400 Review 400 Review
by Virginia Vroom of

Saturday’s inaugural night race at Chicagoland had one of the most exciting 2 lap shootouts that I’ve seen in a while. With the exception of the end of the race, there were few incidents despite the drivers not having any practice under the lights and no qualifying due to Mother Nature.

A night that was thought to produce a lot of carnage did much less damage to the cars and the drivers than previously imagined. There were a total of 9 cautions, 4 of which were debris cautions. The first cautions was a competition caution laid out by NASCAR to make sure the track was in good shape seeing as there was no rubber left after the rain. The other cautions were all single car incidents. The final caution came out when David Gilliland blew an engine in a BIG way leaving 2 laps left to race. There was no green-white-checker finish, just a shootout between Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch for the win.

Unfortunately for Johnson, Busch did what he does best. He drove the living daylights out of his car and drove around Johnson on the high side to claim his 7th victory of the season. Surprise surprise. Busch wins again. Johnson settled for his third second place finish of the season with his past domination being overshadowed by Busch’s grand season. Really, you can’t say anything bad about a guy coming to a new team with a new car and new sponsors and pulling out 7 victories so far. Did I mention that he won the Nationwide race on Friday night? He’s just that good. Period. Like him or not, Busch can drive the wheels off any car at any track.

For most other drivers, Saturday was a mediocre race. Junior finished a mundane 16th with teammate Gordon holding out for 11th. Two-time Chicagoland winner Kevin Harvick finished 3rd but not after expressing his wish for Johnson and Busch to knock each other out so he could see victory lane.

This win did nothing more than to separate Busch as the class of the field. He is now an astounding 262 points in front of 2nd place Dale Jr. Denny Hamlin’s woes at Chicago dropped him 5 positions in the points, a place he probably isn’t very comfortable in.

Your top 12 in points as of Chicago are:

1. Kyle Busch
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Jeff Burton
4. Carl Edwards
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Jeff Gordon
7. Greg Biffle
8. Matt Kenseth
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Tony Stewart
11. Kasey Kahne
12. Denny Hamlin

That 12th place bubble spot seems to change on a weekly basis. There are several great drivers contending for a spot in the Chase. This weekend proved that drivers even like Stewart and Hamlin are not immune to getting knocked out of contention. Hamlin is hanging on but only by 27 points. Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers and David Ragan are all lurking in the spots behind Hamlin ready to take the spot should anyone hiccup on the track in the next race.

Watch the points carefully in the next few weeks. Anyone from 9th back really isn’t safe. Even Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle in 7th and 8th should count their blessings to still be in the running. Our next race is 2 weeks from now. There is a hiatus before we get back to one of the greatest tracks in ALL of racing history: Indianapolis.