Sometimes in racing, overcoming adversity to finish a race can be just as rewarding as a top-10 finish. In the case of Josh Bilicki, just finishing Saturday’s Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard, after the wild circumstances he endured, was a miracle.
On lap 1 of the race, Bilicki was one of six or seven cars involved in an opening lap skirmish, where Harrison Burton led a group of cars into an orange curb, which launched them all — Dukes of Hazards style — through the air. While the twisted sheet metal was an obvious indication of the cosmetic damage on the cars, underneath, there was far more damage to Bilicki’s machine.
His left front shock and his sway bar arm bit the dust through the hellacious impact with the curb.
“Saturday’s race was definitely disappointing,” Bilicki told TobyChristie.com. “I really tried to be cautious and just wanted to get through the first two Stages. Unfortunately, we just got caught up in the first lap mess and it broke the left front shock in half and broke the sway bar arm.”
Somehow, some way, Bilicki and the No. 07 SS Greenlight Racing team were able to solider on and get a 25th-place finish. Had the incident not occurred, Bilicki feels his race car had top-10 speed.
“We were the only car [other than Harrison Burton] to hit that curb and finish the race, so at least we were able to salvage points,” Bilicki explained. “But I felt we had a top-10 effort prior to the damage.”
While Bilicki overcame a lot of mechanical adversity to finish the race on Saturday, he endured through several incidents in the closing laps of Sunday’s wild NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at The Brickyard for a top-20 finish in the No. 52 “Saved by the King” Insurance King Dustin Diamond Tribute Rick Ware Racing machine.
With the end of the race winding down, with all of the attrition and chaos that had unfolded, it looked like Bilicki had a legitimate shot at his first-ever Cup Series top-10 or at the very least, a top-15 finish, but he settled for a solid top-20 after chaos found him as well over the final few circuits around the Indy Road Course.
“Sunday was a great rebound for us! We didn’t qualify as great as we would have liked, but we had great long run speed, which helped throughout the race,” Bilicki explained. “The last several laps of the race were crazy! I got spun twice and went into the tire barrier with just two laps to go. I don’t think we were going to have the speed we did after that but we were able to continue to fight hard and battled to an 18th-place finish, which is the best result for my team on a non superspeedway track.”
Not only was his 18th-place finish on Sunday the best finish for the No. 52 RWR team on a non-superspeedway track, it also marked Bilicki’s career-best finish in NASCAR Cup Series competition. Not bad, not bad at all considering how much adversity he had to overcome throughout the crazy weekend in Indy.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.