Driver Group Game

2018 Chicagoland Speedway, Overton’s 400

So, 16 races into the season and four drivers have 14 wins between them. The only races not won by one of these drivers were the two restrictor plate races. Most of these races have either been won in dominating fashion like this past weekend at Sonoma, or have been contested between these four drivers. Even at Sonoma these four drivers all finished in the Top-5. The way it is going now, they could just head to Homestead and let these four fight for the Championship. I hope for all of our viewing pleasure some of these other teams step up to the plate pretty quick and give us a little more competition. Only ten races left until the Playoffs start.


Okay, with my little rant over, the teams head back to the Midwest this weekend and the Chicagoland Speedway for the running of the Overton’s 400. Maybe one more complaint before we get to it. I wish they would run this race on Saturday night and take the heat of the day out of the track. I think it would make it a little more interesting. However, I do like the fact for those attending the weekend that they will get a chance to see all three series races if they don’t get rained out.

Chicagoland Speedway is another of the mile and a half tracks that make up the majority of the NASCAR Cup series schedule. What else can I say other than this season these races have been dominated by Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. I don’t see anything changing this weekend either. I believe one of these three will win once again and the others will be the drivers who make it competitive. I really don’t know what NASCAR can do to make it more competitive.

Kevin Harvick: I have to go with the driver with the most wins to win again this weekend. Kevin was the closest to Martin last weekend at Sonoma, even if he didn’t even come close to him when they got to the checkered flag. He has been the most dominant so far this season on this type of track. Kevin won the very first two races ever run at this track and has nine top five finishes in his seventeen starts here including a third place finish last year. I believe he picks up win number six on the season this weekend.

Martin Truex Jr.: Martin also has two wins at this track and surprise surprise they have also been the last two races he has run here. The big difference this year is the time of year this race is being held. The previous seven years the races were held in September when it is a little cooler here, so we will have to see if this affects Martin and the set up they put under the car this year. That is going to be the biggest concern for this team heading into the weekend. How close can they come to a good set up coming off the truck.

Kyle Busch: Kyle’s lone win here came back in 2008 when he won from the pole. He has sat on the pole for the last two races here and three of the past four. He has also finished in the top ten in five of his last six starts at this track. He has also led 340 laps in the last five races here. Like I said before, I think one of these three drivers wins again this weekend and the stats are telling me the same thing.

Clint Bowyer: Clint is the last of these four drivers with multiple wins on the season so far. His best finish here was a fourth place finish back in 2010. He finished in the top ten here in seven of his first eight starts and we know that the Stewart-Haas teams have all been fast all year and this team has been much better in Clint’s second season with this team. I look for him to get back to his top ten finishing ways at this track.

Chase Elliott: Chase had another great run at a road course last weekend which should just keep giving him more confidence every week. He hasn’t been the best of the Hendrick drivers his last few starts on this type of track, but I believe that all of the Hendrick drivers have made improvements as the season has progressed. Chase only has two starts at this track and has come away with a second and a third place finish. This is another team that has to figure out their set up here for a July race instead of a September start. Another reason I would have liked to see this race run on a Saturday night.

Ryan Blaney: Another driver with only two starts here and two very good finishes. His first year he finished fourth and last year he just missed the top ten finishing eleventh. I think he has been the most consistent of the Penske drivers in his first season with the team and if his arms don’t fall off this week from having to drive the majority of the road course race last weekend without power steering he should have another good run with his new team.

Kyle Larson: Kyle will be one of the happiest drivers to head to Chicagoland this weekend. He sat on the pole last weekend for the race at Sonoma, but that quickly went down hill from there. He never really had a very good handling car after the first couple of laps after getting new tires and was very disappointed with his result. The good news for his is that in four starts at this track he has come away with three finishes in the top seven and has been the most consistent Chevrolet driver all season.

Brad Keselowski: Brad is another driver with two wins at this track and is just looking for something a little extra at this point of the season. The Penske drivers have shown speed this season, but they just haven’t had quite the speed and handling as the Stewart-Haas teams which makes them try something different to try and get a win. Besides his two wins here. Brad has finished eighth or better in each of his last seven starts here and has led laps in six of those races.

Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie has been getting better and better on this type of track as the season has progressed and has probably been a little more than Chase on this type of track lately. He is still looking for his first win at this track despite finishing in the top five in seven of his sixteen starts here. In fact, Jimmie has only finished outside of the top twenty twice in all of those races. We will see if they have improved even more this weekend.

Alex Bowman: Alex finished tenth here last year as he was subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the time. That should give this team a lot of confidence heading into this weekend. He and William Byron have both been having good years for the experience they have in this series and will both only get better as they continue to get more time on the track in the Cup series cars. Can he do in July what he did last September?


Driver Group Game Group A

  • Kevin Harvick
  • Martin Truex Jr.

Driver Group Game Group B

  • Clint Bowyer
  • Chase Elliott
  • Ryan Blaney
  • Aric Almirola

Driver Group Game Group C

  • Alex Bowman
  • William Byron


  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Martin Truex Jr.
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Kyle Larson
  5. Brad Keselowski

Dark Horse: Aric Almirola

Stay Away From: Austin Dillon

Big 18: Martin Truex Jr.

Driver Group Game

2018 Sonoma Raceway, Toyota / Save Mart 350

The series took a week off after a Michigan race mostly dominated by Kevin Harvick once again, but won by his teammate, Clint Bowyer, when the rains came and washed away the full distance after a lengthy wait to dry the track to get the race started. I have no doubt that if the race would have run its entire distance, Mr. Harvick would have picked up his sixth win of the season.


So, the series and drivers head back out west to the Sonoma Raceway for the running of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. This is the first road course on the schedule, and I think we will see some of the drivers you don’t get to hear much about competing for a win this coming weekend.

In years past we used to see some teams hire road course specialists to run their cars for drivers who weren’t that adept at running on these courses so the owners could accumulate owner points. That is really not the case anymore. Recently those so called road course specialists that are entered haven’t done very well because frankly, they don’t have the cars or the teams to make that happen.

Matt Kenseth has signed to drive ten more races this season in the #6 car replacing Trevor Bayne once again beginning at Kentucky in the middle of July. The entry list isn’t out yet for the race this week as of this writing and Bayne is supposedly going to run this race in the #6, but we might want to wait and see if one of these specialist gets hired for this race. If so, and I am thinking maybe Boris Said, he might be a good choice in the C group of the Driver Group Game. The entry list will be out on Tuesday, so keep your eye on it.

Denny Hamlin: I am going to pick Denny Hamlin to win his first race at Sonoma this weekend. If he doesn’t make a mistake by speeding on pit road, which at this course would be unforgivable, I think he will pull it off. Early in his career he struggled here, but the last two years he has finished second and fourth here and led quite a few laps in each race. I think he takes that next step and is your winner this weekend.

Kevin Harvick: Kevin did win this race last year and has been very good here in his last four starts especially with three straight top ten finishes and in his race here four years ago he led twenty-three laps before coming away with a twentieth place finish in that race. This isn’t a race of speed, but more of handling. There are few places to really pass other drivers and you can’t afford to make a mistake here and Kevin has shown he doesn’t make many of those anywhere.

Kyle Busch: Kyle leads all active drivers with two wins at Sonoma. His last win came three years ago and he has finished in the top ten in the last three races here. He didn’t lead a lot of laps here the last two years, but he did lead laps in each of those races which is significant at this track and in this race which is only 110-laps long. You can’t go from the back to the front without a lot of strategy here, so you better start towards the front and stay towards the front if you want to contend.

Brad Keselowski: Other than his first race he ever ran at this track, Brad has finished every lap here since then. He is always competitive at the road course events and came away with a third place finish here last season. He also led seventeen laps in that race. He is looking for his first win of the season and he is going to do everything he can to compete for that win here once again this weekend.

Clint Bowyer: Last week’s winner has won at Sonoma in the past and has some of the most impressive stats here. If you take away the first race he ever ran here and the race he ran with HScott Motorsports two years ago when he had an electrical problem, he has finished in the top ten in nine of those other ten races. That is unreal. He finished second here last year. Look for him to try his best to win his third race of the season and second in a row.

Ryan Newman: While he is a long shot to win this weekend, Ryan has been pretty good here throughout his career. Granted, he has only led laps in one of his sixteen races here he has finished in the top twenty in fifteen of those races and has an average finish here of 12.5. This week you want drivers on your team who have shown how consistent they can be on this track and Ryan is one of the most consistent here.

Joey Logano: Joey is another driver I don’t really think about until I do my research when it comes to the road course events. Once I look at the statistics he looks pretty good to me. If you eliminate the first two races he has ever run here, you see he has finished in the top ten in four of the other seven and his worst finish in that stretch is sixteenth. Someone you might want to take a chance on this weekend.

Jimmie Johnson: Although he isn’t having the best start to his season, this driver and team seem to be getting better each and every week. I think that when it comes to the road course races you can throw out the stats you had the rest of the season. This is a whole different kind of racing and is more about the driver than the car. With one win, nine top ten finishes and and average finish of 12.5. Jimmie is another driver you could put on your roster this weekend.

Kurt Busch: Kurt is another driver who has been the model of consistency here over his career. He has one win, seven top five and nine top ten finishes in seventeen starts here which gives him an average finish of 14.1. In his last seven starts here he has only finished outside of the top ten once and that finish was still a twelfth. He is someone you want on your roster this weekend and is a reason why I was saving starts for him until this race.

A.J. Allmendiger: This is your road course specialist is there is one who is a regular in the Cup series. His stats don’t tell the whole story about how good he can really be here. Only two top ten finishes in nine races here. Average finish 22.4. Three of his last four finishes have been worse than thirtieth. Yet he is someone you might want to consider having on your team. He has started in the top ten and led laps in each of those four races. If not for bad luck he would have been there to compete for the win at the end of each of those races. Can you say dark horse?


Driver Group Game Group A

  • Denny Hamlin
  • Jimmie Johnson

Driver Group Game Group B

  • Kurt Busch
  • Clint Bowyer
  • Ryan Newman
  • A.J. Allmendinger

Driver Group Game Group C

  • William Byron
  • Chris Buescher


  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Clint Bowyer
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Kevin Harvick
  5. Kurt Busch

Dark Horse: A.J. Allmendinger

Stay Away From: Erik Jones

Big 18: A.J. Allmendinger

Driver Group Game

2018 Michigan International Speedway, FireKeepers Casino 400

Congratulations to Martin Truex Jr. who picked up his second win of the season this past weekend at Pocono. So far this year the series has been dominated by three drivers and that doesn’t bode well for NASCAR as far as ratings go or selling tickets to races. Fans want to see some competition or it doesn’t pay to attend or watch a race. I have a feeling we are going to see some new rules implemented soon to level the playing field and make the season a little more interesting for the fans.


Last week’s race was pretty boring as I suspected it would be as most races at Pocono are. Once a restart was underway it was pretty much the driver in first place took off and nobody could catch them other than a few passes for the lead, but when the first pass was made that driver drove away from the field. There really wasn’t a lot of drama in this race.

This week the series heads to the Michigan International Speedway for the first of two races at this track. This is a two-mile moderately banked D-shaped oval track that is wide enough to pass on either side and will have multiple grooves for the drivers to race in. It is very similar to the Auto Club Speedway in California where Martin Truex Jr. won his first race of the season.

Kevin Harvick: Kevin is still the class of the field and only a mistake where he didn’t pit late in the race for tires and almost the entire field behind him did cost him his sixth win of the season. He and Kyle Larson got caught up together at the Auto Club Speedway earlier this year which took Kevin out of the race and we didn’t get to see him battle with Martin for another win. I think this week will be different with Kevin coming out on top once again.

Martin Truex Jr.: As I stated above. Martin Truex Jr. won the race at the Auto Club Speedway earlier this year on the other 2-mile track that is almost an exact replica of Michigan. We will have to wait and see if the battle between Martin and Kevin materializes this weekend or if someone else battles for the win. Odds are Martin, Kevin, and Kyle Busch will battle each other for the win once again.

Kyle Busch: Funny think about Kyle, if he isn’t winning the race, his car is junk. Sometimes even when he is winning the race his car is junk. The thing is he always thinks he can run faster no matter how anyone else is doing. I do believe that in the races where he gets beat by Kevin he just doesn’t have the speed or his handling is off a little bit, but I believe that Kevin would tell you he could have been better too.

Kyle Larson: Kyle has won the last 3 races at Michigan and has looked very good lately. He came away with a second place finish last week and I think he might have something to say before all is said and done at Michigan this weekend. You can’t win three races in a row at any track and not be considered a contender the next time you race there. He is a great driver to have on your team this week, especially if you are trying to save some starts for the top three drivers.

Chase Elliott: Chase has been great at Michigan in his four Cup starts where he has finished in the top five three times and the top ten all four times. This includes multiple runner-up finishes. Right now the Hendrick teams aren’t at the level where they can compete for wins with the top four right now, but they seem to be getting closer to that point each and every week. I see Chase coming away with another top ten finish this weekend.

Joey Logano: Joey has been very good at Michigan over the past three years where he has picked up a win, three top five, and five top ten finishes. Once again we have seen how fast all of the Ford drivers have been this year and this speed should show once again on the long straightaways at Michigan. If they can keep up with the changing track conditions as the race progresses, they could find themselves in contention at the end of this race.

Jamie McMurray: Jamie is my dark horse of the week. He has finished in the top ten in five of his last six starts at Michigan and has shown some speed lately. He is also Kyle Larson’s teammate and we have already discussed what Kyle has done here lately. I look for Jamie to continue this trend and if everything falls into place for him he could be looking at visiting victory lane this weekend.

Erik Jones: Erik has only run two races at this track, but has fared pretty well in both of them. He has one top five finish and this is the type of track where he is at his best this early in his career. I think he had a tough time last week with the three different type corners at Pocono, but won’t have that problem this week at Michigan. I look for him to run in the top fifteen all day and maybe even come away with another top ten finish.

Ryan Blaney: Ryan had a good week once again last weekend at Pocono. He sat on the pole and finished sixth in the race. We talked about how fast all of the Ford drivers have been all year and we know how well his teammate, Joey Logano, has run here recently. I think Ryan will capitalize on all of the information he can get from Joey and will have a fast car once again this weekend. This is a wide track, so Ryan should be able to use it all and if he can stay out of trouble could compete for a win or a top five finish once again this weekend.

Brad Keselowski: Not to be outdone by too much by Joey Logano, Brad has two top five and four top ten finishes in his last six starts at Michigan. Brad really wants to win at this track as it is his home track as he hails from Michigan. This team just needs to find a little bit better balance to their handling early in the race so they aren’t trying to play catch up and having to go outside the box to gain track position. Once they are good at the beginning of a race they will start to compete for wins once again.


Driver Group Game Group A

  • Kyle Larson
  • Martin Truex Jr.

Driver Group Game Group B

  • Chase Elliott
  • Ryan Blaney
  • Erik Jones
  • Jamie McMurray

Driver Group Game Group C

  • William Byron
  • Alex Bowman


  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Ryan Blaney

Dark Horse: Jamie McMurray

Stay Away From: Darrell Wallace Jr.

Big 18: Kyle Larson