Kyle Busch won the Overton's 400 on Sunday, his fifth win of the season, but there are other implications from the race as well. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Sunday's race at Chicagoland Speedway:
1. Best race of the year gets a finish to match
NASCAR fans can debate and discuss which race has been this season's best, but there's no doubt it was Sunday's thriller in the Midwest. There was an afternoon-long battle for the lead, with no one driver ever truly taking control — that includes at the finish. With about 20 laps to go, Kyle Larson in second place had the fastest car on the track ... and the unenviable job of trying to chase down Kyle Busch from first place. And he did it! Only when Larson finally caught Busch midway through the last lap, he made a small mistake. Larson nudged Busch, but not hard enough to knock him off course. Busch then let Larson pass a little before coming back and bumping him back, similarly to how he won at Bristol earlier this season. Larson spun, Busch won, and the crowd went nuts — that is the high-intensity finish this race deserved.
2. Missed opportunities abound for playoff hopefuls
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Busch may have held first place crossing the finish line, but he was far from the only driver to lead on Sunday. Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Larson – they all led at some point Sunday before falling back off the lead. Bowyer had two speeding penalties in the span of five minutes in Stage One, blowing his shot at a third win this year. Almirola led more laps Sunday than in eight of his 10 prior Cup seasons, but a loose wheel led to an unplanned pit stop that also cost him his chance. Harvick, Keselowski, Blaney and Larson all had their moments too, but small hiccups and failures to seize the lead ultimately left them all outside of Victory Lane.
3. If anyone is going to challenge the Big 3, it's...
Larson, without a doubt. He may only be ninth in the points standings after Sunday's race, but he has shown the most top-end speed and potential to win outside of Busch, Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. Larson now has a maddening four second-place finishes in 17 races this year, having lost two of those to Busch. It would be a stretch for Larson to equal or top his four wins from last year this late in the season, but he's certainly due for a win anytime soon. And in the playoffs, Larson finishes well at several of the tracks. He's still outside the bubble and looking in, but if anyone is a favorite to join the Big 3 in the championship at Homestead in November, it has to be Larson.
Chicagoland Overton’s 400
The full race results, from the Associated Press:
Chicagoland Overton’s 400
Sunday At Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill.
Lap length: 1.5 miles
(Starting position in parentheses)
1. (16) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267.
2. (18) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 267.
3. (11) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 267.
4. (36) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 267.
5. (5) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 267.
6. (9) Erik Jones, Toyota, 267.
7. (37) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267.
8. (12) Joey Logano, Ford, 267.
9. (7) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267.
10. (15) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 267.
11. (10) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 267.
12. (13) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 267.
13. (1) Paul Menard, Ford, 267.
14. (38) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 267.
15. (17) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 267.
16. (20) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 266.
17. (4) Kurt Busch, Ford, 266.
18. (2) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 266.
19. (3) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 266.
20. (8) William Byron, Chevrolet, 266.
21. (26) Michael McDowell, Ford, 266.
22. (39) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 266.
23. (22) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 266.
24. (19) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 266.
25. (6) Aric Almirola, Ford, 266.
26. (21) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 265.
27. (24) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 264.
28. (25) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 264.
29. (28) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 262.
30. (27) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 261.
31. (29) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 260.
32. (34) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 259.
33. (30) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 255.
34. (32) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 233.
35. (33) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 227.
36. (31) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 224.
37. (14) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Wheel Hub, 189.
38. (23) David Ragan, Ford, 189.
39. (35) Timmy Hill, Toyota, Oil Cooler, 185.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 140.636 mph.
Time of Race: 2 hours, 50 minutes, 52 seconds. Margin of Victory: 1.875 seconds.
Caution Flags: 5 for 23 laps.
Lead Changes: 24 among 10 drivers.
Lap Leaders: R. Blaney 1-16; C. Bowyer 17; R. Blaney 18; C. Bowyer 19-38; B. Keselowski 39-46; A. Dillon 47-59; A. Almirola 60-86; K. Harvick 87; A. Almirola 88-122; K. Harvick 123-128; A. Almirola 129; R. Newman 130-132; R. Blaney 133-134; A. Almirola 135-141; Kurt Busch 142-159; K. Harvick 160-162; K. Larson 163; K. Harvick 164-167; Kurt Busch 168-169; K. Larson 170-175; K. Harvick 176-177; B. Keselowski 178-185; K. Harvick 186-208; Kyle Busch 209-267.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): A. Almirola 4 times for 70 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 59 laps; K. Harvick 6 times for 39 laps; C. Bowyer 2 times for 21 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 20 laps; R. Blaney 3 times for 19 laps; B. Keselowski 2 times for 16 laps; A. Dillon 1 time for 13 laps; K. Larson 2 times for 7 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 3 laps.