For the second year in a row NASCAR’s Cup race at Chicagoland did not disappoint. Last year it was a last lap battle between Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch which resulted in the famous “slide job” call. A call that was definitely not overused this weekend as NBC returned to the sport, in fact we hardly heard it for the first 12 seconds of the broadcast.
This year we didn’t have a famous call, in fact we didn’t have a last lap pass. What we did have though was a really good battle for the lead in the closing laps. A duel between Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman which ultimately saw Bowman grab his first Cup Series win while relegating Larson to the bridesmaid once again.
What we saw in terms of the on-track product was really good. We always say it doesn’t matter what the numbers are if you enjoyed what you saw on TV. Sunday was potentially the first time this season where everyone left with a positive feeling towards what they saw and the numbers backed that up.
Sunday’s race featured the most green flag passes and the most quality passes since 2014. It also featured the closest margin of victory, most leaders and trailed only last season for most lead changes. Essentially they were the same race in terms of cautions and strategy.
Perhaps the biggest contributing factor to Sunday’s race was tire fall off and two distinct racing lines. Each 1.5-mile track this season hasn’t featured a line against the wall as prevalent as the one at Chicago. This was the best case scenario for a 1.5-mile track this year as well. Cooler temperatures, a transition to night racing, combined with two distinct lanes. And maybe, just maybe, teams have figure out how to set their cars up finally.
For the first time since Talladega we have to say the new package worked. There are still tweaks to be made but if this is the package we’re stuck with they’re making it better.
Having said that, give us open horsepower and throttle management.
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