Kyle Busch spun out Kyle Larson on the final lap at Chicagoland Speedway to win his fifth race of the season. Larson bumped Busch when the white flag flew, but Busch got the last laugh, sending the No. 42 into the infield when it appeared Larson would take the checkered flag coming out of Turn 3.
The No. 18 wasn't strong most of the race, failing to earn points in both Stage 1 and Stage 2, but Busch's team was able to make the right adjustments at the end to win.
Busch, the regular-season points leader, now ties Kevin Harvick for the series lead in wins. It's his first career win at Chicagoland in the Cup Series. Busch had won multiple times in both the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. When Rowdy emerged from his No. 18, he was treated to customary boos, but didn't seem to care.
While many have seen tempers flare and fights break out after finishes like this, Larson responded by calling the finish "hard racing" and sending his kudos to Busch. The two even met up and shook hands afterwards.
Aric Almirola took home his first career green-and-white checkered in Stage 1, taking the lead after drivers shuffled through green flag pit stops. Larson finished the stage second followed by Truex, Kurt Busch and Harvick to round out the top five. Bowyer suffered multiple penalties on pit road during the first stage and went three laps down after leading early.
While the first batch of green flag stops proved cost-worthy for Bowyer, he bounced back in a big way in Stage 2. Bowyer stayed out while others pit and became the beneficiary of a debris caution that put him back on the lead lap. He finished the stage second after Harvick took the lead from Kurt Busch on the final lap.
Overton's 400 results
- Kyle Busch
- Kyle Larson
- Kevin Harvick
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Clint Bowyer
- Erik Jones
- Denny Hamlin
- Joey Logano
- Brad Keselowski
- Alex Bowman
- Daniel Suarez
- Jamie McMurray
- Paul Menard
- Jimmie Johnson
- Ryan Newman
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Kurt Busch
- Ryan Blaney
- Chase Elliott
- William Byron
- Michael McDowell
- Chris Buescher
- Bubba Wallace
- AJ Allmendinger
- Aric Almirola
- Trevor Bayne
- Kasey Kahne
- Ty Dillon
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Ross Chastain
- Gray Gaulding
- Reed Sorenson
- Kyle Weatherman
- Corey LaJoie
- BJ McLeod
- Landon Cassill
- Austin Dillon
- David Ragan
- Timmy Hill
NASCAR Cup Series regular season standings
BOLD - indicates driver has clinched the NASCAR playoffs
Martin Truex Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stage 1: Trouble for Bowyer on pit road
Paul Menard started on the pole and immediately surrendered the lead to Penske-alliance teammate Ryan Blaney. As the No. 12 began leading comfortably, a determined Martin Truex Jr. began charging his way through the field after starting from the rear.
Around Lap 20, Clint Bowyer took the lead from Blaney as Truex cracked the top 15. Just a few laps later, Truex completed his run to the front by entering the top 10.
Truex got green flag pit stops going on Lap 37, one week after his team's strategy blew the field away at Sonoma. A couple laps later, Bowyer followed from the lead. Daniel Suarez's team got busted for crew members jumping over the wall too soon but the real penalty fell on Bowyer, who had to serve a pass-through penalty for speeding. Unfortunately for the No. 14 team, Bowyer sped while serving his penalty and had to serve another.
Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman stayed out longer than the field but eventually decided to pit with 20 to go, surrendering the lead to Aric Almirola. Kyle Larson moved into second while Truex ran third, but it was Almirola who drove on to take the green-and-white checkered.
Stage 1 results
- Aric Almirola (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
- Kyle Larson (9 points)
- Martin Truex Jr. (8 points)
- Kurt Busch (7 points)
- Kevin Harvick (6 points)
- Brad Keselowski (5 points)
- Ryan Blaney (4 points)
- Joey Logano (3 points)
- Chase Elliott (2 points)
- Erik Jones (1 point)
Stage 2: Stewart-Haas Racing remains dominant
Almirola took the green flag to start Stage 2 and was immediately tested by his teammate Harvick. Despite a strong run from the No. 4, Almirola was able to hold him off early and pace the field.
Larson fell out of the top 10 after losing power on pit road between stages, but that didn't last long. The No. 42 easily worked his way back into the top group early in Stage 2. Kyle Busch on the other hand, couldn't get much going and complained that his car was "plowing" throughout the race.
Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Truex got green flag pit stops going with 40 to go in the Stage as Almirola continued to lead Harvick. A few laps later, Harvick came down pit road a lap before Almirola and that proved to be the difference. As Almirola pulled back onto the track, he saw Harvick shoot in front of him for the lead.
Just before Harvick could begin building a lead, NASCAR threw the caution flag for debris. It was a big break for Bowyer, who stayed out in hopes of a caution and got back on the lead lap when the yellow flew.
Blaney took two tires as opposed to four on the stop and got out to a bit of a lead on the restart. The two tires proved not to be enough as Blaney surrendered the lead to Almirola. After leading a few laps, Almirola was forced to come down pit road with reports of a loose wheel that put Kurt Busch into the top spot.
Busch continued to lead as Harvick breathed down his neck towards the end of the stage. Almirola fell off the lead lap but put himself in position for the free pass while Bowyer recovered from earlier mishaps and worked his way back into the top 10.
Harvick finally made the pass on Almirola on the last lap of the stage to earn his series-leading ninth green-and-white checkered flag of the season.
THIS is what #NASCAR had in mind when they instituted stage racing. Look at this battle between teammates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick at the end of Stage 2. Harvick brings home his series-leading ninth green-and-white checkered flag of the year. pic.twitter.com/2kh3PZOrMG— Matthew Mayer (@MatthewMayerCBS) July 1, 2018
Stage 2 results
- Kevin Harvick (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
- Kurt Busch (9 points)
- Kyle Larson (8 points)
- Martin Truex Jr. (7 points)
- Ryan Blaney (6 points)
- Brad Keselowski (5 points)
- Chase Elliott (4 points)
- Clint Bowyer (3 points)
- Denny Hamlin (2 points)
- Joey Logano (1 point)
Final Stage: Kyle Busch figures it out
Harvick and Busch took the green flag to start the Final Stage, with the No. 41 getting the edge this time around. A few laps later, it was Larson entering the fold, going low and taking the lead from Busch as Harvick and Truex followed behind him.
Just as Harvick took the lead from Larson, Hamlin went for a spin in Turn 2 to bring out the caution. Logano won the race off pit road after taking two tires while Kyle Busch earned four positions. Similarly to earlier in the race, Suarez picked up a penalty however this time it was for speeding.
Brad Keselowski restarted from the lead after staying out while the others pitted. Logano quickly made a run at the lead in second, but forfeited that position to Harvick who then drove onto take the lead from Keselowski.
Once Harvick took the lead, he was absolutely gone, building and building his lead while Kyle Busch worked his way up to second. While Harvick dominated, Blaney was forced to come down pit road with a potential loose wheel which put him a lap down. Austin Dillon also saw some mechanical issues and had to bring his car to the garage.
Harvick continued to build his lead before Corey LaJoie hit the wall and brought out the caution. LaJoie not only tightened the field, but also helped Blaney by allowing him to obtain the free pass. However the biggest beneficiary was Kyle Busch, whose team did him a solid with a fast stop that gave him the lead on the restart.
Busch held the lead on the restart with Harvick close in the rearview. Almirola had rebounded nicely, working his way up to eighth, but a loose wheel sent him back down pit road and to the back of the pack yet again.
The battle then engaged between Busch and Harvick for the top spot. Harvick began trying every angle on the track to make the pass with Busch countering each time. As the battle waged out, Larson inched closer and closer to the leaders in third place.
With less than 20 to go, Larson caught Harvick and took second place with Busch in his sights. The No. 42 grazed the wall and it appeared he wouldn't be able to catch Busch, but lapped traffic allowed Larson to take the lead on the final lap. Unfortunately for Larson, Busch turned him coming out of Turn 3 to allow the No. 18 to earn his fifth win of the season.
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