busch also set the Nationwide qualifying record with a speed of 179.644 (50.099 seconds). That topped Kasey Kahne’s 176.284 (51.054) set in last year’s inaugural appearance.
His fifth Nationwide victory from the pole this season also set a new series record. Overall, Busch has eight Nationwide wins in 15 starts.
“That’s awesome,” Busch said of the record. “We also set the record for the most poles in the series (with 31). Whatever records are left let me know and I’m going to try to put my name on them.”