After earning his first pole since 2019, another 2019 stat comes back to life for Kyle Busch. For the first time since 2019, Kyle Busch has three wins in a single season. “Definitely learned how to take on these overtime restarts after this race from last year,” stated Busch in the Media Center, talking about his second place finish in the 2023 race at Gateway. “Racing against Larson, Hamlin, and Blaney at the end there. Larson raced me with a lot of respect there at the end, and that will definitely be repaid in the future for sure.”
Two things were big factors in the second running of the Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway. First was lightning strikes, as it delayed the race for nearly one hour and 45 minutes after completing only five laps of 240.
The other thing would be Brake Rotors, as they took out several contenders throughout the event. Five of the 11 cautions that took place Sunday afternoon were due to Brake Rotor’s exploding. Coincidentally, all of them took place entering turn one. Tyler Reddick (twice), Carson Hocevar, Noah Gragson, and Bubba Wallace all felt like their brakes were falling off a bit sometime during the race, and then slammed into the turn one wall moments later. It even caused NASCAR to red flag the event for the third time to weld parts of the safer barrier back together.
Hocevar was doing well in his first NASCAR Cup Series start when he ran in the top 20 for the first 90 laps, but was then collected in a scary hit that ended his day. “Our No. 7 Chevrolet was doing a great job, and I’m so thankful to be standing here,” Hocevar stated to Kim Coon of the Motor Racing Network. “I just want to prove that I can race here on Sunday’s like I’ve been dreaming about forever. Hopefully we caught a lot of people's attention.
One driver the folks in the NASCAR industry had an eye on this race was Corey LaJoie, who filled in for the suspended Chase Elliott this weekend in St. Louis. LaJoie, like most of the Hendrick Motorsport cars Sunday, struggled throughout the event. On the first lap while shifting gears, LaJoie accidentally flipped the killswitch inside his No. 9 Chevy, causing him an early pit stop to make sure everything was okay. LaJoie finished his first big opportunity with a winning race organization in the 21st position.
Next week, the NASCAR Cup Series will make the trip out west once again, this time to the Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., the second of six road courses on the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Calendar.