Kyle Busch feels that NASCAR should not only promote its young stars, but also established drivers such as himself, and Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.
USA TODAY Sports
JOLIET, Ill. — Highlights of Sunday’s Overton’s 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway:
WINNER: Kyle Busch won a frantic battle with Kyle Larson over the closing two laps to finish first Sunday at the 1.5-mile track in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.
The two cars made contact twice over the final three miles. Larson had the lead briefly after clipping Busch, but Busch retaliated by bumping Larson onto the track apron.
Despite damage to both cars, Busch was able to cross the line first, and Larson was able to hold off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick.
“If you don’t like that kind of racing, don’t even watch,” Busch said after climbing out of his mangled No. 18 Toyota. “When you start banging doors into one another, it’s fair game after that. Proud to get ourselves another win at Chicagoland. It’s pretty cool to go back to victory lane.”
The win was Busch’s fifth of the year. Larson was 1.8 seconds behind in second.
“I had an opportunity there to slide in front of him,” Larson said of the frantic finish. “I tried to get to his door, but I opened the door from him to retaliate in (turn) three.
“We put on a hell of a show for you guys. That’s got to be one of the best NASCAR finishes of all time. I was on the short end, but that was a lot of fun.”
Larson recorded his fourth runner-up finish of the season as he inches closer and closer to scoring his first victory of 2018.
Busch earned his 48th career Cup Series victory to move into a tie for 14th on the all-time list with Herb Thomas.
LAJOIE INTO WALL: Corey LaJoie hit the wall on lap 207, bringing out the caution. Harvick held a three-second lead over Kyle Busch.
HAMLIN SLIDES: Denny Hamlin lost control of his car on lap 177 and slid onto the apron in the second turn. Harvick held the lead.
STAGE TWO: Harvick won the second stage after a side-by-side battle with teammate Kurt Busch. The two made contact approaching the finish line on the last lap. Harvick won the stage by .16 of a second. Following Busch were Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Hamlin and Joey Logano.
LAP WORTH A THOUSAND: Harvick, one of the season’s top drivers, led his 1,000th seasonal lap late in the second stage.
ALMIROLA LOSES LEAD: Aric Almirola had a strong car in the race’s first two stages. He was leading on lap 141 when he pitted with a loose wheel. Kurt Busch took over first place, and Almirola fell to 26th, a lap down.
DEBRIS CAUTION: A caution for debris interrupted competition near the halfway point of the second stage. After a round of pit stops, Blaney, whose team decided on a two-tire change, held the lead.
STAGE ONE: Almirola outran Larson by 3.1 seconds to win the first stage — his first career stage victory. Following in the top 10 were Truex, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Keselowski, Blaney, Logano, Elliott and Erik Jones. Also leading during the stage were Clint Bowyer, Blaney, Austin Dillon and Keselowski.
JUNIOR’S ON LINE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his debut as a Cup series analyst on NBC Sports’ broadcast of the race. He shared commentary with Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte. During the broadcast, Junior tweeted to a friend: “Fun fun fun.”
BOWYER BOBBLES: The first stage of the race was tough for Bowyer. After his first pit stop, he was nabbed for speeding on pit road. He also was speeding on his drive-through penalty lap and had to pit again. That penalty was a stop-and-go, but Bowyer failed to stop, causing him to have to take a third trip down pit road. By the end of the first stage, Bowyer, who was leading when the pit drama began, was in 30th place, two laps down.
HOT, VERY HOT: The race started with temperatures rising into the low 90s, with higher temps and smothering humidity ahead for later in the afternoon. Drivers were focusing on hydration in the hours before the green flag.
Sunday at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway (starting position in parentheses):
1. (16) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267 laps, 40 points.
2. (18) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 267, 52.
3. (11) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 267, 50.
4. (36) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 267, 48.
5. (5) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 267, 35.
6. (9) Erik Jones, Toyota, 267, 32.
7. (37) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267, 32.
8. (12) Joey Logano, Ford, 267, 33.
9. (7) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267, 38.
10. (15) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 267, 27.
11. (10) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 267, 26.
12. (13) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 267, 25.
13. (1) Paul Menard, Ford, 267, 24.
14. (38) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 267, 23.
15. (17) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 267, 22.
16. (20) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 266, 21.
17. (4) Kurt Busch, Ford, 266, 36.
18. (2) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 266, 29.
19. (3) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 266, 24.
20. (8) William Byron, Chevrolet, 266, 17.
21. (26) Michael McDowell, Ford, 266, 16.
22. (39) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 266, 15.
23. (22) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 266, 14.
24. (19) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 266, 13.
25. (6) Aric Almirola, Ford, 266, 22.
26. (21) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 265, 11.
27. (24) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 264, 10.
28. (25) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 264, 9.
29. (28) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 262, 8.
30. (27) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 261, 0.
31. (29) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 260, 6.
32. (34) Reed Sorenson, Toyota, 259, 5.
33. (30) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 255, 4.
34. (32) Corey Lajoie, Chevrolet, 233, 3.
35. (33) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 227, 0.
36. (31) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 224, 1.
37. (14) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, garage, 189, 1.
38. (23) David Ragan, Ford, 189, 1.
39. (35) Timmy Hill, Ford, garage, 185, 0.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 140.638 mph.
Time of Race: 2 hours, 50 minutes, 52 seconds.
Margin of Victory: 1.875 seconds.
Caution Flags: 5 for 23 laps.
Lead Changes: 24 among 10 drivers.
Lap Leaders: R. Blaney 1-16; C. Bowyer 17; R. Blaney 18; C. Bowyer 19-38; B. Keselowski 39-46; A. Dillon 47-59; A. Almirola 60-86; K. Harvick 87; A. Almirola 88-122; K. Harvick 123-128; A. Almirola 129; R. Newman 130-132; R. Blaney 133-134; A. Almirola 135-141; Kurt Busch 142-159; K. Harvick 160-162; K. Larson 163; K. Harvick 164-167; Kurt Busch 168-169; K. Larson 170-175; K. Harvick 176-177; B. Keselowski 178-185; K. Harvick 186-208; Kyle Busch 209-267.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): A. Almirola 4 times for 70 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 59 laps; K. Harvick 6 times for 39 laps; C. Bowyer 2 times for 21 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 20 laps; R. Blaney 3 times for 19 laps; B. Keselowski 2 times for 16 laps; A. Dillon 1 time for 13 laps; K. Larson 2 times for 7 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 3 laps.