By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Just a few laps into Sunday’s inaugural NASCAR Cup Series street race and Kyle Busch was nose-first into the tire barrier and presumably out of contention before the wet Chicago Street Circuit could even dry.
Then suddenly, his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet backed out from underneath the water-filled barrier and continued on.
“Just slick. Just ice to start,” Busch said. “You’re trying to brake as hard as you can, as deep as you can into these turns. I just could never get it back under control the whole way in. Just was sliding.
“Didn’t do us any favors. It was a bit treacherous. Thankfully, we didn’t have too much damage and we were able to come in and fix it, get back rolling, get back out there and work on passing some guys.”
An average race would have just been starting for Busch, who indeed suffered minor scuffs in the accident. But in the narrow streets of Chicago’s 2.2-mile track, Busch had a monster task of passing cars. This is where a gutsy strategy call came into play.
“Really wasn’t going too far forward,” he said of gaining track position. “We were able to pull a different card on strategy being back there, being back in traffic, and just thinking – maybe, just maybe, the race would get cut short for darkness. We played that option and it worked in our favor.”
While New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen scored the victory, Kyle Busch was able to maintain his fifth spot through an overtime finish.
“The No. 91 [Gisbergen] passed me there towards the end of the race,” he said. “Just finding a rhythm and I just couldn’t find that middle all day long. So when you see someone else do it, you’re like, ‘I’ll trust him, I’ll do it.’
Hate it for my guys that we got back behind there, but again, we had a good car that was able to get us good track position to get a good day out of it. We gave everything we had for the 3CHI Chevy. A good top-five finish, solid run. I wanted more, obviously. I felt like I could’ve gotten the next two [positions] at least. Just trying to maintain and come home with a good top five at the end.”