Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch finished first and second, respectively, in the rain-delayed GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. The third JGR team, with driver Denny Hamlin, finished a disappointing 33rd after experiencing engine problems.
Kenseth, in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, took the black-and-yellow scheme to victory lane for the second time over the weekend, as Busch won the Camping World Truck Series race Friday night with a one-race Dollar General sponsorship for his Kyle Busch Motorsports team.
After a 90-minute rain delay before the start of the race, Kenseth started 10th on the grid and went on to lead a race-high 89 laps in the267-lap event. The race was delayed a second time for five-plus hours just after the 100-lap mark. It was Kenseth’s sixth win of the season and the 30th of his Cup Series career; he maintains his top seeding in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“I’ve always wanted to win here in Chicago,” said Kenseth post-race. “It’s only a couple hours from where I grew up - up in Wisconsin. So, it feels great to finally get the win here. We’ve been close a lot. Man, it’s been a long week for everybody. So, it feels great to finally race and be here in victory lane.”
Busch, in the No. 18 Doublemint Toyota in the Cup Series, started 12th when the race finally went green. He had worked his way into the fifth position when the red flag fell on Lap 109, then made his way to the lead during the second portion of the race before losing it to Kenseth with 23 to go; Busch led 67 of the race’s 267 laps. Busch ended the weekend with two wins (Trucks and Nationwide) and a runner-up finish (Cup). Busch sits eight points behind Kenseth in second for the Chase.
“We had a really fast car today,” said Busch. “This Doublemint Camry was awesome. I can’t say enough about the guys, Dave Rogers (crew chief) and these guys did a great job from yesterday where we were to today. I didn’t think we had a shot, but the speed really came alive here at night for us and we were really fast. I just hate it for that last yellow, man. There with that last caution and then the last restart, I got going just fine and actually was ahead of Matt for a while there and then (Kevin) Harvick got to his back bumper and pushed him right past me. 1600 horsepower is a lot better than 800 when you’re battling like that and I just couldn’t keep alongside of Kenseth enough getting down into (turn) one to side-draft him and hold him back and then be on his outside on the exit of two. Once he got in front of me, it was over.”
Hamlin, in the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota, started 22nd and had worked his way up to 13th when the red flag flew. During the second portion of the race, he made his way into the top 10. With less than 25 laps to go, Hamlin was running in the top 10 when the car experienced engine failure.
Kevin Harvick finished third in the GEICO 400, followed by Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson. Johnson sits third in points (11 behind Kenseth), followed by Harvick (15 points back) and Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch (both 23 points back).
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