Busch Answers Questions About Ability And Desire At Chicagoland

Charlotte, NC – Good drivers win races. Great drivers win races they shouldn’t. On Saturday, Kyle Busch ascended into the second category.

Busch willed his No. 18 Toyota around Jimmie Johnson on a final green, white, checkered flag finish to capture the 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. The victory was his 11th career triumph in 133 Sprint Cup Series starts and Busch’s seventh Cup win in 19 events this season.

Busch, who swept the weekend by also winning Friday’s NASCAR Nationwide event at Chicagoland, now has 14 wins this season (seven Cup, four Nationwide, two Craftsman Truck). If you still had any questions about Busch and his ability or desire, those had to be answered this weekend – especially Saturday night.

Johnson clearly had the best car in the final stages of Saturday’s 400-miler – a droll affair in which Busch again dominated leading more than half the laps only to have the second-best car in the final circuits. Sprinting away from Busch after taking the lead on Lap 248, Johnson appeared to be on his way to victory when a late caution brought out the two-lap dash to the finish.

Busch all but attached his Toyota to the back bumper of Johnson’s Chevy pushing him past the green flag restart point and never lifted as he swung to the outside as the pair raced into Turn 1. Busch stayed wide open down the back straight and through Turns 3-4 to dust off Johnson and score his third victory in the last four Sprint Cup events.

The move was masterful, full of drive and determination – something you’d expect from someone like Dale Earnhardt, Sr., or maybe even Johnson, the two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion – not some ‘punk kid’ like the 23-year-old Busch.

Winning races in great equipment – the kind Joe Gibbs Racing gives Busch every week is one thing. Winning them when your car is second-best is another. Busch proved once and for all Saturday evening that he is among the elite drivers currently competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, not because he won the race, but because he won when he shouldn’t have.

It’s time to admit we’re seeing something pretty special this season.

Who’s Got What
After weeks of bitching and whining about the unfair advantage Toyota has under the hood, competitors in the Nationwide Series are going to get the straight dope on who’s got what this week.

NASCAR pulled nine engines – an unheard of number based on past post-race tech procedures – after Friday’s event at Chicagoland. The engines were to be taken back to North Carolina for dyno testing. The tests – which will be conducted on all makes of engines running in the series – will once and for all determine the parity of powerplants in the division.

It’s about time. Stay tuned for information on the results and look for NASCAR to try to level the playing field if one brand has a significant advantage.

Natural Beauty
With Busch running away and hiding up front and the rest of the field strung out with little side-by-side racing, you had to look for something to hold your attention during the early stages of Saturday’s Cup race.

Fortunately, there was an amazing sunset that illuminated the 1.5-mile Joliet, IL speedway unlike any other (perhaps Phoenix). The multi-colored sky framing the action provided an amazing setting, even if the racing (we use the term loosely here) was monochromatic.

Saturday Night Thunder
The Chicagoland Cup race was run under the lights on Saturday night for the first time and is now one of 10 night races on the schedule.
The televised events have supposedly cut into attendance at local raceways as fans stay home to watch the NASCAR race for free on television instead of spending $30 to take the family to a local speedway.

Given the lack of action in Saturday’s three-hour Cup snoozer, you have to wonder how long the fam is going to sit still before heading back to the local quarter or half-mile oval to see some real racing – the kind where the cars actually run side-by-side throughout the entire race.

The Week Ahead
The Cup crowd finally gets a weekend off before heading to Indianapolis and the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, July 27. Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series heads to Madison, IL and Gateway International Raceway for a Saturday, July 19 event (race time is 9 p.m. Eastern).

After a two-week layoff, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is back in action with a 7 p.m. Eastern event at Kentucky Speedway Saturday.
That also puts Close Finishes back on track resuming our normal Tuesday 1:30 Eastern Time Truck Series guest spot on Tradin’ Paint – a Sirius Satellite Radio NASCAR Channel 128 program – and on the spotter’s stand for Donny Lia and the No. 71 TRG Motorsports Chevy at Kentucky Saturday.
Tune in both if you can.

Parting Thought
The next time you are at the track and the idiot next to you decides to throw something – anything – on the racetrack, immediately report their ass to the closest authority.

There is no room for that kind of stuff in auto racing and those individuals who pepper the track and it’s participants with lethal debris are no fans of the sport.

Show the fools the door – or better yet – send them off to jail before they seriously hurt someone.

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