NASCAR finally got the race they so desperately needed to turn the most mundane season in decades around. Sunday at Chicagoland was the exact 1.5-mile race every track builder in the late 1990’s envisioned when they built these cookie cutter tracks. Multiple leaders, passing, tire wear, multiple grooves and a finish that will be replayed for decades.
Last season there were only 12 lead changes in the race at Chicagoland. On Sunday that number was doubled to 24 resulting in everyone raving about the quality of the on-track product they just saw.
On Sunday there were eight drivers who led double-digit laps. Aric Almirola led a race-high 70 laps en route to a 25th place finish thanks to two loose wheels. While I was processing how to deal with Almirola being a legitimate contender Kyle Busch took a “plowing, plowing, plowing” race car and turned it into a contender.
Finally, for really the first time all year, NASCAR fans were treated to Kyle Busch v. Kevin Harvick. The two fastest drivers all season finally went head to head against each other. As they battle with each other Kyle Larson was running the highest of high lines catching them quick as the laps counted down.
Kevin Harvick started to fade late and put up no fight when Larson caught him. It was a savvy veteran move to let Larson go by unattested. Harvick’s thought process had to be let the #42 chase down the #18 and potentially take the win away from him. And Larson almost did just that.
The Finish NASCAR Desperately Needed
In a season dominated by three drivers and mundane racing, the sport needed something exciting to happen desperately. Their wish was granted on Sunday as Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch delivered a 30-second clip of promo material for the next 4 years.
Kyle Larson throws the “SLIDE JOB, SLIDE JOB” as Dale Jr so emphatically yelled on the NBC broadcast as it happened live. That slide job didn’t quite stick and he put the #18 into the wall. As the two gathered themselves they stayed in the throttle and drag raced down the curved backstretch the #42 pulled Busch into turn 3.
As the cars entered turn 3 Larson had a car length advantage on the bottom. He seemingly forgot Kyle Busch was behind him who promptly laid the bumped to his sending Larson into his best dirt track/Tokyo Drift impression that resulted in a second place finish. Busch bounced off the wall but was able to gather it up quicker than Larson for the win.
While it was a member of the big three (don’t sue me Ice Cube, you got that Friday money, chill) that won, the finish will overshadow that. NASCAR needed this like they needed the Watkins Glen finish from a few years back, they needed something exciting to happen.
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