Wednesday, September 14, 2016

NASCAR Sprint Cup Notes for Chicagoland

Chicagoland, here we go with a triple-header.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400
The Place: Chicagoland Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Sept. 18
The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps)

Next Race: Drive for Safety 300
The Place: Chicagoland Speedway
The Date: Saturday, Sept. 17
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (200 laps)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: American Ethanol E15 225
The Place: Chicagoland Speedway
The Date: Friday, Sept. 16
The Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 225 miles (150 laps)


Cowabunga! The Chase Kicks Off At Chicagoland With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400

The field is set and the drivers are ready to compete in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which kicks off with Sunday’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Drivers get three bonus points for each win for the first round of the Chase (Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Dover). Any Chase-eligible driver who visits Victory Lane advances to the ensuing round. Here’s how the grid currently shakes out: Kyle Busch (leader), Brad Keselowski (leader), Denny Hamlin (-3), Kevin Harvick (-6), Carl Edwards (-6), Martin Truex Jr. (-6), Matt Kenseth (-6), Jimmie Johnson (-6), Joey Logano (-9), Kyle Larson (-9), Tony Stewart (-9), Kurt Busch (-9), Chris Buescher (-9), Chase Elliott (-12), Austin Dillon (-12), Jamie McMurray (-12).

Six Chase-eligible drivers have won at Chicagoland: Tony Stewart (3 victories), Kevin Harvick (2), Brad Keselowski (2), Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth.

The winner of the opening Chase race has gone on to win the championship three times: Kurt Busch (2004), Tony Stewart (2011), Brad Keselowski (2012).

Red-Hot Hamlin Hopes To Defend Win At Chicagoland

Defending race-winner, and last week’s race-winner, Denny Hamlin goes for his second straight victory in Sunday’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Hamlin enters the race riding a career-high streak of eight top-10 finishes.

In 10 career starts at Chicagoland, Hamlin has one win, two top fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 17.1.

Smoke Tries To Catch Fire In Final Chase

Tony Stewart gets to start his final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at one of the two tracks where he has more wins than any other driver – Chicagoland Speedway (the other is Watkins Glen International).

In 14 starts at Chicagoland, Stewart owns a track-record three wins, eight top fives and 10 top 10s. He also has a 101.2 driver rating, 10.6 average finish (third among active drivers) and a 10.6 average running position (sixth among active drivers).

If he can record one more victory, Stewart would become the 13th 50-race winner in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history.

Busch Embarks On Title Defense
The time is here for Kyle Busch to finish off his 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship defense.

Busch has picked up right where he left off last season. He ranks tied for the series lead with four wins and paces all drivers with 1,244 laps led. The No. 18 Toyota driver also owns 11 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes.

Busch will begin his title defense in Sunday’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. He has one win, four top fives and six top 10s in 11 starts at the 1.5-mile track. He also boasts the second-best average running position (9.2) and driver rating (106.1) in the series there.

Johnson Eyes Seventh Sprint Cup Title

Already a NASCAR immortal, Jimmie Johnson can further cement his place among the greatest of greats by winning a seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship this year – an achievement that would tie him with Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the most in history.

Despite his track record, Johnson enters the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as a relative sleeper. On the year, he has two wins, seven top fives and 10 top 10s. If the season ended today, his 15.3 average finish would tie for the lowest of his career (2014).

The No. 48 Chevrolet pilot leads all drivers with 26 total Chase wins.

He is the only driver to make all 13 Chases since NASCAR first implemented the playoff format in 2004.

Johnson has never won at Chicagoland Speedway, but owns the series-best driver rating (114.1) and average running position (7.3) there. He also claims seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes at the 1.5-mile track.

“For the next 10 weeks, we are in championship focus,” Johnson said. “We learned a lot last year from this format and we need to be there at the cutoffs and also to be there at the end at Homestead. We need to run well every week. There is a lot of effort going on to make this chase for our seventh championship.”

Harvick Poised To Make Second Championship Run
Don’t count out Kevin Harvick in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion might not have the most wins this season, but he boasts the best loop data statistics – an indicator more victories may come down the road.

Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average running position (8.2), driver rating (110.3) and fastest laps run (830). He ranks third with 1,211 laps led – 33 behind first-place Kyle Busch (1,244) and 23 behind second-place Martin Truex Jr. (1,234).

On the season, Harvick has two wins, 13 top fives and 21 top 10s.

Harvick has won a race at every Chase track except Texas.

NASCAR’s Young Generation Ready To Make Mark On Chase
The Chase has a youthful flavor to it this season with Chase Elliott (20), Kyle Larson (24), Chris Buescher (23) and Austin Dillon (26) all competing in their first-ever edition of NASCAR’s playoffs. Seasoned vet Joey Logano (26) is entering his fourth Chase.

Elliott and Buescher join Denny Hamlin (2006) as the only Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders to ever make the Chase. Hamlin finished third in the final championship standings as a rookie.

In addition, Larson is the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate to make the Chase, and he and Elliott are the first grads of the NASCAR Next program to make the playoffs. Also noteworthy, Buescher has three over-the-wall crew members who are graduates of the NASCAR Diversity Pit Crew Program.

As drivers who got into the Chase via points, Dillon and Elliott have some ground to make up since they each start the Chase three points out of the last transfer spot. Drivers get three bonus points for each win, giving Larson and Buescher three bonus points for the Round of 16 since they both visited Victory Lane once.

Team Penske Ready To Roll In Chase
Team Penske No. 22 Ford driver Joey Logano will try to earn his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship after strong Chase performances the last two years.

The 26-year-old Connecticut native is not winning at the rate he was last season when he led the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with six victories, but he enters the Chase riding a streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes. On the season, he has one win, 10 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes.

Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski enters the Chase with some momentum as well. The No. 2 Team Penske driver boasts five top-three finishes, including two wins, over his last 10 starts. Keselowski is tied with Kyle Busch with a series-leading four wins and also claims 12 top fives and 17 top 10s. The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is strong at Chicagoland where he claims two wins, three top 10s and five top fives in his last seven starts.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Etc.

Five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Drivers To Sport Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Paint Schemes

Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet), Regan Smith (No. 7 Nikko RC/TMNT Raphael Chevrolet), David Ragan (No. 23 Jewel Osco/Leonardo Toyota), Landon Cassill (No. 38 TMNT Bebop Ford Ford) and Michael McDowell (No. 95 Thrivent Financial/TMNT Donatello Chevrolet) will sport Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles paint schemes this weekend.

“We are excited to add Regan, Michael and Landon to our partnerships in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race,” said Anthony DiCosmo, senior vice president, sports marketing and development, Nickelodeon. “Just as we did with last season’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 will continue to expand our relationship with NASCAR, while working with another best-in-class ISC track to give fans a unique and engaging race experience that the whole family can enjoy.”


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