NASCAR Cup Series: The Kyle Busch Show Returns At Gateway

MADISON, ILLINOIS - JUNE 04: Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

Vintage Kyle Busch returned for his 63rd career NASCAR Cup Series win at Gateway as other drivers looked to seize a golden opportunity.

Kyle Busch ended the 63rd win of his NASCAR Cup Series career with his signature bow at Gateway. Busch qualified on pole for the first time in the Cup Series since 2019. An era of NASCAR where a race like this would be called The Kyle Busch Show. The closest competition for Busch throughout the race came from last week’s winner Ryan Blaney, who led 83 laps. Late cautions gave Kyle Larson the chance to take restart up front after taking two tires but Busch held all of them off convincingly. With his third victory of the Cup Series season, Busch now moves into third place in the projected playoff standings.

Corey Lajoie’s Golden Opportunity

With Chase Elliott was suspended from racing at Gateway, the opportunity emerged for two drivers to make a name for themselves. Corey Lajoie was brought in to drive Elliott’s No. 9 car while Carson Hocevar would make his NASCAR Cup Series debut filling in for Lajoie. The weekend got off to a rocky start for Lajoie during qualifying as he scraped the wall, resulting in a starting position of 30th. His race got even worse after he accidentally hit the kill switch inside the car, dropping to last place on Lap 1. Lajoie struggled with the balance of his car all day long, ending with an unsatisfying 21st-place finish.

Carson Hocevar’s Cup Series Debut

Hocevar was having an impressive Cup debut before a brake failure ended his race early. He out-qualified Corey Lajoie in his own car and was running as high as 16th during the race. Hocevar was one of four drivers to have a brake rotor fail and hit the wall throughout the race. 2023 is becoming a breakout year for Hocevar taking his first truck series win along with a part-time Xfinity Series schedule. Even though his debut was cut short, Hocevar says he was thankful for the opportunity.

Austin Dillon and Austin Cindric

The contact on Lap 219 between Austin Dillon and Austin Cindric was similar to last week’s incident with Chase Elliott. Cindric’s car hit the right rear of Dillon, turning him head-on towards the wall, colliding with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. When Dillon was interviewed he said he thought the wreck was intentional and that Cindric should be suspended. In the end, NASCAR ruled it a racing incident, and no action was taken.

On Tuesday, Cindric posted a tweet with SMT data from the crash, which covers all of the car’s telemetry. For the second week in a row, a driver has used SMT data to prove their point to the public. Denny Hamlin did the same last week after his crash and now fans can see exactly what drivers are doing inside the car unlike ever before. The availability of this data could change the way penalties are issued in the future.

Featured Image Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images