Kyle Busch overcomes adversity to win Chicagoland truck race
Kyle Busch overcame more than his share of adversity Saturday night in winning the rain-postponed Lucas Oil 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Busch came from the rear of the field twice and overcame a caution that put him on the wrong end of a cycle of pit stops to win in his own Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota for the sixth time this year and the 41st time in his career.
In a race rescheduled because of a Friday rainout, Busch finished 1.130 seconds ahead of Matt Crafton, who snatched the series lead from ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter. Crafton leads Sauter by five points and third-place Ryan Blaney by 16.
Austin Dillon surrendered second place to Crafton in the closing laps and came home third, followed by rookie Tyler Reddick and Jeb Burton.
Busch led 66 of the 150 laps at the 1.5-mile track and made what turned out to be the winning pass with 16 laps left, ducking to the inside of Dillon and squeezing him behind the lapped truck of Michael Affarano.
“When I was chasing the 20 truck (Dillon) there for the lead, I was just getting really tight behind him,” Busch said. “The aero on these things is hurting, and I hate that, but fortunately I got through on a lapped truck, and we were able to win this thing.”
Busch started from the rear, in 32nd place, because Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup media activities kept him away from NCWTS practice on Thursday, and qualifying was rained out on Friday. Before NASCAR called a scheduled competition caution on Lap 31, Busch had climbed to fourth, passing Matt Crafton for that position on Lap 29.
But a pit road speeding penalty under the caution sent Busch to the back again. He restarted 27th on Lap 36 (with attrition having reduced the field by five trucks) and began another relentless march through the field.
On Lap 52 he took the lead for the first time, passing Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Darrell Wallace Jr. for the top spot. A small piece of tape, however, adhered to the grille of Busch’s No. 51 Tundra and raised his water temperature to a dangerously high level.
Busch surrendered the lead to Wallace, shortly before Norm Benning’s impact with the Turn 4 wall caused the second caution of the evening and gave Busch a chance to come to pit road, where his crew removed the tape.
“Early on I was being patient, trying to get everybody acclimated to not being on the track at all (Friday),” Busch said. “I was getting acclimated, too. I knew we had a good truck. I was just trying to pace myself early.
“But I knew what I had, and when I had that pit road penalty and got stuck back behind, I tried to charge back through a little harder.”
After a restart on Lap 67, Busch pulled away to a lead of more than four seconds, but his travails were far from over. Busch had come to the pits under green on Lap 110 when Todd Shaffer missed the entrance to pit road and plowed through the infield grass on Lap 112 to cause the third caution.
Busch had to take a wave-around for a restart on Lap 119 and was eighth for the restart behind leader Austin Dillon. Though Dillon adroitly blocked Busch for 15 laps, the driver of the No. 51 finally got past Dillon near the entrance to the tri-oval on Lap 134, using the truck on Michael Affarano as a pick.
“We were just too tight,” Dillon said. “I was doing everything I could. Man, Kyle’s truck was so fast—it was unbelievable.”
From that point—finally—it was smooth sailing for the race winner.