Kyle Busch checks off Gateway

Kyle Busch led half the laps in Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300, and conquered five late race restarts, including an overtime restart, to take the chequered to claim his third career win of the season, and win at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Illinois, in the Cup Series for the first time in his second try.  

  • Kyle Busch checks off Gateway
  • Brake rotor failures
  • Rest of race recap
  • Full race results
  • Points standings
Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The polesitter won stage one, and led five different times for 121 laps of the 240 to get his 63rd Cup Series career win.

Kyle Larson challenged Busch for the lead in each of the final five restarts, who had got to first with under 65 laps to go after only taking two tyres on pit road.

Larson was unable to challenge Busch on the final restart, allowing Denny Hamlin to take second with last year’s winner Joey Logano finishing third and Larson fourth.

Kyle Busch said: “Man, to sit on the pole, lead a lot of laps and have my guys do such a great job today was pretty phenomenal for us. Great for RCR. Just win, baby! Thanks to Team Chevy, appreciate 3Chi (sponsor).”

Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, celebrates with RCR team owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer, Richard Childress and wife, Samantha Busch in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch had won at every track on the Cup Series schedule prior to the 2018 season, but with the addition of several new tracks in recent years, Busch has more work to do to reach that feat again. He has gotten one step closer by winning at World Wide Technology after only been added to the Cup Series schedule last year.

Kyle Larson had been outside the top 30 during stage one and described his car as “bad loose” finishing 28th in stage one. Several adjustments made to the car by the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports crew, along with the two-tyre call with less than 60 laps to go miraculously saw him go to the front briefly.

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, and Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney left off where he finished last week where he ended his 59 winless drought to win the Coca-Cola 600, led 83 laps, including dominating and winning stage two, but was unable to get by Busch and Larson in the closing 50 laps of the race and would finish sixth. 

Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Richmond Water Heaters Ford, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

William Byron had taken over the lead of the race halfway through the final stage but a slow pit stop under caution on lap 178 dropped him down to fourth and sank further through the field under green. Byron finished eighth.

Corey Lajoie made his debut for Hendrick Motorsports filling in for Chase Elliott, who was serving a one race suspension by NASCAR for intentionally wrecking Denny Hamlin in last week’s Coca-Cola 600.

LaJoie’s No. 9 Chevrolet was not handling well in the first half of the race after qualifying 30th,  being stuck outside the the top 25 but managed a solid 21st place finish despite the ill handling race car.

Corey LaJoie, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Brake rotor failures

Full time Truck Series competitor Carson Hocevar, who got his first Truck Series win at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year, filled in for LaJoie in the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet, making his Cup Series debut and put on an impressive show.

He qualified 26th  but worked his way up the order in the first two stages challenging Austin Dillon for 16th but his race ended early when on lap 90 his right front brake rotor exploded, taking him out of the race.

Hocevar said: “I had a blast. Just so thankful for the opportunity. I was running 16th… just so surreal for the first time ever. I thought we were going to have a good day and be in a good spot for the No. 7 Chevy team. Hopefully, that call for a Cup ride isn’t the only one I get in my life.”

Several drivers experienced brake rotor failures in the race, most likely down to the hard braking required from high speed to make turns one and three. The brakes appeared to be worse when drivers only took two tyres and ran long.

Tyler Reddick, Noah Gragson, and Bubba Wallace all had front right brake rotor failures on lap 175, 198, and 235 respectively, bringing out the caution as brake rotor debris littered turns one and two.

Rest of race recap

Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

The race was stopped on lap seven and delayed for two hours due to lightning in the area but no rain reached the race track.

A general view of pit road during a weather delay of the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski lost engine performance at the end of stage one and went down a lap. Due to a flurry of late race cautions, Keselowski was able to finish 28th on the lead lap despite the loss in performance.

The start of stage two saw Ross Chastain tag Michael McDowell on the restart sending McDowell go for a spin. McDowell had taken two tires during the stage break, gaining 11 positions, that put him inside the top 10. McDowell recovered from this to finish ninth.

Lap 61 saw Ryan Blaney finally clear Kyle Busch for the lead after racing side by side for several laps, and would lead the rest of stage two to lap 90 to take the stage win.

Daniel Suarez and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had strong runs going in the first two stages, running inside the top 10.

William Byron took over the lead briefly from Tyler Reddick at the start of the final stage. Reddick had gained 11 positions during the stage break on pit road by taking two tyres only. Byron lost the lead to Larson on pit road during the next caution due to Reddick’s brake rotor failure.

With 55 to go, Kyle Busch cleared Kyle Larson for the lead coming off turn two, who had held it briefly on the restart. Busch would stay out front for the remainder of the race.

Christopher Bell was spun out by Austin Cindric in a three-wide incident in turn two but recovered to a 11th place finish.

Klye Busch’s RCR teammate Austin Dillon ended Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s strong day with 22 laps to go when he turned off of the nose of Austin Cindric and piled into Stenhouse going into turn one, taking both of them out of the race.

Bubba Wallace’s brake rotor failure with five laps to go saw the caution come out again that led to the overtime finish that saw Kyle Busch take the chequered flag for Richard Childress Racing.

The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series will be the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway in California with the green flag flying this Sunday at 3:30pm ET.

Full race results 

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Joey Logano
  4. Kyle Larson
  5. Martin Truex Jr.
  6. Ryan Blaney
  7. Daniel Suarez
  8. William Byron
  9. Michael McDowell
  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. Christopher Bell
  12. Chris Buescher
  13. Austin Cindric
  14. AJ Allmendinger
  15. Todd Gilliland
  16. Justin Haley
  17. Ryan Preece
  18. Erik Jones
  19. Aric Almirola
  20. Ty Gibbs
  21. Corey LaJoie
  22. Ross Chastain
  23. Harrison Burton
  24. JJ Yeley
  25. Ty Dillon
  26. Alex Bowman
  27. BJ McLeod
  28. Brad Keselowski
  29. Gray Gaulding
  30. Bubba Wallace
  31. Austin Dillon
  32. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  33. Noah Gragson
  34. Chase Briscoe
  35. Tyler Reddick
  36. Carson Hocevar

Stage one

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Ryan Blaney
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Martin Truex Jr.
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Kevin Harvick
  7. William Byron
  8. Ross Chastain
  9. Austin Cindric
  10. Daniel Suarez

Stage two 

  1. Ryan Blaney
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. William Byron
  5. Daniel Suarez
  6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  7. Joey Logano
  8. Kevin Harvick
  9. Ross Chastain
  10. Kyle Larson

Points standings

(* = locked into playoffs)

  1. Ryan Blaney* – 495
  2. William Byron* – 482
  3. Kevin Harvick – 473
  4. Martin Truex Jr.* – 472
  5. Ross Chastain – 466
  6. Christopher Bell* – 455
  7. Kyle Busch* – 451
  8. Denny Hamlin* – 451
  9. Kyle Larson* – 411
  10. Tyler Reddick* – 411
  11. Brad Keselowski – 403
  12. Joey Logano* – 401
  13. Chris Buescher – 393
  14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* – 368
  15. Bubba Wallace – 334
  16. Daniel Suarez – 313

  17. Alex Bowman – 307
  18. Ty Gibbs – 298
  19. Austin Cindric – 280
  20. Michael McDowell – 278
  21. Corey LaJoie – 274
  22. Justin Haley – 268
  23. Todd Gilliland – 266
  24. AJ Allmendinger – 260
  25. Aric Almirola – 251
  26. Erik Jones – 245
  27. Ryan Preece – 245
  28. Chase Elliott – 215
  29. Harrison Burton – 209
  30. Austin Dillon – 200
  31. Chase Briscoe – 175
  32. Noah Gragson – 143
  33. Ty Dillon – 132
  34. BJ McLeod – 88

Featured Image: Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet, takes a bow after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)


Outside contenders at the IndyCar Bommarito Automotive 500

Following the dramatic conclusion of the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar relentlessly ploughs on with frightening momentum into a double header weekend at the World-Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Illinois.

Now two-time Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato brings massive confidence to the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, a race he won last year after holding off a late-charging Ed Carpenter in the closing stages to win by a narrow lead of 0.0339 seconds. It was the closest finish in IndyCar history.

He will get the opportunity not once, but twice to win at Gateway again. It is a sight we have almost become accustomed to, with doubleheaders at Iowa, Road America and of course over in Formula 1 with double-headers at Austria and Silverstone.

Looking at the championship standings it is a grim picture for anyone who is not Scott Dixon. The New Zealander holds a commanding lead of 84 points over his next closest rival, Josef Newgarden. It paints a clearer picture of how dominant the five-time world champion has been this season when noticing third placed Patricio O’Ward is a further 33 points behind Newgarden. Can anyone stop the brilliance of Scott Dixon?

Frankly, outside Newgarden, O’Ward and Sato, you may think the chances are slim.

But alas, there are many other drivers looking to prove themselves at the famous ‘egg-shaped’ circuit. Here are my surprise candidates to achieve a good result this weekend:

James Black / IndyCar Media

Santino Ferrucci

However infamous this young driver may be, you can’t argue with the results he has been putting in this season.

A pair of sixth place finishes in the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America road course doubleheader was certainly a standout. More recently, a fantastic fourth at the Indianapolis 500 following a late charge which saw him finish three tenths behind leader Takuma Sato and within touching distance of podium finisher Graham Rahal.

In three out of the last five races he has finished in the top six. You could therefore argue that the young gun is finding his feet comfortably in IndyCar, vehemently charged to change his reputation in global motorsport.

While the likes of VeeKay, Palou, Askew and O’Ward may be stealing most of the headlines, Santino will be looking to upset the status-quo. You only have to look back a year when he finished fourth at Gateway after leading almost one hundred laps of the famous egg-shaped circuit.

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar Media

Conor Daly

Weeks have elapsed since a hilarious prank war between Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi, where the Andretti driver awoke to find his golf cart dismantled and relieved of its wheels. Since then, you could say Daly would have gladly swapped that same golf cart in place of his actual IndyCar over the last few races.

He has not finished in the top ten since the first race at Iowa and will be looking to bounce back in spectacular fashion.

Luckily for Conor, it seems he has a knack at Gateway. In his two race starts at the Bommarito 500 he has never finished outside the top six, a statistic that may give him confidence going into the weekend.

Bouncing between Carlin and Ed Carpenter Racing this year certainly will not have helped to form any sort of consistency needed for a title challenge. However, out of all his teammates he is currently tied with the most points alongside hotshot rookie Rinus VeeKay. If you were looking for a dramatic teammate battle, this one would be the one to watch.

Chris Owens / IndyCar Media

Colton Herta

The young American has had something of a roller-coaster of a season. While he is win-less this year, a seventh, fourth and a pair of fifths in the opening four rounds of the campaign proves he has consistency as well as raw speed. He comes radiating confidence after finishing a tremendous eight at the Brickyard.

What has been most impressive this year has been his qualifying form. Since the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway his qualifying results have been as follows: Indianapolis (3rd), Road America Race 1 (7th), Road America Race 2 (2nd), Iowa Speedway Race 1 (4th), Iowa Speedway Race 2 (5th). He only barely missed out on the ‘Fast Nine’ shootout at the Indy500. In such a competitive field, such consistent qualifying pace is a solid indicator that Colton has the speed to match anyone in the series. I expect a similar solid qualifying run to occur, and with that, a potential for a good result.

If you need any more evidence, the Californian has made two Indy Lights starts at Worldwide Technology Raceway leading 69 of 75 laps in 2018 before settling for second. Herta finished one spot lower in his first race at the 1.25-mile oval.

IndyCar cancels Portland and Laguna Seca, adds three doubleheaders

IndyCar has cancelled the 2020 running of the Grand Prix of Portland, due to Oregon state laws on public gatherings that will remain active throughout September. The race, originally scheduled for Sept. 11-13 is the seventh race to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on the official website of The Grand Prix of Portland they said: “We are extremely disappointed and will miss the incredible fans who have supported us […] The safety of our fans, participants, volunteers, staff, partners and media will always remain our top priority.”

In 2019, Portland returned to the IndyCar series after a ten year absence , won by Penske driver Will Power. Unfortunately he will not get a chance to defend his win a year on.

In addition, IndyCar has also cancelled the doubleheader at Laguna Seca in California, making it the eight cancellation on the calendar. IndyCar called the cancellations: “a mutual decision between the series and promoters following close consultation and monitoring of the local situation. The series looks forward to returning to both venues in 2021.”

The 2019 running was won by Colton Herta who dominated from pole position. It was the first year IndyCar had held a race at Laguna Seca for 15 years.

In their place, IndyCar have added doubleheaders to three events already scheduled:

Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, 8th-9th August,

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, 29th-30th August,

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2nd-3rd October,

It will be the third time that IndyCar will have travelled to Indianapolis this season having raced at the IMS earlier in July and later next month for the Indianapolis 500 on August 23rd.

“Our race fans have loved the exciting doubleheader action of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES this year at Road America and Iowa Speedway,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said. “We look forward to giving them even more world-class entertainment this season at three of the most exciting racetracks on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar.”

IndyCar is still scheduled to run 14 races this season.


[Featured image – Chris Jones / IndyCar Media]

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