Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Chicagoland Preview: Can anyone stop Joe Gibbs Racing?

Who will be last man standing?
LAS VEGAS -- How in the world is anyone going to stop Joe Gibbs Racing in the Chase?

Ever since the low down force aero package at Kentucky Speedway was introduced in July, they've been on an amazing tear winning eight of the past 11 races as NASCAR's playoffs begin at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday.

Chicagoland will incorporate the same 1.5-mile package that we saw to start the season, tracks where Jimmie Johnson won three of the first four. However, Johnson has kind of struggled ever since the aero-package change at Kentucky. His last win came at Dover May 31, but he still is tied with a series-high four wins on the season. He's 10/1 to win his record-tying seventh Sprint Cup title.

There are 16 drivers that qualified for this years Chase and Kevin Harvick and Kyle Buschopen as the 4/1 co-favorites to be the last man standing at Homestead in late November. Harvick won at Homestead last season to win his first career championship, while Busch has never fared very well in the Chase.

The thing that makes the Chase very interesting is that drivers are rewarded for consistency, as well as wins. Last season we saw Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman advance -- with Harvick -- to the championship game without winning during the 'Eliminator Round'. Newman didn't win a race all season.

There are three stages of three races and drivers that finis in the bottom four each stage will be eliminated, unless they win a race in that round. Four drivers will race head-to-head at Homestead in the final race of the season on equal terms. Best finish wins the title.

Who will be this seasons Hamlin or Newman? Could it be Jamie McMurray? How aboutPaul Menard? Maybe Hamlin and Newman duplicate their run based on experience and give themselves a chance to win the title again.

Hamlin is part of the red hot JGR squad, even though he's been the only driver to not win a race in the stable during their recent hot run. Hamlin's only win this season came at Martinsville. But Hamlin gets a bunch of bonus points for being in these situations many times. He has the mentality to absorb pressure well. Hamlin is 10/1 to win the title, same as teammate Carl Edwards.

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