Chicagoland NASCAR Notes, Quotes and Thoughts

Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Red White & Blue Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton's 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 1, 2018 in Joliet, Illinois. [Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images]

Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Red White & Blue Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 1, 2018 in Joliet, Illinois. [Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images]


by Paul Gohde

Rumors of a possible return of the Verizon IndyCar Series to the Chicagoland Speedway next year surfaced this weekend in Chicago. With the announcement last week that the Phoenix Raceway oval would not return to the series’ schedule in 2019, and recent comments by some that the finale should be run on a traditional oval, Chicagoland has been mentioned more than once. The Gateway oval in St. Louis has also been mentioned after its successful return to the schedule in 20017, but the TV/population impact in the Windy City for the end-of-the-year championship finale might be greater. If the race was run here in mid-September, a possible conflict with NFL football could be avoided if it was scheduled on a Saturday night rather than Sunday afternoon, though TV might make that decision.

Monster Energy Cup Notes: Aric Almirola was somewhat of a surprise contender today. He led the most race laps in his Stewart Haas Ford, but wound up 25th as some issues caused him a stronger finish. “I’m disappointed because we had lots of speed, but you’ve got to be flawless all day. We had two incidents with loose wheels, one when I was leading, that cost us. I also slid through our pit box once that cost us some time” …Winner Kyle Busch didn’t score any stage points in the first two segments but led the final 59 laps for his fifth win in 2018…Joe Gibbs on Kyle Larson as he moved up in the sport, “I saw him coming and I said, Here comes a problem.’” …

Xfinity Series Notes: Though it took Larson just 72 laps to go from last to first, he said that the RF Goodyear that he had to change after qualifying might have been the culprit slowing his progress. “I thought I’d get there a little quicker than I did. We were really loose during that first run. That tire we replaced was working better than the other ones.” …Temperatures in the Xfinity cars reached 150-degrees. Chase Elliott was among several drivers who visited the infield care center to replenish lost fluid. “Those IVs really do the job,” he quipped…Only 11 of the 40 starters finished the race on the lead lap…Five Cup Series drivers were in the Overton’s 300 field: Larson, Daniel Suarez, Paul Menard, Kevin Harrick and Elliott. Those drivers, especially Elliott, were concerned after the Xfinity event that they might not have enough recovery time, given the heat, before Cup qualifying began. “I hope I have enough time to go in and take a shower. I’ll be ok,” Larson explained. He qualified a slow (for him) 18th for Sunday’s race.

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”