CLICK: Full race results from Chicagoland Speedway and current Truck Series championship standings.
When Kyle Busch was forced to start from the back of the grid for the delayed Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway, the only question was how long it would take him to work his way past the rest of the field and take control of proceedings. He'd very nearly pulled it off when a new penalty sent him all the way to the back again, raising the question of whether he had it in him to do it all over again a second time. Which was a silly question when you think about it: it's just what Kyle Busch does on a regular basis.
Rain had meant that qualifying on Friday had been a washout, which left the starting grid for the race set by Friday practice session times which put Johnny Sauter on pole ahead of Brennan Newberry, while Busch was forced to start from the back after having been forced to miss practice due to media obligations for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase. His place in the #54 Kyle Busch Motorsports truck had been taken by Erik Jones who had been eighth fastest, but the driver substitution meant that Busch had to give up that up for start of the race which was itself postponed to Saturday afternoon because the weather.
By the time the yellows came out for the scheduled competition caution on lap 31, Busch had just passed Ryan Blaney for third place. Sauter had led the first 23 laps but had then been passed by Austin Dillon, who duly led the field onto pit road for their first stop of the afternoon. Busch came off pit lane in third behind Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney, but having hot-footed it direct from the finish of the Nationwide Series race the owner-driver misinterpreted the #51' dashboard indicators and earned himself a penalty for speeding on pit lane which meant that he would have to drop to the back of the field for a second time in time for the restart on lap 36. That's not the sort of thing to discourage Busch, however; in fact it only seemed to spur him on and make him drive even faster.
"Early on I was being patient, trying to get everybody acclimated to not being on the track at all [on Friday]," Busch said later. "I was getting acclimated, too. I knew we had a good truck. I was just trying to pace myself early ... But I knew what I had, and when I had that pit road penalty and got stuck back behind, I tried to charge back through a little harder."
This time it took just 16 laps before Busch had worked his way through the field to take the lead for the first time from his Kyle Busch Motorsport team mate Darrell Wallace Jr. on lap 52. Point proved, Busch handed back the lead to the #54 soon after in order to take care of some debris on the front grille of his truck that was wreaking havoc with his water temperature, just before Norm Benning hit the wall in turn 4 to bring out the second caution of the race on lap 62.
A visit to pit road by the leaders meant that Busch's litter problems were now a thing of the past, as he proved by driving around Wallace for the lead at the restart on lap 67, with Matt Crafton following him through to move up into second spot by the midway point of the 150-lap race and Austin Dillon also in close contention behind them. Wallace meanwhile slipped back and then suffered a right front tyre problem that made him take an earlier-than-planned final pit stop on lap 103.
Busch himself waited until lap 110 before coming in, and a long wait for fuel meant that he was still there when a new caution came out for Todd Shafer spinning into the infield grass on the front straight which left Busch briefly off the lead lap down in eighth place. By contrast the trucks of Crafton, Reddick, Brennan Newberry, Jeb Burton and Bryan Silas had yet to make their stops and could now do so under yellow, while Austin Dillon was the big winner picking up the lead in time for the restart on lap 119. Despite this latest setback, it predictably didn't take Busch long to work his way to the front again and on lap 134 he duly overhauled Dillon for the lead.
"When I was chasing the #20 truck there for the lead, I was just getting really tight behind him," Busch described later. "The aero on these things is hurting, and I hate that, but fortunately I got through on a lapped truck, and we were able to win this thing."
This time Busch's advantage stuck all the way to the chequered flag without any further interruptions, allowing Busch to record his sixth win of the season and his 41st victory in a total of 123 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. With Busch's attention now turning to his Sprint Cup Chase campaign that's likely to be the last time he makes it to victory lane in Trucks for a while.
"Being in victory lane feels good," he said afterwards. "[It's] really awesome for us at KBM. We'll see if we can't see Erik Jones get a couple of wins here to close out the year."
Dillon meanwhile was forced to hand over second place to Crafton in the closing laps and settle for third place. That means that in terms of the championship standings, Crafton takes advantage of a tough outing for his team mate Johnny Sauter (who finished a lap down in 14th place at Chicago) to move into the lead by five points, with Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace Jr. and German Quiroga all in hot pursuit and within 24 points of the current leader. In the owner's standings, ThorSport Racing's #88 driven by Crafton has a four point lead over KBM's #51 which in turn is just one point ahead of Sauter's second ThorSport truck.
"All in all, not a bad night," said Crafton, who had led for a total of 14 laps. "We had a lot of short run speed early, the first two runs. The last run we just tightened it up a little bit too much I think."
"We were just too tight," added Dillon, who finished ahead of Reddick, Burton and Wallace but whose truck was found to be too low at the front during post-race technical inspection and will likely face fines and/or points penalties. "I was doing everything I could. Man, Kyle's truck was so fast; it was unbelievable."
Ron Hornaday was once again absent from competition and now drops to ninth place in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, after Turner Scott Motorsports officially shut down its #30 team following a financial and legal dispute between the team owners. However, the four-time series champion is set to return for at least two further races in 2014 in a deal put together by sponsor Rheem and NTS Motorsports with technical support from Richard Childress Racing.
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Camping World Truck Series championship standings.