The thrills of competition ended with spills of contact on the final lap between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson at Chicagoland Speedway. The two battled for the race lead in the final 25 laps of the Overton’s 400 and made contact in Turn 3 as Busch bumped Larson and went on to win for the fifth time of 2018 and second time at Chicagoland.
“You got problems if you don’t like that,” Busch said.
It was an edgy battle between Busch and Larson, as the latter came from more than three seconds back to catch the No. 18 for the lead. Running the high side, Larson hit the wall with eight laps to go and lost precious tenths of the second in the meantime.
However, a mishap with lapped traffic for Busch gave Larson one more shot entering Turn 1 on the white flag. Here, Larson hit Busch in the left-rear corner panel, ran side-by-side down the backstretch and was given similar treatment in Turn 3 from Busch.
Despite the spin, Larson managed to keep his car straight and come home second. And he wasn’t even mad about it.
“I had an opportunity there to slide in front of him,” Larson said. “I tried to get to his door and I opened the door for him to retaliate in Turn 3. I thought it was free game. I got into him first and he got me after that. Maybe a little worse than I got him. That’s alright, I love racing Kyle. That was a blast.”
Busch knew it “was on” after Larson’s bump in Turn 2.
“Larson was trying to pull a slider, didn’t quite complete it,” Busch said. “He slid up into me, used me. I used him as a brake getting into Turn 3 and was able to come back with the victory. When you start beating and banging doors, it’s fair game after that.
Starting 16th, Busch didn’t dominate the day. In fact, nobody did, as 10 drivers led the race with Aric Almirola leading the most at 70. The driver of the No. 10 led his first laps since the Daytona 500 and won stage one but unfortunately suffered two loose wheels throughout the day and finished 25th.
Kevin Harvick also led the race, leading 39 laps while winning stage two. Harvick was no match, however, for Larson and lost the second spot in the closing moments, finishing third.
Martin Truex Jr. came home fourth followed by fifth-place Clint Bowyer, who led early in his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 for 21 laps. His day was hurt when he was caught speeding on pit road on lap 46.
“You can gain second on pit road and obviously our speed was too fast,” Bowyer said. “It was just confusion on my part, cost us. You hate to give away those stage points.”
The day’s 24 lead changes were the second most in track history and tied for the most on a non-plate track in 2018.
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