Busch-Larson NASCAR finish no reason to shed fake tears

Almost lost in postrace histrionics that had Kyle Busch rubbing fake tears from his eyes after a slam-bang duel with Kyle Larson on the final lap of Sunday’s NASCAR race near Chicago was that the slam-bang final lap happened on a 1.5-mile track.

Aren’t slam-bang finishes on intermediate tracks supposed to be impossible?

Isn’t that why NASCAR recently considered putting governors on the engines and aerodynamic revisions that would allow the cars to run closer together on the cookie-cutter tracks?

The race at Chicagoland Speedway produced a tollhouse morsel of which the Nestle company would have been proud. The two Kyles, Busch and Larson, ran into the side and back of each other on the final circuit before the one from Las Vegas prevailed for his fifth victory of the season.

While Busch was roundly booed, he and Larson congratulated each other on the slamming and banging. Just one of them racin’ deals they said, shaking hands and embracing before addressing the media.

“I would have never imagined Chicagoland would put on such an entertaining and exciting race, but NASCAR sure needed a day like that,” wrote NASCAR guru Jeff Gluck, whose website pretty much is to stock car racing what The Sporting News was to baseball.

“When you get a race with lead changes and passing and contact and drama on the final lap, that’s thrilling enough. But when it happens on a 1.5-mile track, it’s oddly even more of an adrenaline rush … because you don’t really expect it.”

With so many races on intermediate tracks yet to run — including the playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 16 — it raises the specter of more slam-bang finishes, or at least serves to remind a fickle fan base that when circumstances are right, tasty cookies still can be cut on the 1.5-mile tracks.

Busch expected back

The SportsBusiness Journal has reported that Stewart-Haas Racing expects all four of its Cup Series drivers to return in 2018 — meaning that after Kurt Busch signed a one-year extension at the end of last season, he’s expected to sign another one (at minimum) after this one.

The 2004 series champion from Las Vegas has yet to win in 2017, and last week vehemently complained on in his in-car radio about teammate Kevin Harvick passing him for a stage win at Chicago. But he’s a solid seventh in season points and at 39, still is considered one of NASCAR’s best drivers.

At The Bullring

Dustin Ash cruised to a victory in the 76-lap “Spirit of ‘76” NASCAR Super Late Models main event topping the Night of Fire at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Tuesday.

Ash, a part-time racer who also won the season opener at The Bullring on March 11, breezed to a 5.222-second victory over Tyler Fabozzi. It was his 57th trip to the winner’s circle, pulling him within a victory for second place all-time with Phil Goodwin.

Racing at The Bullring will take a seven-week hiatus from the heat before returning Aug. 25 with Back to School Night.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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