Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
SHR Race Finish:
● Kevin Harvick (Started 4th, Finished 10th / Running, completed 243 of 243 laps)
● Ryan Preece (Started 29th, Finished 17th / Running, completed 243 of 243 laps)
● Aric Almirola (Started 24th, Finished 19th / Running, completed 243 of 243 laps)
● Chase Briscoe (Started 25th, Finished 34th / Running, completed 193 of 243 laps)
● Kevin Harvick (3rd with 473 points, 22 out of first)
● Aric Almirola (25th with 251 points, 244 out of first)
● Ryan Preece (27th with 245 points, 250 out of first)
● Chase Briscoe (31st with 175 points, 320 out of first)
● Harvick made his 805th career NASCAR Cup Series start on Sunday when he took the green flag at Gateway, tying NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for ninth all-time. Harvick is on track to finish the year with 826 career starts, which will put him eighth all-time. He’s part of an impressive lineup that includes Richard Petty (1,185 starts), Ricky Rudd (906), Terry Labonte (890), Dave Marcis (883), Mark Martin (882), Kyle Petty (829), Bill Elliott (828), Darrell Waltrip (809) and Gordon (805). At age 47, Harvick was the fifth-youngest driver to make 800 starts.
● Harvick earned his seventh top-10 of the season and his first top-10 in two career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Gateway.
● This was Harvick’s fourth straight finish of 11th or better, a run highlighted by a second-place drive May 14 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
● Harvick finished sixth in Stage 1 to earn five bonus points and eighth in Stage 2 to earn three more bonus points.
● This was Preece’s third straight top-20. He finished 15th at Darlington and 13th in the series’ prior race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
● Kyle Busch won the Enjoy Illinois 300 to score his 63rd career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his first at Gateway. His margin over second-place Denny Hamlin was .517 of a second.
● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 67 laps.
● Twenty-eight of the 36 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Ryan Blaney leaves Gateway as the new championship leader with a 13-point advantage over second-place William Byron.
“That was a really long day. I fought a tight racecar all day long and every time we came down pit road, my guys made really strong adjustments. It just wasn’t enough to get us to the front and stay there. There were so many cautions there at the end, I was just trying to save the car. Overall, it wasn’t a terrible day for us after qualifying 29th. The fans were out in full force today, too. That was awesome to see. We’ve just got to keep grinding for better finishes.” – Ryan Preece, driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang
“We battled handing issues all day and just couldn’t find it. We were loose to start the day and it felt like our car was tight on aero and loose mechanically. Our long-run speed was really all we had today and we could pass cars late in the run, but we had so many cautions in the final stage we didn’t have the chance to run those cars down. Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) put me on offense on the last 20 laps with fresh tires and I thought we could’ve driven up to 15th, but someone missed a shift on the last restart and stacked us up and put us behind. Just one of those days. We had to battle to get all we could get.” – Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Save Mart 350k on Sunday, June 11 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The race begins at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.