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Kyle Busch spun out Kyle Larson on the final lap of the Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, on Sunday to win his fifth NASCAR Cup Series race of the 2018 season.
Larson was in hot pursuit of Busch during the closing laps and briefly took the lead after making contact with Busch on the final lap, but Busch retaliated and pulled off the victory:
NASCAR on NBC @NASCARonNBC
The finish of the year.
@KyleBusch wins at @ChicagolndSpdwy after he and Kyle Larson swap the lead on the final lap! #NASCAR https://t.co/Tm6tamaWd3
Here is a rundown of the top 10 finishers, courtesy of NASCAR.com:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Kyle Larson
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Martin Truex Jr.
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Erik Jones
7. Denny Hamlin
8. Joey Logano
9. Brad Keselowski
10. Alex Bowman
Busch now has 48 career wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, which ranks him 14th on the all-time list, one behind Tony Stewart.
Additionally, Busch tied Kevin Harvick for the most wins during the 2018 season, and he also leads Harvick in playoff points, 30-27.
On the heels of Sunday’s results, here is a look at the current Cup Series standings, per NASCAR.com:
1. Kyle Busch: 736 points (5 wins)
2. Kevin Harvick: -62 (5 wins)
3. Joey Logano: -119 (1 win)
4. Martin Truex Jr.: -142 (3 wins)
5. Brad Keselowski: -144 (0 wins)
6. Clint Bowyer: -157 (2 wins)
7. Kurt Busch: -176 (0 wins)
8. Denny Hamlin: -199 (0 wins)
9. Kyle Larson: -212 (0 wins)
10. Ryan Blaney: -241 (0 wins)
11. Aric Almirola: -243 (0 wins)
12. Jimmie Johnson: -294 (0 wins)
13. Chase Elliott: -301 (0 wins)
14. Erik Jones: -328 (0 wins)
15. Alex Bowman: -346 (0 wins)
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: -369 (0 wins)
17. Paul Menard: -374 (0 wins)
18. Daniel Suarez: -420 (0 wins)
19. Austin Dillon: -422 (1 win)
20. Jamie McMurray: -427 (0 wins)
During the first half of the race, Aric Almirola was the biggest story, as he enjoyed the most dominant run of his career during a Cup Series event.
Almirola took the lead away from Austin Dillon on Lap 60 and went on to win the first stage of the race:
FOX: NASCAR @NASCARONFOX
Stage 1 goes to Aric Almirola and the No. 10 team in Chicago!
It’s their first stage win of the season.
That represented the first time in Almirola’s Cup Series career that he won a stage.
From the time Almirola initially took the lead, he was in front for 62 of 63 laps, and he went on to lead another eight laps for 70 in total.
Dustin Albino of Frontstretch pointed out that Almirola led more laps in a full season than he did in Sunday’s race just twice in his career:
Dustin Albino @DustinAlbino
.@Aric_Almirola has led more laps today than he has in eight of the 10 seasons he’s driven in Cup (some of those were part time). #NASCAR
Almirola also led more laps Sunday than Danica Patrick did in her entire six-year tenure in the Stewart-Haas No. 10 car, per Jeff Gluck of JeffGluck.com:
Jeff Gluck @jeff_gluck
Aric Almirola has now led more laps today in SHR’s No. 10 car than Danica Patrick led in her entire NASCAR career (64 laps in 191 races).
While Almirola seemed to be trending toward his second career Cup Series win, disaster struck during the second stage.
Almirola reported a loose wheel, which forced him to pit and go down a lap:
NASCAR on NBC @NASCARonNBC
The lead isn’t the most fun place to be today, apparently.
Another issue for the leader! Aric Almirola believed he had a loose wheel, and pit from first! Watch on @NBCSN or stream here: https://t.co/WTwvY7sMVl https://t.co/kpuyrloKVY
Although Almirola managed to get the free pass and work his way back inside the top 10, another loose wheel late in the race doomed him to a 25th-place finish.
With Almirola out of the mix in the second stage, fellow Stewart-Haas drivers Kurt Busch and Harvick began to battle for the lead.
Busch was closing in on the stage win when Harvick made a pass on the final lap to steal it just ahead of the start-finish line:
Chicagoland Speedway @ChicagolndSpdwy
“THE CLOSER” applies to stages, too!
@KevinHarvick passes @KurtBusch coming to the green/checkered flag to win Stage 2! #Overton400 https://t.co/fT8cluDA1K
Busch wasn’t pleased with the manner in which Harvick swiped the stage from him, though, as he said, “Never expected that from a teammate. Never expected that. Wow,” per freelance racing reporter Jordan Bianchi.
By virtue of some adjustments on pit road, Kyle Busch went from struggling in the first half of the race to leading in the third stage.
Despite dominating for much of the stage, Larson looked poised to pass him at any moment.
Larson hit the wall with four laps to go, which created a one-second gap between them, but lapped traffic slowed Busch down and closed the gap once again.
Larson’s slide up the track and into the side of Busch’s car on the final lap looked to be the decisive move of the race, but Busch managed to take him out from behind to seal the victory.
During his post-race interview Larson took no issue with Busch’s tactics and even called it the “best finish” in NASCAR history, while Busch said, “If you don’t like that kind of racing, don’t even watch,” amid boos from some of the fans, according to PRN.
Larson missed out on the opportunity to win his first race of the season and essentially clinch a spot in the playoffs, but based on how strong his car was down the stretch, he is finally trending in the right direction after a rough start to the season.