JOLIET – Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway definitely featured a little bit of everything.
On a day with excessive temperatures and the potential for rain, several racers with good stories held leads and the series’ top performers, as well as Saturday’s Xfinity Series winner who was racing 700 miles over two days, were positioned for an exciting finish.
But while Kyle Busch admitted that things didn’t go all that well for him and his team, he earned his record 11th victory in all series at Chicagoland Speedway by capturing another win in dramatic fashion in a good old-fashioned race in the NASCAR tradition.
The drama finally wasn’t over until the last lap when Saturday’s Xfinity winner, Kyle Larson, tried to slide past Busch but bumped him, only to be bumped in return a short time later to end his title hopes as Busch went on to capture his first NASCAR Cup Series victory at the racetrack since 2008.
“When he didn’t try to do a slider, I wasn’t sure what his next move was going to be,” Busch said. “I was like, ‘Surely he’s not going to drive inside of me and then he did.’ So after that point, I was kind of like, ‘OK, all bets are off and it’s wide open from here on out back to the checkered flag.’ So he got by me and in getting into Turn 3 it was just about following in there and seeing if I could cut left him under him. So I drove up in there as far as I could and got into the back of him and once I did that, he was kind of sliding loose and I was just trying to get back to the start finish line. Once it’s done to you, then it’s fair game.
“We were really far off, I don’t know what we had going on early on in the race, but we were just not very good. People said once I got the clean air we were better, and we were, and that’s certainly helpful. We were just missing something that we kept working on and were trying to find and as our adjustments went, we kept getting closer and closer to it and kept getting closer and closer to the front. It was a long run, longer than I wanted it to be with Larson getting the top rolling and chasing us down. Then lap cars got in the way and slowed me down so much that it just dragged me back into Larson’s grasp again and the race was on all over again.”
Kevin Harvick took third while two-time defending race champion Martin Truex, Jr. finished fourth. And after an up-and-down day, Clint Bowyer settled for fifth.
With his victory, Busch retains the points lead by a 736-674 margin over Harvick. Both lead the series with five wins while Harvick holds a 13-12 edge in top-five finishes and Busch has a 30-27 advantage in playoff points. This is only the fourth time in series history where two drivers have five or more victories in the first 17 races and the first since 2010.
Ryan Blaney and Bowyer exchanged leads in the early going with Blaney holding three leads for 19 laps while Bowyer had two leads for 21 laps.
After Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon each led for a few laps, Aric Almirola moved in front from laps 60 to 86 and eventually held four leads for
70 laps. Included in that was his lead on lap 80, which assured him of his initial stage win in the NASCAR Cup series. His 70 laps led were also more than he had collected in the past six seasons.
Kurt Busch took the lead in lap 142 and held it for 18 laps before Harvick passed him on lap 160 to secure the stage win. Harvick went on to lead for 39 laps of the race.
Kyle Busch claimed the top spot and led for the final 59 laps. Larson, who led for seven laps shortly before that, hoped to follow up on his first-ever win at the track and put himself in a position to do that, thanks to Busch being slowed by late lap traffic.
It was the eighth time that Busch and Larson finished one-two in a NASCAR Xfinity or Cup Series race with Busch winning all eight.