Tag Archives: Chicagoland Speedway

Win and Advance in the Chase, Win Again and Eliminate a Chaser

Martin Truex Jr. was caught a lap down at Chicagoland Speedway. He was fast, so fast that he all but unlapped himself. Fast forward to this past week at Dover International Speedway and Martin Truex Jr. was real fast. He was so fast that he almost lapped the field. When he won there were only six cars on the lead lap. Truex has now won two of the three races in the Round of 16 of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Wining one race automatically advances you to the next round of the Chase. Winning another race may keep another competitor who may have needed to win from advancing. In this case it did not since Kyle Busch already had enough points to advance. It does get one to question what could be done with multiple wins in the Chase. Can there be a way to encourage and reward it.

Here is an idea. What if drivers win multiple races in the Chase and an extra driver is eliminated from the Chase in each round of a multiple win. For instance this round Martin Truex Jr. won two races in the first round. The next round of the Chase is the Round of 12. Since he won an additional race then the next round could have only 11 drivers; 16 drivers minus the scheduled 4 plus an extra one.

Kevin Harvick won the second race of the Round of 16. If he should win another race in the Round of 12 then another driver would be eliminated for the Round of 8 such that there would only be 7 drivers in that round.

Extrapolating out if Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. should happen to win three races in the Round of 12 then there would only be 5 drivers in the Round of 8.  If this pattern continues then Harvick and Truex would be left to fight it out at Homestead Miami Speedway.

If Truex were to win all three races of the round of 8 then he would win the Championship prior to Homestead Miami Speedway.

Think about it. Right now you win to guarantee to advance in a round but you race to maintain your position in the standings to advance. This format throws some Offense into the game. Win and advance. Win again to eliminate your competition. This just ramps it up to a whole new level.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 321972 Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images

What I Hate About NASCAR

On opening day of the first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway the Michael Waltrip Racing team of Clint Bowyer was found to have beveled washers that would allow travel of the Track Bar under load; that is what I heard but it wasn’t really documented. This was caught in the initial inspections and the No. 15 team was subsequently fined and penalized by NASCAR.

The original penalty assessed included a $75,000 fine, three-race suspension and six months’ probation for Billy Scott (Crew Chief) and loss of 25 championship car owner and 25 championship driver points to both Robert Kauffman and Clint Bowyer. This more or less effectively takes that team out of the Chase.

On many occasions NASCAR has penalized a team with only a reference to some obscure rule leaving the rest of us to only wonder.

Today those fines and penalties were upheld under NASCAR’s appeal process which was expected. This is what I hate about NASCAR. I think that everyone, fans, teams, and media could learn more about the technical aspects of both the inspection process and what NASCAR intends for completion by knowing exactly what was done and why it hurts completion.

Maybe it is just the engineer in me coming out, but some pictures would be nice. A virtual demonstration on how this would help the car would be too cool. Think about it. The MWR teams thought that they were with-in the rules, so much so that they appealed. If they think they are that close shouldn’t we all be left to know and understand what they actually did and what that means for competition?

I can see NASCAR’s point of view, do they really need more Sunday morning quarterbacks? That makes sense but here I am. Here is the one thing I think that they are not thinking about. If we see it and it is explained then if other teams do something similar then they have even less to stand on for appeal. The reason being that a simple google search would show that one just doesn’t do that because guys like me will write about it.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 312734 Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

From Junk to Gold, Denny Hamlin Wins the Chase Race at Chicagoland

The first NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup race is in the record books. Denny Hamlin has won the myAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway capping off a weekend that didn’t start out the way it was intended.

On Friday, the number eleven FedEx Ground Toyota hit the track for the first practice full of hope but unable to get out of its own way. Dave Rogers, Hamlin’s crew chief, made wholesale changes to the car prior to qualifying. Qualifying was canceled due to rain and his troubles in that one practice were magnified because the field was set by practice speeds. Denny Hamlin would have to start the race today 29th, the last of the Chase drivers.

Rogers said, “We did have a lot of adversity.  You know in the Chase you’re going to have adversity, it’s going to strike.  We’ve been talking about it, been trying to mentally prepare for it.

In Saturday’s practices it was apparent that the team was able to fix whatever was wrong with the No. 11. Hamlin was the second fastest in the first practice and seventh fastest in the final practice. A great improvement but he still had his less than desirable starting position to contend with.

Indeed, his starting position became a problem right from the start. On lap two, the No. 47 AJ Allmendinger car got into the right front of Hamlin’s car, sending him for a spin. He was able to save it and not get hit by any other cars so there was little or no damage. He did go a lap down.

On lap 130 just after a restart on lap 128, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin used strategy to try and get their laps back by staying out and not pitting. This was a risky strategy given the lack of caution flags in the beginning of the race and record pace the leaders had been setting. That strategy paid off on lap 137 when Kevin Harvick hit the wall hard after cutting down a tire; this put both of them on the same pit strategy and tires with the other lead lap cars.

There was a caution flag with ten laps to go and Hamlin’s team had confusion whether to pit or not. He ended up staying out, what at the time looked like a disastrous move. Denny Hamlin restarted third and drove it like he stole it taking Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon three wide. It stuck and he held them off for the three laps even though he had older tires.

It was ballsy, but I’d been stuck so many times three-wide in the middle. The front cars almost have a disadvantage to the back cars the way it all plays out.”  Hamlin added “We got a great restart and I just held it wide open through (turns) one and two and it stuck. We were able to get in that clean air and take off.

Denny Hamlin has tied Chicago Area Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen for 27th on the all-time wins list with 26 wins.

Carl Edwards finished second followed by Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth.

Denny Hamlin has now punched his ticket straight to the next round of the Chase, The Contender Round. The team can now use the next two races to continue to get better for the next two rounds.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 312813 Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images

Kyle Busch Wins the Furious 7 300 at Chicagoland Speedway

The NASCAR Xfinity Series came to Chicagoland Speedway to run the Furious 7 300. This race is their eighth to the last race of the season and the Championship is on the line.

Kyle Busch in the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota won the Coors Light Pole earlier in the day and led the field to green. His teammate Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Reser’s Main Street Toyota started alongside. Right from the start it was apparent that they were going to battle it out the entire race for the win.

Kyle Busch led the about the first quarter of the race only to give the lead to Kenseth for the second quarter. They continued leading each quarter like they were just playing with the field. They were not playing with each other though Kenseth made a serious charge on the second to last lap and they swapped the lead back and forth until the last lap when Busch held on to  win the race. They lead a combined 186 laps of 200 with Busch leading 102 of them.

We had a very fast Camry here. Can’t say enough about Chris Gayle (crew chief). All the adjustments we made all night long to make the car better and better.” Busch added, “That battle with Matt Kenseth, I don’t know. I thought when I got to him and I got clear of him and I drove away by a second-plus it was over and I can breathe a little bit and I tried to go back up to the top and I was loose up there. I just had to battle through that and try to beat him – he was right there.

The No. 54 Monster Energy Car has swept both Xfinity races at Chicagoland in 2015 with the June race being won by Erik Jones.

Kyle Busch extends his series winning record to 74 in 305 NASCAR Xfinity Series races. It is his fourth victory and eighth top-10 finish of the year in spite of missing eleven races due to his injury at Daytona. It is also his fourth victory at Chicagoland Speedway.

In the after the race inspection the No. 54 car was found to be too low in all four corners. Penalties, if any, will be given by NASCAR on Tuesday.

Chris Buescher finished seventh and has now increased his lead in the standings by four points to 25 over Ty Dillon. Chase Elliott dropped to third from second in the standings three points behind Dillon.

Darrell Wallace Jr. finished third and is the highest finishing rookie of the race.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 312785 Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Kyle Busch Wins the Pole for the Furious 7 300 at Chicagoland Speedway

The NASCAR Xfinity Series is running the Furious 7 300, a companion event with the other three series at Chicagoland Speedway. Kyle Busch will start up front.

It doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who watches the Xfinity Series regularly that Kyle Busch is fast. This is his 46th pole in 305 Xfinity Series starts, his third this year. He has a 12-year streak from 2004 to 2015 of consecutive poles.

Kyle Busch has already won three races this year in this series in spite of missing eleven races due to his injury in the first race at Daytona International Speedway. Eric Jones won the race here in June in this car.

Kyle Busch said, “I’m ready to go back to Chicagoland with the No. 54 team, especially considering their finish there with Erik (Jones) in the spring. JGR has always had good cars there and Chris (Gayle, crew chief) will work hard to dial in our Camry. This Monster Energy No. 54 team can definitely get back to victory lane at Chicago and maybe sweep the year.

It will be an all Joe Gibbs Racing front row as Busch’s teammates Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 and Daniel Suarez in the No. 18 will be starting second and third. Rounding out the top five is Ty Dillon and Ryan Blaney.

If you cannot get to Chicagoland Speedway for the Furious 7 300 it will be broadcast on NBCSN on Saturday September 19th starting at 5:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: Brian Berg Jr.