Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – JOLIET, IL – There are so many positives to take from Chicagoland that they can’t all be mentioned, but there were also some not so good parts. Here’s this week’s Good, Bad & Ugly.
The racing all day long during the Overton’s 400 was compelling to say the least. The ultra hot conditions tested the drivers stamina, mental strength and driving abilities like no other event has all season to date.
Passing happened all day long. Not just when teams felt it was time to get aggressive at the end of the event. They put on a show for every fan that came out to support the race and fans more than got their money’s worth on Sunday.
The final battle between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson went down to the final corner of the final lap. Neither gave each other any leeway and yet again it was Busch who came out on top after a contact filled duel to the finish. However Larson managed to save his car after Busch gave him the bumper and cross the line in second place and most people would’ve ended up wrecked.
It was the closest thing we’ve seen to Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch’s Darlington dogfight in 2003.
The heat all weekend long was unbearable. 150 plus degree conditions inside the race cars for both the Xfinity and Cup Series races pushed drivers to the absolute limit and beyond. Chase Elliot had to be brought to the infield care center for I.V. Fluid intake after the Saturday race concluded but he was back in the car just one hour later for Cup Series qualifying.
The thermometer in one car actually broke. Installed to give fans an idea of what drivers were dealing with in the cars, it quit doing its job and just said “Hi.” As in so hot the thermometer had maxed out. The summer months in racing are always hot but this past weekend’s racing may have been one of the toughest challenges some of these drivers will ever face in their careers physically.
With Chicagoland’s shortened schedule which was implemented this season at a handful of tracks, it may be a smart idea for NASCAR to modify their start times on the fly. One hour and two bags of I.V. fluid for a driver who’s nearly passed out isn’t a smart thing to push on their athletes.
On a day like Saturday with so many Cup Series competitors competing for 300 miles, they might need to be willing to give an extra half hour of recovery time to competitors who are physically spent.
Clint Bowyer’s fifth place finish may be the oddest thing of the entire season. How a driver can speed on pit lane, speed during the first penalty, give himself yet another penalty while serving the penalty and have to make a third trip to pit lane to serve the… you get the point. How did they do that?
Finishing fifth by rights is a win for Bowyer and his SHR team. The cautions fell just right to get Bowyer back on the lead lap in a car that was as fast as any car on the track all day long. It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination but somehow, some way, Bowyer got a solid points day out of Chicagoland.