After dominating Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway, Kyle Busch has stepped into victory lane for the third time as a NASCAR Cup Series driver for Richard Childress Racing.
Winning the pole for Sunday’s 300-mile contest, the first for the Las Vegas, Nevada-native since 2019, Busch was able to defend against late-race challenges from both Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin to score his 63rd career victory.
Busch, who scored victories earlier this season at Auto Club and Talladega, took the lead away for the final time with 60 laps remaining, after making the pass on Kyle Larson, who had put two tires on his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet.
With Kyle Larson restarting to his inside, the 38-year-old driver needed to muster a defense on several restarts, which he was able to do successfully on each restart, retaining the lead and starting to build a gap prior to another caution.
On the race’s final restart, which sent the field into NASCAR Overtime, Larson wasn’t able to hold onto the runner-up position, as Denny Hamlin surged around the outside to take second.
Larson was able to fight back, ultimately allowing the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro to break away from the pack, finishing the race eight-tenths of a second ahead of Hamlin, who ended up breaking free of the Hendrick Motorsports driver for second.
Joey Logano, the winner of the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series event at WWT Raceway, was able to move around Larson on the final lap of the race, putting himself inside the top three at the race’s conclusion.
Kyle Larson would hold on in the late stage of the race to finish in fourth, which in itself was a miracle, considering the No. 5 team had faded to outside the top-30 in the first stage of the race, and was in danger of being lapped.
Martin Truex, Jr. completed the top five, marking the first time this season that the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was able to do so in back-to-back events.
Ryan Blaney, the winner of the Coca-Cola 600, finished in sixth after leading the second-highest number of laps on the afternoon, 83, the majority of which came in the first half of Sunday’s contest.
Daniel Suarez came home in seventh, while William Byron scored another top-10 finish in eighth place, a result of taking tires late in the race while other drivers stayed on track. Michael McDowell and Kevin Harvick fought hard in NASCAR Overtime to retain top-10 spots.
Although Sunday’s event was only 300 miles in length, the time of the race clocked in at almost three and a half hours – race time – which doesn’t include a two-hour red flag for a lightning hold, plus two red flags for on-track incidents.
Throughout the event, several drivers also suffered issues with brake rotors exploding, with four cars having major on-track accidents as a result of the rotors exploding at the entrance to the first corner.
Carson Hocevar, Tyler Reddick, Noah Gragson, and Bubba Wallace all suffered issues with brake rotors during the event, which ended up derailing their afternoons and forcing them to post poor finishes.
Hocevar, filling in for Corey LaJoie, finished in last place after a brake rotor sent the No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro into the outside wall. At the time of the incident, the NASCAR Truck Series regular was having a stellar run in 16th place.
LaJoie, who subbed for the suspended Chase Elliott, finished 21st after struggling with his NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet throughout the duration of the 243-lap event.
Leaving WWT Raceway, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Sonoma Raceway for its final event in the first segment of the season, where drivers will contest the second road course event of the 2023 season.
After winning the Coca-Cola 600, Ryan Blaney rockets to the points lead, holding a 13-point advantage over a three-time winner this season, William Byron. Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr., and Ross Chastain complete the top five.
With 15 races in the books, the top-eight drivers in NASCAR Cup Series standings are separated by 44 points with Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch occupying sixth, seventh, and eighth in series points. Tyler Reddick and Kyle Larson complete the top-10.