Rating the Race: Chicago - Lifelock.com 400
Image details: LifeLock.com 400 served by picapp.com
Kyle Busch continued his dominating run over the Sprint Cup Series Saturday night as he picked up his series-leading 7th win of the season by taking the checkers in the Lifelock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL. After rain cancelled Friday’s qualifying session, Busch was awarded the pole position due to leading the championship points standings, and that proved to be invaluable as he led the first 44 laps of the race en route to setting a new track record by leading a total of 165 laps, erasing the previous record set by Tony Stewart.
After a competition caution on lap 35 brought the field together, Carl Edwards passed Busch for the lead on lap 45, but then surrendered the lead just a few laps later when Denny Hamlin brought out the caution as he fell off the pace due to issues with his ignition box. While Edwards and most of the other race leaders came into pit, five cars remained out on the track, including Jeff Gordon who was then scored as the race leader, and also Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers, and Ryan Newman who were able to use the track position to their advantage for the rest of the evening. Biffle took the lead from Gordon on lap 57 and held onto until the five cars that stayed out had to pit around lap 92, at which time Tony Stewart became the new race leader.
The rest of the field started cycling through their green flag stops around lap 100, and many cars had costly stops, including Kurt Busch who was penalized for too fast entering pit road, and Travis Kvapil who was penalized for hitting the commitment cone as he entered pit road. Both drivers were forced to make pass-through penalties, and both found themselves a lap down following the incidents.
Greg Biffle re-assumed command of the race after the pit stops finally cycled their way through, but a caution on lap 112 involving Patrick Carpentier, Michael Waltrip, and Jeff Burton erased the lead. Seeing the strategy that some of the other drivers used earlier in the race, four more drivers stayed out on the track, and Matt Kenseth led the race for the first time. Kyle Busch, David Ragan, and AJ Allmendinger also stayed out.
Kurt Busch was able to drive his way ahead of the leaders on the restart to get back onto the lead lap, and then some of the best racing of the evening came when Kenseth and Kyle Busch raced each other side-by-side for several laps until Kenseth finally gave way on lap 120, and then was forced to pit four laps later when he had a tire going down. The pit stop put Matt a lap down to the race leaders, but he later gained that back when a caution came out on lap 177 for debris and he was awarded the lucky dog.
Carl Edwards made his way back to the front when he passed Kyle Busch for the lead on lap 203, but the troubles continued for the Roush-Fenway Racing bunch when he pitted on lap 208. He had originally thought that he also had a tire going down, but it was later determined that he had broken a splitter, causing the handling on his car to go away. He was able to get back out on the track, though he was stuck a lap down and was never able to recover. About the same time, Kurt Busch watched all the progress he’d made in recovering from the earlier penalty on pit road go away as his car dropped a cylinder, sending him all the way back to the tail end of the lead lap.
Kyle Busch re-assumed the lead after the Edwards pit stop, and remained up front until Jimmie Johnson challenged him for the lead with just 17 laps to go. Johnson won the battle and appeared to be poised for his second win of the season as he pulled away from the field until David Gilliland’s engine blew up 11 laps later, bringing out the ninth and final caution of the day, and also setting the field up for a 2-lap shootout.
Johnson had already proven that he had the most dominant car of all those in position for the win, so Kyle Busch knew that the only way to get to him was to get him on the restart, and that’s exactly what he did. He timed the restart perfectly as he clung to Johnson’s rear bumper and was able to pull up next to him going through turns 1 and 2. He made the pass on the no. 48 car on the high side and then pulled down in front of him.
Johnson hung with him, though, as Kyle took the white flag with Kevin Harvick also hanging tough in third right behind Johnson. He made one last attempt to pass Kyle going through the final turns, but Johnson overdrove the corner and got loose, securing the win for the no. 18 team. Johnson went onto finish 2nd, and Harvick wound up 3rd.
Greg Biffle’s race strategy paid off as he finished in 4th, and after a long week in the spotlight, Tony Stewart came home in 5th. The no. 83 Red Bull Racing team of Brian Vickers also used some strategy in the pits, and they were able to walk away with a 6th place finish. Matt Kenseth ran out of time in his charge back up to the front of the field, but still managed to salvage a 7th place effort. David Ragan finished in 8th. Martin Truex Jr. found the good run that he desperately needed and crossed the line in 9th, and Ryan Newman’s strategy paid off as well, as he rounded out the top-ten finishers.
Jeff Gordon’s bid for a second Chicagoland victory came up short as he finished just outside of the top-ten in 11th ….. Elliott Sadler and AJ Allmendinger both had good runs going, but dropped outside of the top-ten in the closing laps as they wound up in 12th and 13th ….. Kasey Kahne recorded the best Chicagoland finish in his career as he finished 15th ….. Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a disappointing run. After starting the race in 2nd, he wound up 16th ….. Kurt Busch wound up 28th, and Carl Edwards was 30th.
For Kyle Busch, this was his third win in the last four races, being trumped only by older brother Kurt’s win at New Hampshire. It was also his seventh Sprint Cup victory of the season, which will equate to 35 bonus points when the series enters the Chase for the Cup in October. He has now also opened up an astounding 262 point lead in the standings over second place Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The top six spots in the standings remained unchanged, but there was quite a bit of shakeup in the bottom half of the top-12. Greg Biffle moved up four spots to 7th, and his Roush teammate, Matt Kenseth, also continues to gain ground as he moved up a spot to 8th. Kevin Harvick made his way back inside the Chase field, as he moved from 13th to 9th, and Tony Stewart is a little more comfortable now in 10th. Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin are now on the bubble in 11th and 12th, and Clint Bowyer has dropped outside of the top-12 as he now sits 27 points out in 13th.
the Race: 85%
the Drama: 93%
Overall Grade: 87.8%
Complete Results (from nascar.com):
|3||13||29||Kevin Harvick||Chevrolet||Shell / Pennzoil||165/0||267||Running|
|5||12||20||Tony Stewart||Toyota||The Home Depot||160/5||267||Running|
|6||15||83||Brian Vickers||Toyota||Red Bull||155/5||267||Running|
|7||9||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||USG Sheetrock||151/5||267||Running|
|8||14||6||David Ragan||Ford||AAA Insurance||142/0||267||Running|
|9||19||1||Martin Truex Jr.||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops / Cub Cadet||143/5||267||Running|
|10||17||12||Ryan Newman||Dodge||Kodak / The Mummy||134/0||267||Running|
|11||6||24||Jeff Gordon||Chevrolet||Nicorette / DuPont||135/5||267||Running|
|12||26||19||Elliott Sadler||Dodge||Best Buy / Garmin||127/0||267||Running|
|13||39||84||A.J. Allmendinger||Toyota||Red Bull||124/0||267||Running|
|16||2||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||AMP Energy / National Guard||115/0||267||Running|
|17||16||8||Mark Martin||Chevrolet||U.S. Army||112/0||267||Running|
|18||22||42||Juan Montoya||Dodge||Juicy Fruit Slim Pack||109/0||267||Running|
|19||3||31||Jeff Burton||Chevrolet||AT&T Mobility||106/0||267||Running|
|20||38||66||Scott Riggs||Chevrolet||Haas Automation||103/0||267||Running|
|21||24||26||Jamie McMurray||Ford||Crown Royal||100/0||267||Running|
|22||10||07||Clint Bowyer||Chevrolet||Jack Daniel’s||97/0||267||Running|
|24||40||96||J.J. Yeley||Toyota||DLP HDTV||91/0||267||Running|
|25||31||7||Robby Gordon||Dodge||Jim Beam / Sa
|26||27||15||Paul Menard||Chevrolet||Quaker State / Menards||85/0||267||Running|
|27||43||70||Jason Leffler||Chevrolet||Haas Automation||82/0||267||Running|
|28||18||2||Kurt Busch||Dodge||Miller Lite||84/5||267||Running|
|29||20||43||Bobby Labonte||Dodge||Cheerios Betty Crocker / Richard Petty’s 50th||76/0||267||Running|
|30||42||10||Patrick Carpentier *||Dodge||LifeLock||73/0||265||Running|
|31||32||41||Reed Sorenson||Dodge||Target / Maxwell House||70/0||265||Running|
|32||4||99||Carl Edwards||Ford||Office Depot “Taking Care of Business”||72/5||265||Running|
|33||25||5||Casey Mears||Chevrolet||CARQUEST / Kellogg’s||64/0||265||Running|
|34||33||01||Regan Smith *||Chevrolet||DEI / Principal Financial Group||61/0||265||Running|
|35||37||21||Bill Elliott||Ford||U.S. Air Force||58/0||265||Running|
|36||28||55||Michael Waltrip||Toyota||NAPA AUTO PARTS||55/0||264||Running|
|37||35||77||Sam Hornish Jr. *||Dodge||Mobil 1||52/0||263||Running|
|38||36||45||Terry Labonte||Dodge||Marathon American Spirit / Richard Petty’s 50th||49/0||263||Running|
|39||41||78||Joe Nemechek||Chevrolet||Furniture Row Racing||46/0||263||Running|
|40||7||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Express||43/0||262||Running|
|43||34||00||Michael McDowell *||Toyota||Champion Mortgage||34/0||258||Running|
Sprint Cup Series Standings (from nascar.com):
|RANK||+/-||DRIVER||POINTS||BEHIND||STARTS||POLES||WINS||TOP 5||TOP 10|
|2||–||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||2619||-262||19||1||1||7||12|
|17||+1||Martin Truex Jr.||2050||-831||19||0||0||2||6|
|33||–||Sam Hornish Jr.*||1422||-1459||19||0||0||0||0|
- Live on Type Delay: Chicago (RevJim’s Rants ‘n’ Raves)
- Race Wrapup: Lifelock.com 400 at Chicago (Restrictor Plate This)