With a beauty only true race fans can understand, the NASCAR Nationwide Series group impressed on Saturday night. The event at Chicagoland Speedway was loud and proud, standing alone and carrying the fire. It was time to shine without Sprint Cup Series regulars filling the field; only two entered the race, and they were no match for the strategic, aggressive game these youngsters played.
Drama occurred early on when Sam Hornish Jr. blew an engine on lap 7, sending the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry to the garage. The machine is usually run by Kyle Busch, who tends to win when behind that wheel. It was more than disappointing for the driver, who won’t get back in the seat for a few more weeks. This was considered notable because of the weirdness of it; the car falls apart when Hornish is racing, but it ends up in victory lane once Busch takes the reigns. This seems odd, but it’s probably Hornish’s bad luck.
The race as a whole was thrilling. There was action, cautions, and true racing. Young guns running side-by-side for glory and money. Even the two Cup regulars blended in; Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne tangled and fought with others, no special privileges.
Chase Elliott won the event, capturing his third win, the seventh for JR Motorsports this season. It shoved him into the points lead, but the margin isn’t something to flaunt; Regan Smith is seven points back, and Elliott Sadler is behind by eight.
If there’s anything to learn from the race at Chicagoland Speedway, it’s that, much like winner Chase Elliott, the NASCAR Nationwide Series is carrying the fire for the sake of the sport. It’s a crucial part of the advancement process, and it must be cherished for all its worth. Stand-alone races like this one make its beauty easy to see.
Point Standings after the EnjoyIllinois.com 300
1. Chase Elliott (–)
2. Regan Smith (-7)
3. Elliott Sadler (-8)
4. Ty Dillon (-30)
5. Brian Scott (-47)
6. Trevor Bayne (-50)
7. Brendan Gaughan (-120)
8. Chris Buescher (-123)
9. James Buescher (-154)
10. Ryan Reed (-161)
11. Landon Cassill (-181)
12. Dylan Kwasniewski (-201)