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NASCAR’s Best Races in Chicago

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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NASCAR returns to the Chicagoland area for the first time in four years, this time, right in the heart of the city with the Chicago Street Race. One of the most highly anticipated races of the year, it's a good idea to take a look back at NASCAR's history in the Chicagoland area. What are the best races in the history of Joliet, Illinois Chicagoland Speedway?

NASCAR returns to the Chicagoland area for the first time in four years, this time, right in the heart of the city with the Chicago Street Race. One of the most highly anticipated races of the year, it’s a good idea to take a look back at NASCAR’s history in the Chicagoland area. What are the best races in the history of Joliet, Illinois Chicagoland Speedway?

5. 2011 Geico 400: Tony Stewart Starts his Championship Run

The first race of the 2011 Playoffs came down to fuel mileage. Tony Stewart, who limped into the playoffs as the 10th and final driver in on points worked his way up from the 26th starting spot to the lead during the final 100 miles of the race. The final green flag run of the race was 50 laps, right up against the number for fuel mileage.

Some drivers like Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson had to fall back and save, while others like Stewart and Kevin Harvick were turned loose. In the final two laps, multiple drivers ran out of gas as Stewart pulled away to win over Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Stewart would go on to win five of the 10 races in the Playoffs on his way to his third championship.

4. 2008 LifeLock.com 400: Kyle Busch Beats Jimmie Johnson

Not only is this number four on this list, but it is also the first NASCAR race I personally attended. The first night race in the history of Chicagoland Speedway was dominated early by polesitter Kyle Busch, who led 163 of the first 250 laps. Then two-time champion Jimmie Johnson, however, took the lead from Busch on a late restart, and it seemed Johnson was going to pull off an upset win.

With five laps to go, David Gilliland blew an engine setting up a two-lap shootout. Busch went to the outside of Johnson immediately on the restart, and Busch took the lead heading to the white flag. Busch would hold off the hard-charging Johnson for his seventh win of the 2008 season.

3. 2014 MyAFibStory.com 400: Keselowski’s 3-wide Pass & NASCAR’s Future Shines

When people reminisce about the best racing the Gen-6 car ever had, many point to this race. It was the first Playoff race under the current knockout style format, and Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, then-rookie Kyle Larson, and Jeff Gordon put on a show in the final laps. With 18 laps to go, Keselowski made an incredibly daring 3-wide pass between Harvick and Larson to take the lead, and he would never relinquish it.

After another late restart one of the most incredible second-place battles in NASCAR history ensued as Larson and Gordon battled. A true sight of NASCAR’s past meeting its future, Larson showed to everyone what those in the NASCAR garage already knew. He was an incredibly talented race car driver.

2. 2006 USG Sheetrock 400: Jeff Gordon turns Matt Kenseth

In 2006, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon were not too fond of each other. After a shoving incident at Bristol early in the season, Gordon and Kenseth found themselves near each other once again during the summer at Chicagoland Speedway. Kenseth was in the lead, while Gordon was charging.

With four laps to go, Gordon turned Kenseth in turn two, and Kenseth called for NASCAR to penalize Gordon. NASCAR took no action, and Gordon had the lead. He would go on to win, while Kenseth finished the race in a crash just after the finish.

1. 2018 Overton’s 400: SLIDE JOB

Multiple drivers took their turn at the front on this day, but it came down to Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and lapped traffic. In the final laps, Busch was caught up in a knot of lapped traffic allowing Larson to close heading into the final lap. In turn one, Larson tried to pull off a slide-job, clipping Busch in turn two.

Larson would take the lead briefly, but Busch retaliated in turn three, spinning Larson out. Busch would swoop around the outside for the win, his fifth of the season. Busch summed up the finish perfectly saying this, “If you don’t like that kind of racing, don’t even watch.”

Of course, all of these races are at a now-defunct track, but a new tradition is about to start this weekend. This weekend will add to NASCAR’s relatively brief, yet, quite packed history in Chicagoland.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts