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MENCS: Busch wins battle of Kyles down stretch, takes 5th checkered flag of 2018

(MRN) The rich got richer on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, but not before Kyle Busch had to withstand a full-contact final lap with Kyle Larson to claim his fifth win of the season. Larson spent the closing laps chasing Busch and finally caught him on the last trip around the mile-and-a-half Illinois oval. Larson’s daring bid to pass carried him up the track and into the back end of Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. As Busch briefly brushed the wall, Larson took a lead that would be short-lived. As they traveled down the backstretch, Busch zeroed in on Larson’s back bumper and pushed him out of the way before charging on to the checkered flag. The move drew a thumb’s-up from Larson on the cool-down lap while Busch exited his car to a mixture of boos and cheers a short time later. The bottom line is that Busch has now matched Kevin Harvick for the series lead in wins this season. Busch, Harvick and Martin Truex Junior have combined to win thirteen of the year’s first seventeen races and that trio gobbled up three of the top four finishing positions on Sunday, Busch first, Harvick third and Truex fourth.

After getting bumped out of the lead by Busch and sliding across the frontstretch onto the track apron, Larson gathered himself and gassed his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet across the finish line to place second. Clint Bowyer completed the top five.

Busch finished outside the top ten in each of the first two stages but rallied in the final stage to lead the last fifty-nine laps, beating runner-up Larson to the finish by one-point-eight seconds.

Pole winner Paul Menard failed to lead a lap and finished thirteenth.

Aric Almirola won the first stage and led a race-high 70 laps before fading and finishing 25th.

NASCAR CUP SERIES

Top 10 Finishers in the Overton’s 400

DRIVER STARTING POSITION LAPS LED

1. Kyle Busch (16) 59

2. Kyle Larson (18) 7

3. Kevin Harvick (11) 39

4. Martin Truex Jr. (36) —

5. Clint Bowyer (5) 21

6. Erik Jones (9) —

7. Denny Hamlin (37) —

8. Joey Logano (12) —

9. Brad Keselowski (7) 16

10. Alex Bowman (15) —

RACE NOTES …

With a fourth-place finish on Sunday, Martin Truex Junior remains slightly behind his championship pace of a year ago. Through the first seventeen races of the 2017 campaign, he had two race wins and eleven stage wins, and was second in the standings – eighteen points behind leader Kyle Larson. In 2018, Truex has three race victories but just three stage wins and is fourth in points – 142 behind leader Kyle BuschRoss Chastain ran all three races at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend – finishing twenty-sixth in Friday night’s Truck Series race, thirteenth in Saturday’s X-finity Series event and thirtieth in Sunday’s Cup Series headliner.

NASCAR CUP SERIES Unofficial Point Standings After 17 Races

DRIVER POINTS BEHIND LEADER

1. Kyle Busch (5) 736 —-

2. Kevin Harvick (5) 674 -62

3. Joey Logano (1) 617 -119

4. Martin Truex Jr. (3) 594 -142

5. Brad Keselowski 592 -144

6. Clint Bowyer (2) 579 -157

7. Kurt Busch 560 -176

8. Denny Hamlin 537 -199

9. Kyle Larson 524 -212

10. Ryan Blaney 495 -241

11. Aric Almirola 493 -243

12. Jimmie Johnson 442 -294

13. Chase Elliott 435 -301

14. Erik Jones 408 -328

15. Alex Bowman 390 -346

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 367 -369

17. Paul Menard 362 -374

18. Daniel Suarez 316 -420

19. Austin Dillon (1) 314 -422

20. Jamie McMurray 309 -427

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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