It’s Race 17 of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season at Chicagoland Speedway.
It’s a new day at a different track & an old face back in the paddock.
We know it’s Dale Earnhardt Jr., but he’s in the broadcast booth providing analysis on NBC’s NASCAR coverage.
And he’s reunited with his old Crew Chief, Steve Letarte alongside Jeff Burton & announcer Rick Allen.
Ten races to go now until the Playoffs begin, who will win the Overtons’ 400?
Let’s find out as we go green in Joliet, Illinois.
Paul Menard leads the field alongside his Wood Brothers predecessor Ryan Blaney where Blaney immediately passed Menard for the lead.
But watch out for the Stewart-Haas guys, they’re red hot fast when Clint Bowyer overtakes Blaney.
Though, Bowyer may have the best car when it comes to speed.
However, he suffered both occasions on pit road under green when he had an RPM problem that caused him to speed too fast.
It gave Bowyer a big kick in the teeth from the lead to three laps down.
He never claimed a speeding penalty in the first 16 races.
But, Bowyer now has two speeding infringements as quick as five minutes.
Never mind one Stewart-Haas car, here’s the other when Aric Almirola swoops Stage 1 for the first time in 2018.
Following Amirola’s Stage 1 reward, the pit stop looked perfect up front.
The biggest mover during the Stage break is Erik Jones who picked up ten spots in P5 thanks to an outstanding stop.
Almirola may have the first serve during the restart as he tries to keep Kevin Harvick away from his throne for the lead.
Though, by the time when the green flag stop began, Kevin Harvick’s pit strategy paid off when he past Almirola at Turn 1 for the lead.
The debris caution which occurred a while ago has changed Harvick’s game as well as reviving Bowyer’s hopes back in the lead lap.
At the same time, Harvick leads over 1000 laps so far in 2018.
He now repeated that feat for the four time in the last five years.
The battle for both Kevin Harvick & Kurt Busch towards the Stage 2 finish.
Looking further in-depth on the Stewart-Haas cars, when Almirola lost the lead, his day has gone from bad to worse.
That’s where despite posting the fastest lap, Almirola reported a loose wheel which is a shame for him & the No.10 crew.
But looking at both Harvick in the 4 & Kurt Busch in the 41, that last lap towards Stage 3 is unbelievable.
Kurt Busch made a nice save by keeping himself away from the wall after Turn 4.
Though, it’s Kevin Harvick who only passed the 41 just a few millimeters past the finish line for the Stage 2 win.
Look out Stewart-Haas, here’s another newcomer joining the battle up front.
It’s Kyle Larson who fell out from 2nd when he lost power during the first pit break.
Nevertheless, Larson recovered from the back to the lead for the first time today.
2nd Caution out of the afternoon.
Apart from the debris, Denny Hamlin lost control at Turn 2 which signaled another yellow flag of the day.
It changed the perspective of the race when Joey Logano had the advantage off pit road ahead of Harvick.
Though, look out from the No.18 of Kyle Busch when an excellent stop with fresh tires won him four stops despite complaints from the car earlier in Stage 1 & 2.
A third yellow goes into play with Corey LaJoie making contact with the wall.
When the third caution comes out, Corey LaJoie went loose before he touched profoundly with the wall.
It caused a major shakeup for the entire field when pit road came open.
With that perfect execution pit stop, the No.18 crew responded as fast as possible as Kyle Busch won the race off pit road.
That gave Kevin Harvick a big knockout down in 2nd which the Ford dominance slowly begins its demise in the hands of Toyota.
You see Brad Keselowski reporting loose rear wheel in the No.2 Penske & Harvick finding the No.4 too tight as it was in Stage 1.
It’s Kyle v Kyle for the win at Chicagoland, which one, Busch or Larson?
With Harvick out on contention, Kyle Larson’s 42 Chevrolet joins in the fray.
The No.42 car closes in real fast towards Ky. Busch’s 18 with just a few laps left before the checkered flag.
And then Larson began to make an aggressive move on Busch by taking the throne at Turn 1.
But Kyle Busch at the last minute tagged & cleared Larson’s rear bumper at Turn 4.
And Rowdy took out his 5th win this season.
Wow!! Everyone is going berserk at the white flag when youth & experience collide.
If you’re a fan saying I don’t watch NASCAR anymore, then you’re going to regret this dearly.
Just three cautions and a lot of green flag exciting racing.
It’s got to be one of the best NASCAR races we’ve ever seen when Stage Racing came to play last year.
Larson may not have won as runner-up.
But he came to congratulate Kyle Busch for a close battle for the finish.
That’s respect when it comes to increasing competition & dominance in world sport.
It’s how NASCAR wanted to listen to the fans feedback in the first place when Monster first took over the sponsorship rights from Sprint last year.
They added Stage racing, level the playing field and boom!
Today’s race reminded us back in the glory & famous 70/80s style racing.
What you can do to Support Kyle Busch
Make sure you stay up to date with him via the social media channels:
Plus, you can shop the latest Kyle Busch Fan Gear and Collectibles via the official NASCAR Shop link here.
We’re heading to Daytona International Speedway next Saturday under the lights.
This time it’s a 400-mile run for the race towards the checkered flag.
Who will win the Coke Zero 400?
Make sure you tune in at 7.30 PM ET LIVE on NBC.
One down, nine to go in the regular-season running of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.