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    NASCAR Cup Series | Brickyard 400 (2:30 p.m, NBC)

    Kyle Busch aims for three-peat at Indy

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 22: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 22, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
    Tim Bradbury/Getty Images
    Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, would like to pull a Memorial Day double in 2018, driving in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C.

    INDIANAPOLIS — Last year, Kyle Busch pulled off a rare sweep by winning the Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series poles and races on Brickyard 400 weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    It’s the last time Busch celebrated a Cup win and now that he’s back at the historic 2.5-mile oval, he doesn’t want to wait until next September to make a return trip.

    He’d like to add a May stop to his already full 2018 schedule and attempt the fabled double bill of the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C.


    ‘‘I had [a deal] done last year, sold it and everything,’’ Busch said when asked about competing in the Indy 500. ‘‘I had a boss [car owner Joe Gibbs] that said no.’’

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    Busch, the 2015 Cup champion and two-time defending Brickyard champ, hasn’t given up on his dream; he’s just putting it on hold temporarily this weekend as he chases history and tries to end a 12-month victory drought.

    He couldn’t have picked a better place to come.

    Over the past two years, Busch has been the most dominant stock-car driver at Indy.

    He has led 168 of the last 189 laps here, including a record 149 out of 170 last year when he won from the pole. He also won the 2015 and 2016 Xfinity Series races from the pole, giving him four consecutive wins at Indianapolis, where Busch Saturday captured the pole with a fast qualifying run of 187.301 miles per hour.


    When the track opened for Xfinity practice Friday, Busch’s car was near the top again — even with restrictor-plate motors. On Saturday, 19-year-old Xfinity rookie William Byron became the youngest driver to win at Indy, holding off runner-up Paul Menard over the last five laps.

    Even as Busch talks about winning an unprecedented third straight Brickyard, the thrill of taking a shot in IndyCar’s marquee race — and trying the 1,100-mile Memorial Day weekend double — remains a major attraction for the 32-year-old driver.

    ‘‘I thought I had a great opportunity to do it [in May], but I’m kind of glad it didn’t come together because [Fernando] Alonso [the two-time Formula One champion] kind of stole the headlines the last time it was done,’’ Busch said. ‘‘It would be fun. It would be a unique opportunity.

    “The thing that scares my boss is that I’ve never driven those [Indy] cars.’’

    If he goes for it, Busch would start the day in Indianapolis for the 500 then fly to North Carolina for the 600-mile Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His brother, Kurt Busch, tried that in 2014 and finished sixth at the Indy 500 before a blown engine knocked him out of the NASCAR nightcap.


    It would be the first time brothers have attempted the marathon.

    Alonso had never driven an IndyCar or even on an oval before May. Yet the two-time Formula One champ spent most of May’s race in contention before a blown engine knocked him out with 20 laps to go.

    Busch thinks his experience — and success — at the Brickyard would make him just as competitive.

    In 12 Indy starts, Busch has 10 top-10 finishes. He is one of four Cup drivers with at least two Brickyard titles and last year joined seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson as the only back-to-back race winners. Johnson won in 2008 and 2009.

    Somehow Busch has fought through the sweltering mid-summer temperatures and found the secret to winning on this narrow, low-banked oval where passing is tough.

    Busch’s success puts him in rare company.

    The only driver in track history to win four straight races at Indy is Michael Schumacher, the former Formula One superstar who won each US Grand Prix from 2003-06 on the speedway’s road course. Nobody else has captured three consecutive major race titles at Indy, and if Busch extends his winning streak to five on Saturday, it would break Schumacher’s record.

    A win Sunday would also give Toyota its 100th Cup victory, assure Busch of a spot in NASCAR’s playoff and give Joe Gibbs Racing its second win in two weeks after starting the season 0 for 17.

    ‘‘It’s pretty cool to come in here and have a chance to go for three in a row,’’ Busch said. ‘‘But it’s frustrating that it’s been 365 days since we’ve won one of these things.’’

    And he would rather not have to wait even longer to give Indy a shot next season.

    ‘‘I’m good,’’ he said when asked if he’d trade his Brickyard wins for an Indy 500 crown. ‘‘I’d just like to have a shot to go and earn it myself.’’