Fierce competition was the name of the game on the final lap of Sunday’s Overton’s 400 from Chicagoland Speedway. Kyle Bush and Kyle Larson traded blows with each other over the final 3/4 of a lap of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. By the end of the bout, Bush came out victorious, earning win number five of the year, putting him even with Kevin Harvick in the win column.
As Bush took the white flag on Lap 267, he entered Turn 1 next to the wall, while Larson drove deep in the corner on the bottom of the track, staying in the gas and using his dirt-racing background to make slight contact with the left rear of Bush, causing his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to slide along the wall, while Larson surged to the lead. Entering Turn 3, Bush got back to Larson’s bumper. The 2015 series champion put the nose of his car against the backend of Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, spinning Larson to the bottom of the track coming to the finish. The hit sent Bush into the outside wall, but he had enough power to cross the line as the winner. Larson’s save put him across the stripe 1.87 seconds behind Bush, and a half-second ahead of third-place finisher Harvick.
Leading up to the final lap chaos, Bush seemed to be in a smooth rhythm, but as the laps clicked away, Ryan Newman raced him tough in a attempt to stay on the lead lap, but that battle led to Bush being impeded by a slew of lapped cars.
“I got really boxed in and got really slow,” Busch said. “I tried to get all of it on those last couple of laps. Larson tried to pull a slider but didn’t quite complete it. He slid up into me and used me, and then I kind of used him a little bit in Turn 3 to come back for the victory.”
“Great win for the Skittles Camry and all of these guys. We were horrible today. Absolutely horrendous. We just never gave up. It’s always good to make the most of the days and get to where we needed at the end. I was able to lead all of those laps. And get through the rest of the traffic. If you don’t like that kind of racing, don’t even watch.”
The ending between Bush and Larson was a challenging duel, with respect, according to Larson.
“Yeah, I was fighting hard to catch him and had a really good car especially on the long runs,” Larson said. “We were able to get the top going and finally run him down. Yeah, the lappers bottled him up pretty bad there, and I was able to get a run on him. He changed his line up there for a couple of laps in a row, and I got a big run and went to throw the slider on him and got really tight.”
Larson later said the ending was just racing, but he expected the eventual contact.
“My plan was pretty much to run into the side of him to try and slow his momentum down and was able to do that and get clear of him. I didn’t really want to be clear of him in (Turn) 3, though, because I knew he would get to my back bumper and move me out of the way, which he did. So, I mean, I know some fans probably already don’t like Kyle Busch, but that was just kind of hard racing there, I thought.”
Martin Truex Jr. finished fourth, while Clint Bowyer, who ran fifth, overcame multiple trips through the pits because of penalties.
This weekend, the MENCS visits Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Below, you’ll find this week’s episode of Track Talk, looking back at the Chicago finish and previewing this weekend’s action in Florida.