July 12, 2008
Kyle Busch dominates in Chicago for incredible seventh win of season
JOLIET, IL (July 12, 2008) - The superlatives just keep coming in. Every single week, every single race, Kyle Busch continues to shock and amaze NASCAR fans. This week, Busch admittedly managed to surprise himself for once. He dominated most of the night, leading 165 of 267 laps in the LifeLock.com 400. But it took a bold move to the outside of Jimmie Johnson on the final restart to pull out yet another victory, his seventh of the 2008 season. With the win he expanded his points lead to a season-high 262 points over second-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
"I have to thank these guys. I gave up on myself and didn't think I could do that," Busch said after the race. "I've watched Jimmie Johnson do that a few times and I don't know how I did that. This M&M's® Toyota team is just phenomenal tonight. Great pit stops all night. Every time we came down pit road we had fast pit stops. I have to thank the fans that are here, Interstate Batteries and M&M's, Snickers, Combos, everybody that makes it so fun – and Sprint. I can't believe this."
Saturday night's race at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway started in familiar fashion, with the colorful look of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota setting the pace. With qualifying rained out, the field was set by owner's points and Busch started from the pole position. He led the first 43 laps, but relinquished the lead to a hard-charging Carl Edwards.
From there Busch struggled with the handling on his car, as he radioed in that he couldn't find any grip in the front or the rear tires. It took him until lap 121 to get back to the point, but once he got there he stayed put for a while. Through several lightning-fast pit stops, Kyle Busch's crew continued to return him to the race track in the top position.
Busch had a stranglehold on the field until a restart on lap 248. Jimmie Johnson dove to the bottom groove of the race track and took the lead away from the dominant Joe Gibbs Racing driver. Johnson began to create some distance between himself and Busch. He looked to have the race win wrapped up when a caution came out for oil on the track.
NASCAR's defending champion led NASCAR's current points leader to the green flag for the final restart of the night with just two laps to go. With some added motivation from his crew chief and spotter, Busch shot to the outside groove and pulled up door-to-door with Johnson through the middle of turns one and two. He completed the pass and made it stick, staying out front for the final lap to take the checkered flag in the LifeLock.com 400. After the thrilling victory, Busch reflected on what a magical season it's been so far.
"I really don't believe how good things are going," said Busch. "It's just been a phenomenal year. Something just so special. I have to thank the good Lord from up above. I don't know where this is coming from, but he's blessing us all at Joe Gibbs Racing this year. This is just a privilege to be a part of and we're so proud."
Tony Stewart also had a great run in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He led 11 laps and finished with a strong fifth-place finish. Denny Hamlin had trouble with his ignition box in the early stages of the race. He continued on to finish four laps down in the 40th spot.
The top five in Saturday night's race was filled with Chase contenders. Behind Busch's amazing seventh victory was Jimmie Johnson who finished in second. Kevin Harvick made a late charge to finish third. Greg Biffle led 43 laps and finished in fourth, while Tony Stewart rounded out the top five.
Teams will have a much-deserved weekend off before traveling to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 27. The green flag is scheduled to wave for the historic race at 2:00pm EDT. ESPN will kick off their first of six broadcasts at 1:00pm EDT. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway radio network will provide simultaneous radio coverage.