Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Aric Almirola of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):
● Kyle Buschstarted 16th and finished 12th.
● It was all business for Busch to start the Overton’s 400 as he quietly logged laps. He was in 12th place by lap seven and spent several laps trying different lanes to try and pick up speed around the 1.5-mile oval.
● Busch made his first appearance in the top-10 on lap 35 as a number of teams elected to start making green-flag pit stops. The No. 18 Skittles America Mix team followed suit, making a stop on lap 41 for air pressure adjustments, four tires and fuel.
● Because a number of teams elected to wait to make pit stops, Busch found himself a little farther back in the running order. He was in 16th on lap 54 and 13th by lap 60.
● As Stage 1 came to a close, Busch reported that while in-car adjustments had helped a little with the tight handling issue, it was still too tight, so he was just hanging on at the conclusion of the stage. He said the car was very tight and that he needed more grip.
● Busch finished Stage 1 in 12th place. At the conclusion the team made a number of changes including chassis and air pressure adjustments. The crew added some tape to the nose of the grill, changed four tires and added fuel.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-160):
● Started 12th and finished 11th.
● Busch made the most of having the field bunched back up for the start of Stage 2, jumping up into the top-10 in ninth place within the first lap. He was shuffled back to the 12th position during the next few laps, and he quickly reported that the Skittles America Mix Toyota was still handling on the tight side and “plowing, plowing, plowing.”
● Green-flag pit stops started taking place on lap 119, with the majority of the field making stops during the course of four laps. Busch made his own stop for adjustments, four tires and fuel on lap 120. He was back in 12th place when stops cycled through on lap 123.
● During the next run the adjustments the team had been making started taking effect, but the result wound up being too far to the loose side. Busch noted that the car was sideways loose during a caution on lap 128. The team elected to set the trackbar back to baseline during a trip to pit road along with changing four tires and adding fuel.
● The 2015 Cup Series champion restarted the race in 13th place and made it to 11th by the time Stage 2 concluded.
● When the stage ended Busch said the car was just still too tight. The team made a handful of changes during the break, changed four tires and added fuel.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 161-267):
● Started 10th and finished first.
● Busch was riding in 10th place when a caution for teammate Denny Hamlin was displayed on lap 176. Everyone came to pit road for fresh tires. A fast pit stop by the Skittles America Mix pit crew moved Busch from ninth place to sixth for the restart.
● The Las Vegas native took advantage of the restart, jumping into the top-five within the first lap. He then set off picking up positions and was in second place by lap 193.
● After the caution flag waved on lap 207, Busch came down pit road for four tires and fuel. The pit crew knocked off another fast stop, which enabled Busch to win the race off pit road and take over the top spot on lap 210.
● Busch was challenged on the final lap by a hard charging Kyle Larson, but prevailed to earn his fifth victory of the season.
● Busch won the Overton’s 400 to score his 48th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in 479 races, his fifth of the season and his second at Chicago. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Larson was 1.162 seconds.
● Busch led one time, for a total of 59 laps.
● The Skittles America Mix driver scored his first win at Chicago in 2008, when the race was also contested in July.
● Busch tied NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker’s 48 wins to tie for 14th on the all-time wins list.
● Busch now has 190 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (48), Xfinity (92) and Truck (50).
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles America Mix Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“Great win for the Skittles America Mix Camry and all of these guys. We were horrible today. Absolutely horrendous. We just never gave up. It’s always good to make the most of the days and get to where we needed at the end. I was able to lead all of those laps and get through the rest of the traffic. It was a race between Larson and I. We raced each other, and it was fair game after that. That’s how it goes sometimes. Proud to get us another win here in Chicago. It’s been a long time. Pretty cool, going to victory lane. Can’t thank Skittles and Interstate Batteries enough, NOS Energy Drink, Toyota, Cessna, Rheem, Stanley, Black Cover and everyone. They work so hard.”
Tell us about the last lap with you and Larson
“It was a lot more hectic than I wanted it to be. Those lapped cars just got in our way and slowed us down so much that we just had no momentum. Finally I got through a couple of them. Larson just threw a dart there in Turn 1 and 2 and tried to pull a slide job. I don’t think he was close enough. He didn’t get enough clear on me to be able to slide. And when he got to me, he throttled up and drove us in the wall. And going down the backstretch, I lost all of my momentum. I tried to side-draft him as much as I could to keep him alongside of me. He cleared me and I gave him what he gave me back into Turn 3 and 4. And I was able to come back and get ahead. Adam Stevens did a great job today and turned this into something we could go race with at the end. My pit crew did a great job as well and really put us in a good position during the last run.”
How did all of the external factors play into your car today?
“It all did. Track position was huge. That was the biggest benefactor. All of us working on it as well was huge, too. We came a long ways with the balance of this thing. A couple of pit stops we said, let’s just sit here and work on it. Guys didn’t actually lose a lot of time or positions. We were able to get it where we needed it. Out front and got the lead, we took control of the race. We were able to hold off Harvick and Larson had a charge. He was coming but you have to pass a guy to win the race. You can’t drive through a guy to win the race. We did what we needed to do to get our Skittles America Mix Camry in Victory Lane.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, July 7 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The race starts at 7 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC.