Justin Allgaier caught and passed Carl Edwards on the final lap as both cars ran out of fuel Saturday night and won the Nationwide STP 300 at his home track, the Chicagoland Speedway.
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Edwards had led most of the night, fought off an earlier challenge from Elliott Sadler and was apparently on his way to a fourth series victory of the year.
But Allgaier sped past coming into the third turn and Edwards couldn’t respond because he was out of fuel. And then seconds later so was Allgaier, who somehow coasted to the finish line for the win with Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne closing fast.
Bayne hadn’t raced since April 23 after fighting a mysterious illness. And even though he spent time at the Mayo Clinic, doctors weren’t sure of the causes of the inflammatory condition. Symptoms included impaired vision, fatigue, nausea and initially some numbness in his arm.
But he was plenty good Saturday night after starting 31st and working his way up. And then he nearly won the race.
”It feels really good to be back, really thankful to be able to do it again,” he said.
Rain washed out qualifying and Bayne started 31st based on practice times. He quickly moved up 15 spots in the first 12 laps, passing Danica Patrick on the way. And by lap 20, he was all the way in 12th and then reached 10th on lap 23. On lap 57, the budding star had climbed all the way to sixth, showing that he had lost nothing during his long layoff from racing.
Bayne got to fifth on the 125th lap and then to fourth two laps later after a restart.
Patrick, in her first race since March 19, finished 10th. She started the race in the 16th position.
Whether she’ll make the jump to NASCAR on a pretty-much full-time basis has been the big question. Patrick has made it known how much she enjoys competing at the Indianapolis 500 where she finished 10th last weekend.
Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Joe Nemechek earlier in the day were in Kansas City to qualify for Sunday’s sprint cup race and then made a little less than an hour flight to compete in the Nationwide race.
Edwards took the lead on the 10th lap from pole sitter Aric Almirola and was ahead for 77 of the first 100 laps.
Sadler passed Edwards on the 152nd lap before Edwards took it back on the 175th. Edwards led for 144 laps on the 1.5-mile oval.
There were 21 lead changes and 12 drivers led, a Chicagoland Speedway record for a Nationwide race.