Saturday night’s STP 300 was something else. Justin Allgaier coasted across the finish line to win despite running out of fuel after passing Carl Edwards on the final lap at Chicagoland Speedway as Edwards also ran out of fuel.
Both were traveling about 50 mph when they rolled across the finish line, even as Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was barreling toward them from behind. Bayne finished third.
The outcome was almost surreal, given the ferocity of the first 199 laps. Edwards and Elliott Sadler dueled for most of the last 50 laps. First Edwards was in control, then Sadler. Then Edwards, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader, forced the issue and retook the lead with 25 laps remaining.
Did that scrap use too much fuel?
“I thought I’d saved about a lap of fuel,” Edwards said. “With five or six laps to go, Justin really started coming, so I laid it down.”
And ran out just before the entrance to Turn 3 on the 200th and final lap. Allgaier was wide-eyed at the sight.
“Coming off Turn 2, I didn’t know if I’d have the time to catch him,” Allgaier said. “Then he started wiggling, and I got a big grin.”
Allgaier drew even, and as he did, his engine went silent. It was a coast to the finish, and Allgaier would win it. He led only the final lap, and only about seven-tenths of a mile of it.
“We were on power another 100 feet, and that was the difference,” Allgaier said.
The difference by 1.719 seconds brought Allgaier his first win since last year at Bristol, and the second win in the last three races by a NASCAR Nationwide Series driver championship contender.
Bayne’s third place finish came in his return after a six-week absence for an illness that baffled even doctors from the Mayo Clinic. He told ESPN during the race he “felt like an astronaut” with all of the air hoses blowing on him, fitting given the way he rocketed through the field. Bayne started 31st and ran as high as sixth after 57 laps. Then he held steady until the final laps, when drivers, including Sadler, had to pit for a splash of fuel.
“Man, I should have started going six laps earlier,” Bayne said. “You can always say ‘Shoulda.’ “
Reed Sorenson finished sixth, the 38 points he earned enough to move him into the standings lead. Sadler is two points behind after finishing 11th, while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. dropped from second to third in the standings after running 14th.
Danica Patrick, in a one-week visit to NASCAR between IndyCar Series races, finished 10th, the first car a lap down. She also finished 10th in last week’s Indianapolis 500.
An afternoon thunderstorm in the middle of qualifying forced the gridding of the field based on owner points, but the skies were clear throughout the race.