There’s no argument that the 2018 Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway was the greatest finish of the season so far. So what if Kyle Busch won? So what if Kyle Larson didn’t win? It doesn’t change the overlying fact that the fender-smashing, side-by-sideways last-lap run to the checkered flag was the most exciting thing anyone has seen all season. Once again, to bring the topic around, there is no argument here. This was the best finish of 2018.
Still, the chorus of boos was heard at full volume while Busch was interviewed at the finish line following the win. Reminiscent of the Fall 1999 race at Bristol when Dale Earnhardt Sr. turned Terry Labonte, the boos were hard to ignore; Busch even returned the favor by mocking the detractors on national television. Meanwhile, despite finishing second, Larson was all smiles and made sure to congratulate Busch following the race. It was evident that the two had fun, which is more than what could be said for some of the fans.
It’s expected at this point in time that any Kyle Busch victory will be met with a chorus of boos, unless it’s a clean race then yeah, sure; let’s applaud the guy. But considering he ran into the back of Larson in what was a fair play move, fans looking for a reason to gripe found a reason to lob their regularly scheduled boos at the guy. Never mind that he’s one of the best of our time. Never mind that he’s 10 wins shy of 200 NASCAR National Touring wins. Never mind that Sunday’s finish left everyone standing in their seats. Somehow, it feels awkward not to boo Kyle Busch.
To be honest, a prevalent fan issue is that they can be a touch disingenuous. It’d be nice to see new faces in Victory Lane this season; only six drivers have won in the Cup Series so far. But then again, history is being made. Not since the 90s has there been such a small but dominant group of drivers. A lot of fans talking about “missing the old days,” but with three drivers alone (Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr.) winning 13 of this season’s races, it’s a nod to racing 20 years ago when Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, and Jeff Gordon were winning everything.
Sure, there’s been some good, close finishes in ’18, such as the Daytona 500 or the race at Texas. But nothing with this sense of urgency, nor with the level of talent, has gone down this season. Two natural wheelmen went toe-to-toe for the win at Chicago, with the better of the two coming out on top. This is the kind of racing that makes NASCAR so fun to be a part of and this is the kind of racing that makes lasting memories for the fans. If anything, there should be more cheers because when all is said and done, Sunday’s finish was the type that defines NASCAR.