Rating the Race: Chicago - Lifelock.com 400

July 13, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

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.

Other Notables:
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.

Grades:
the Race: 85%
the Drama: 93%
Coverage: 86%
Pre-Race: 95%

Overall Grade: 87.8%

Complete Results (from nascar.com):

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 1 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M’s 195/10 267 Running
2 5 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe’s 175/5 267 Running
3 13 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 165/0 267 Running
4 11 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 165/5 267 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
14 29 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 121/0 267 Running
15 8 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 118/0 267 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
23 30 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 94/0 267 Running
24 40 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 91/0 267 Running
25 31 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam / Sa
veOurName.com
88/0 267 Running
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
41 21 28 Travis Kvapil Ford FreeCreditRep
ort.com
40/0 260 Running
42 23 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditRep
ort.com
37/0 259 In Pit
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
1 Kyle Busch 2881 Leader 19 2 7 12 13
2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2619 -262 19 1 1 7 12
3 Jeff Burton 2590 -291 19 0 1 4 10
4 Carl Edwards 2509 -372 19 0 3 7 13
5 Jimmie Johnson 2494 -387 19 1 1 5 9
6 Jeff Gordon 2384 -497 19 2 0 7 8
7 +4 Greg Biffle 2318 -563 19 2 0 6 8
8 +1 Matt Kenseth 2317 -564 19 0 0 4 12
9 +4 Kevin Harvick 2308 -573 19 0 0 3 6
10 +2 Tony Stewart 2305 -576 19 0 0 6 9
11 -3 Kasey Kahne 2295 -586 19 2 2 3 9
12 -5 Denny Hamlin 2283 -598 19 1 1 5 9
13 -3 Clint Bowyer 2256 -625 19 0 1 4 9
14 +1 Brian Vickers 2188 -693 19 0 0 3 5
15 -1 David Ragan 2185 -696 19 0 0 3 6
16 Ryan Newman 2094 -787 19 1 1 2 7
17 +1 Martin Truex Jr. 2050 -831 19 0 0 2 6
18 -1 Kurt Busch 2038 -843 19 0 1 3 4
19 Bobby Labonte 1905 -976 19 0 0 0 1
20 +1 Juan Montoya 1863 -1018 19 0 0 1 2
21 -1 Travis Kvapil 1841 -1040 19 0 0 0 3
22 +1 Jamie McMurray 1823 -1058 19 0 0 0 3
23 +2 Elliott Sadler 1794 -1087 19 0 0 1 4
24 Casey Mears 1782 -1099 19 0 0 1 4
25 -3 David Gilliland 1772 -1109 19 0 0 1 2
26 Paul Menard 1727 -1154 19 1 0 0 0
27 David Reutimann 1717 -1164 19 0 0 0 1
28 Mark Martin 1683 -1198 14 0 0 2 6
29 +1 Robby Gordon 1572 -1309 19 0 0 0 2
30 -1 Michael Waltrip 1563 -1318 19 0 0 1 1
31 Dave Blaney 1563 -1318 18 0 0 0 2
32 Reed Sorenson 1496 -1385 18 0 0 1 2
33 Sam Hornish Jr.* 1422 -1459 19 0 0 0 0
34 Regan Smith* 1421 -1460 18 0 0 0 0
35 Scott Riggs 1314 -1567 17 0 0 0 0
36 +2 J.J. Yeley 1138 -1743 15 0 0 1 1
37 Patrick Carpentier* 1121 -1760 16 1 0 0 0
38 -2 Joe Nemechek 1107 -1774 16 1 0 0 0
39 Michael McDowell* 955 -1926 14 0 0 0 0
40 A.J. Allmendinger 851 -2030 11 0 0 0 0

Recommended Reads:
- Live on Type Delay: Chicago (RevJim’s Rants ‘n’ Raves)
- Race Wrapup: Lifelock.com 400 at Chicago (Restrictor Plate This)

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