Kyle Busch secured his fifth victory of the season on Sunday afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway, but it was anything but easy. After hanging out towards the back-end of the Top 10 seemingly all day, the No. 18 snuck its way back into the picture in the final stage and assumed the lead on the final caution ahead of the No. 4 Kevin Harvick.
That’s where the excitement took place. Busch was pacing the field as the laps started to tick down, but that didn’t stop the charging No. 42 Chevrolet of Kyle Larson who was running the high-line almost up into the wall and picking up tenths of seconds per lap. Larson was even running it so hard he got into the wall with a few to go, but that still didn’t stop him from getting to the back of the 18.
With some help from lapped traffic stacking up, Larson was on the bumper of the 18 and pulled a slide-job to assume the lead with the white flag already in the air. The two cars made contact after Larson pulled up in front and the 18 would soon pay him back on the exit of turn 3 and into 4 getting into his bumper and turning the 42 around to re-take the lead and win the race. Good old fashioned hard racing and trading paint, with nothing but respect between the Kyle’s following the conclusion of the race.
“That’s got to be one of the best NASCAR finishes of all time,” Larson said after watching the replay. “I know I’m on the short end of the stick again, but it was fun.” Both cars came down pit road torn up and looking like they were involved in a major-wreck at Daytona or Talladega. “I love racing Kyle (Busch). I know all these fans are probably mad at him, but hey, we put on a hell of a show for you guys and that was a blast,” Larson said.
“We were horrible today, absolutely horrendous, we just never gave up – always kept working on it and making the most of it, got to where we needed it to be right there at the end and was able to lead all those laps and if it wasn’t for lapped traffic, it wouldn’t have even been a race,” Busch said. Then while acknowledged the crowd that was overwhelming with boos exclaimed, “I don’t know what y’all are whining about, but if you don’t like that kind of racing then don’t even watch!” I concur with Mr. “Rowdy” Busch there as that was one epic finish.
Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top 5 at Chicagoland. Bowyer fought back from a pair of speeding penalties that put him several laps down and attributed the bounce-back effort and result to a fast car and a pissed-off attitude. Aric Almiolra won stage one and was pacing the field early, but a pair of issues with loose wheels caused them to pit off sequence twice and cost them a top-ten finish as they wound up 25th on the day. Harvick took stage two from his teammate Kurt Busch as they raced hard to the conclusion for the critical playoff point, another example of the great racing that took place on Sunday.
Kyle Busch opened up a 62-point lead over Kevin Harvick atop the points standings and has matched the No. 4 with five victories this season. Between the “Big Three” of Busch, Harvick and Truex they have 13 of the 17 wins and 2,349 laps led. Drivers are back on the track Saturday night at Daytona for the Coke Zero Sugar 400. The restrictor-plate races have been the only two this season where someone other than the big three and Clint Bowyer have reached victory lane.
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