Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth were certainly fast, and during the final 25-lap run to the finish of the 26th race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season, the battle certainly became furious. When the dust settled, Busch was able to best Kenseth and win the Furious 7 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, his 74th career NXS victory.
After the fifth and final restart of the race with 53 laps to go, Kenseth was able to pass Brian Scott for the race lead and extend the gap over the rest of the field. Busch would eventually catch his teammate and with 25 laps to go, the two were side-by-side for the lead. Busch completed the pass with two laps later and it appeared that it was over, but lap traffic with less than five laps remaining cost Busch time, and Kenseth pounced. A bold dive-bomb going into turn 3 got the No. 20 car the lead momentarily, but Busch was able to pass him back and take the checkered flag first.
“That dive-bomb was crazy,” Busch said after the race. “I heard inside and I thought it was the [No.] 25 [of John Wes Townley]. Then I saw a black car, and I was like ‘oh, we’ll see how this goes’.”
It went well for Busch. Not so much for Kenseth, who hit the wall in turn 4.
“The best car didn’t win tonight, but the best driver did,” a somewhat dejected Kenseth stated. “Kyle just did a better job of driving than I did.”
After the race, Busch’s No. 54 Toyota was found to be too low in all four corners in post-race technical inspection. The car will be taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center in North Carolina for further inspection. Any penalties that are assessed will be announced next week.
Darrell Wallace Jr., who was able to make it to the finish without running out of fuel, finished third for his best career NXS result. Paul Menard, in his final NXS start of the season, finished fourth, with his Richard Childress Racing teammate Ty Dillon finishing fifth. The fifth-place finish for Dillon moved him back into second in points, 25 points behind Chris Buescher, who finished seventh.
Following the race Buescher’s disappointment was clear.
“Seventh is not necessarily successful… we need to be running top five,” Buescher stated. “We want to compete for more wins this year.”
The third driver in the championship battle, defending series champion Chase Elliott, finished a disappointing 14th after collecting his first win of the season one week ago at Richmond. Elliott is now third in points, 28 behind Buescher.
Ryan Blaney, piloting the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske, had a night he will probably want to forget. He brought out the first caution of the race on lap 22 when his left-rear tire blew, damaging the left rear of his car. Contact with the wall in turn 4, which brought out the third caution of the race on lap 103, effectively ended his night. He would finish 35th and lose substantial ground to the No. 54 in the owners’ championship battle.
The Xfinity Series will return to Kentucky Speedway next weekend for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300. Brad Keselowski went to Victory Lane when the series was at the 1.5 mile track in July. The race can be seen on Saturday, Sep. 26 at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.