The field for the Chase is set now that the Richmond race is in the books with nobody getting knocked out that was in before the race started. Made for a bit of a boring race when no one was even close to bumping someone else out of the Chase, but that’s the way it goes some years. Congratulations to Denny Hamlin on winning his third race of the year and kudos to his pit crew for being on top of their game all season.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES 400
The Chase starts at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend and the next ten races will determine which of the sixteen qualifiers will win the 2016 Sprint Cup Championship. This is the first of many mile-and-a-half tracks on the schedule for the remainder of the season. Win and you automatically move on to the next round. After the next three races four drivers will be eliminated from contention and this continues until the final race at Homestead, where four drivers will vie for the championship in a best finish is champion scenario.
Kevin Harvick: I am going to pick Kevin to win the race this weekend and be the first automatic qualifier for the second round of the Chase. Kevin won the first two races run at this track and has finished in the top five in eight of his fifteen starts here. Last year he finished 42nd and that put him in a precarious position that he wants to avoid at all costs this year as he looks to reclaim his title of NASCAR champion.
Brad Keselowski: Brad has won two races at this track during his career which has only spanned seven races here. Right now there is a little bad blood between this Penske driver and Matt Kenseth who always seems to have an issue with either Brad or Joey Logano as we enter the Chase and during it. If Brad can stay clean and avoid the ire of other drivers he is racing close to on the track, he will be in contention to win this race.
Kyle Busch: The defending NASCAR champion won a race here back in 2008 and has finished in the top ten in his last four starts here. He has also led more laps than any of the other drivers here in the last two races. Running in the Xfinity series helps Kyle figure out the tracks and tire wear a little better than drivers who don’t get all of that seat time on Saturday and can be the difference between winning and losing a Cup race.
Denny Hamlin: Denny won this race last year and has momentum on his side as we enter the Chase. His pit crew has been outstanding lately and that helps Denny pass a lot of cars in the pits. If he can get a good pit stall selection and his crew continues to perform the way it has been, Denny will be a serious contender for his first NASCAR championship.
Kyle Larson: Kyle has only run two races at Chicagoland Speedway and he has finished no worse than seventh here while leading laps in both of those races. This is another team that has run very well every week for the past month and has had shots at winning the last three races. All of the Chip Ganassi teams have really been running well lately and showing speed on the track and that is a great sign for Kyle.
Matt Kenseth: Matt has run fifteen races at this track and has one win to show for it. The really impressive things about him here are that he has only failed to finish three laps in all of those races and he has led laps in ten of those fifteen races. Matt has his emotions under control when it comes to relaying information to his crew chief early in the race so their car is handling the way they want it to at the end of the race and giving them a shot at a win.
Joey Logano: Joey is looking for his first win at this track and he has improved with every race he has run here. He sat on the front row in two of his last three starts here and finished in the top ten in three of his last four starts. The Penske teams have been a close second to the Joe Gibbs teams all season with the speed and power of their cars and that show in the five races the two drivers have won so far this season.
Kurt Busch: Kurt has finished in the top ten in nine of his fifteen starts here. Although he is looking for his first win at this track, this team has the capability of winning on any track configuration at any time. I think he is better on the flatter tracks, but he has won on the mile-and-a-half tracks during his career and needs to do that if he wants to win his second championship.
Jimmie Johnson: The six time Sprint Cup Champion has struggled the past few years leading up to and through the Chase. They won their championships by being great at this type of track and need to get that magic back if they want to claim number seven. I think they are missing something with the new rules package that causes them to spin out more often now and once they figure out what that reason is they will go on another tear. The problem is they don’t have any more time to figure out what the problem is.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin is one of the favorites to win the championship this year as we head into the Chase. He has struggled at Chicagoland in the past having finished in the top ten only twice in the ten races he has run here. I think we can throw those statistics out the window because Martin has shown he can run on any track this season regardless of how he has run on them in the past. Barring any major catastrophes, this team will be one of the four teams still in when we get to Homestead.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kyle Larson
- Ryan Newman
- Jamie McMurray
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Chase Elliott
- Ryan Blaney
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT INSERT TRACK NAME
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Brad Keselowski
- Matt Kenseth
Dark Horse: Chase Elliott
Stay Away From: Greg Biffle
Big 18: Chase Elliott