In A Nutshell: The mighty Casey didn't strike out this time! Casey Mears has seen victory slip away in both the Cup and Busch Series time after time, including an especially heartbreaking loss at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May on a failed fuel mileage gamble, but this time the same gamble paid off and Mears finally scored his first career Busch Series win at Chicagoland Speedway. Mears and crew chief Brad Parrot opted to pit for the last time on lap 130 and then stayed on track to take the lead when the rest of the leaders pitted on lap 163. Once in the clean air out front, Mears ran out to a two-second lead. Then it became a fuel mileage race as Mears tried to conserve as much as possible while Carl Edwards, dominant for much of the day, did his best to run him down. Mears used both his two-second cushion and every last drop of fuel in his tank to stay in front of Edwards, who had to settle for second. Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five finishers.
Who Should Have Won: If anyone is ever owed a win, it was probably Casey Mears, but Carl Edwards has to be stinging a bit over the loss after being one of the dominant drivers all day. Edwards and Kurt Busch spent the day swapping the lead while no one else could get near them. Busch fell out of contention after going with the wrong strategy, clearing the way for Edwards to win until Mears and company outsmarted him. Edwards was left hoping his rival would run out of fuel as Mears showed unexpected strength up front.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend
1) Was this even a Busch race?
With the highest Busch regulars mired mostly outside of the top 15 all day, I barely recall even seeing them.
2) If the Cup drivers are supposed to be some of the best in the world, why did they bring out the first two cautions?
Apparently the hard, slick tires took a little getting used to and were a little slippery for a few laps. Yet isn't it funny that the first caution on the first lap involved Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, and Kyle Busch and the second was Kyle Busch again? The Busch regular drivers and rookies were out there on the same tires and they weren't sliding into each other. It's just an observationâ€¦
3) Why was Kyle Busch allowed to run with a missing number?
It would help if I could check the rules, but if I'm not mistaken, I thought cars on the track had to display roof and door numbers at all times. Meaning if a patch is put on a door, the number has to be on it. Busch's crew riveted a big metal patch on the right side door, completely obscuring the number that had been there without replacing it.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
Not the best week for the Busch regulars. The highest finisher was Johnny Sauter with a 17th place result and that's about the best anyone did all day. Paul Menard was the highest running Busch regular much of the day in about the 16th position until he was eliminated in an accident. Todd Kluever was the best freshman of the day and followed Sauter home in the 18th spot.
In spite of yet another points penalty to chip away at his total, Kevin Harvick remains the leader by 323 points over second place Carl Edwards. Clint Bowyer remains third, 382 points in arrears. Denny Hamlin, J.J. Yeley, Greg Biffle, Paul Menard, and Kyle Busch remain fourth through eighth in a quiet week for the top ten. The only change took place at the final spots as Johnny Sauter and Kenny Wallace trade places with Sauter moving up to ninth and Wallace falling back to tenth.
Buschwhackers in this race: 21
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 277 of 815
Buschwhackers finishing in top ten: 10
Buschwhackers finishing in top ten YTD: 139 of 190
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 17 of 19
Buschwhackers ranked in top ten of Busch Series points standings: 7
"I should have practiced getting on pit road on Friday. It just really came up on me. I, obviously, take all the blame." David Gilliland in reference to a penalty for speeding on pit road that mired his team two laps down
"We hit the wall there in practice yesterday and tore it all to pieces. It looked like everything was good to go there for the race. We just couldn't ever get it to handle right there in the race. It never would turn. I don't know if something is bent or what. It's just a long day." Danny O'Quinn
"Apparently, the 36 either he has no mirrors or he has no spotter because he just decided to turn left at the exit of turn 2 and ran right into me and spun me out. I don't know what he was thinking but he definitely didn't give me my car width, that's for sure. I hit pretty hard but I'm okay. It probably destroyed the car. That's all we need, to be running not very good and have a junk racecar on top of it." Tracy Hines
Next Up: Fire up the lobsters, the Busch boys are coming to New England! The New England 200 from New Hampshire International Speedway will air at 3:00 PM ET on TNT on Saturday afternoon, July 15th.
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