In a Nutshell: Buschwhacking Cup regulars dominated the USG Durock 300, leading all but four laps of the race and taking nine of the top 10 finishing positions. Denny Hamlin was strong early in the event, but a problem getting onto pit road and a dead battery knocked him from contention. Kyle Busch dominated the second half of the race until the caution flag flew for a spin by Aric Almirola with 34 laps to go. Busch’s team made a decision to come to pit road for tires while the cars of Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer stayed out. Busch restarted the race eighth but was only able to make up three positions by race’s end. Harvick took the lead with 27 laps to go and held off the charge of Kenseth over the last 10 laps to become the first repeat Busch Series winner at Chicagoland. Kenseth placed second – crossing the line 1.012 seconds behind Harvick – followed by Richard Childress Racing teammates Burton and Bowyer. Busch placed fifth, with Paul Menard, Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Dave Blaney and Stephen Leicht rounding out the top 10.
Who Should Have Won: Busch. Busch was the strongest car in the second half of the race. He led 58 laps, the most of any competitor, and was in the lead when the caution flag flew with 34 laps to go. Busch came in the pits while most of the other front running cars stayed on the track. Busch restarted in the eighth position and was unable to make it back to the front, finishing the race in fifth place.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After The Race This Weekend
1) Has a jet dryer ever exploded?
Before the race even started this weekend, one of the jet dryers began spewing fuel onto the track and had a significant fire following it down the track. It is interesting that you never hear about a jet dryer exploding. NASCAR will certainly be looking at the incident and hopefully making sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.
2) Is Chicagoland finally becoming a track that offers great racing?
Chicagoland is one of the new “cookie-cutter” tracks on the circuit and has been maligned for years for not offering good racing because of the lack of multiple grooves. After the Busch race this weekend, it appears as though the track has aged enough that a second groove is definitely an option, and the resulting racing seems to be just what the fans of the Busch Series love to see.
3) Why do the Busch teams refuse to run two batteries in their cars?
It seems like most of the teams in the Cup Series run two batteries in their cars but, for whatever reason, the Busch teams seem to be adamant about only running one. There have been multiple instances this year of teams having alternator problems, and ultimately having to replace their battery during the race. With the teams having to put lead on the side of the car to meet minimum weight anyway, they should be able to run a second battery and avoid having to change them out during the race.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
- Hamlin was strong early, but a pit miscue and dead battery hampered his day. When he lost the handle on the car after his last pit stop, that prevented him from competing for a win.
- In his first race in the No. 88 Navy Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, Brad Keselowski finished 14th and was the highest finishing rookie.
- Carl Edwards continues to lead the driver standings following the USG Durock 300, but lost quite a few points when his team left a wheel loose on the last pit stop of the race. Forced to come back in for service, Edwards’s pit crew lost a tire out of the pit box, resulting in a pass-through penalty. Edwards lost two laps in the exchange and finished the race in the 20th position. He now leads Harvick by 716 points.
- Leicht’s 10th-place finish moved him up to eighth place in the driver standings and was the highest among the Busch Series regulars. Battling to be the highest Busch Series regular in points, Leicht is now 97 markers behind Jason Leffler and just 59 behind Bobby Hamilton Jr.
Buschwhackers in the race: 24
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 372 of 813
Buschwhackers finishing in the Top 10: 9
Buschwhackers finishing in the Top 10 YTD: 151 of 200
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 18 of 20
Buschwhackers ranked in the Top 10 in Busch Series points standings: 6
“We were off for most of the weekend, we changed a lot of stuff before qualifying and kept working on it all day. We were there at the end when it counted and that is just a tribute to this team.” – Kevin Harvick
“I don’t know what we’ll do to change that, I guess we only have four months to worry about it.” – Kyle Busch on how he will work on the decision making with Alan Gustafson at the end of races going forward.
“We just didn’t get the kind of race we needed. We were strong on the long runs and the caution at the end really hurt us.” – Jeff Burton
Next Up: The Busch Series travels to the St. Louis area for the Gateway 250 next week. The race will be on Saturday, July 21st at 8:00 p.m. and will be available on ESPN2 and MRN.