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Tales of the Turtles 400 Picks To Win

Race: Tales of the Turtles 400
Date: Sunday September 17, 2017
Track: Chicagoland Speedway
Time: 3 pm ET

by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper,

Well, it was an interesting end to the regular season with even an ambulance getting involved in the chaos. In case you missed it, for some reason, an ambulance was at the entrance of pit road during a caution, causing Matt Kenseth to get some heavy damage after smashing into the back of another car. All of the drivers bottle-necked coming into pit road for their stops after a caution. Clint Bowyer also suffered from the wreck and his night ended without a chance at the Chase. Kyle Larson walked away with the win, making it his fourth win for the season. That ties Truex Jr. for the most of 2017 so far. Truex still goes into the Chase with the most bonus points, though, although his attitude might need some adjusting.

Itís been an interesting season thus far. Truex Jr. was awarded the regular season trophy but was less than thrilled for sure. He really was angry about losing this Richmond win, and rightfully so to be completely honest. NASCAR has really got to do something about rectifying their unexpected issues that seem to happen so frequently these days. Whether an ambulance is blocking pit road or if NASCAR just decides to change their points system from race to race, they need to get it together. What are the consequences for the organization for ruining someoneís race? Is NASCAR going to pay Kensethís team for the repairs to his car and to the rest of the cars involved because of the ambulance? I mean, thatís pretty messed up. Thatís not just a ďracing incidentĒ. Thatís truly someone not doing their job.

Perhaps the biggest story of the week is the loss of Danica Patrick from SHR. Not that Iím surprised because, quite frankly, I donít like her, but I thought sheíd stick around for the novelty aspect a little longer. That being said, I guess it wasnít in her hands when her sponsors just came out and dropped her. I mean, how long can you pay to sponsor a car that the fans wonít ever see? The longest visual we get from Danicaís car week to week is when itís on the wrecker going back to the garage. Her focus from here on out is to end 2017 as strong as possible. Well, dear, you had 6 years to do better. Bye! I know that sounds harsh, but as a woman, PLEASE find a woman with enough talent in driving the stock cars to make a name for herself outside of her yoga moves. NASCAR! Iíll take a shot! But I digressÖwe are going to see Danica give it everything she couldnít the last 6 years this weekend as we go to Chicagoland for the inaugural race of this yearís Chase. One thing to know about this 1.5 mile asphalt tri-oval is that itís another hard tire wear track. Coming from Richmond and Darlington where tire wear was pretty exceptional, Chicagoland wonít let down. That being said, Goodyear is bringing a different tire to the track than in the past. What it essentially provides is more grip in different zones of the tire while also providing a little give on the outside tires. This has proven pretty effective for drivers on the intermediate tracks, so weíll have to see if the same holds true at Chicago.

Looking at winners going into this race is a bit different than the last few weeks. The drivers outside of the top 16 have nothing to lose and really just want to win. Thereís not much incentive in finishing 17th in the points versus 25th, so you may as well run with all youíve got and go for the win. Take the risks. Make the moves. The drivers in the top 16, though, will have to contend with the somewhat recklessness that tends to happen to the rest of the field while working towards more wins and the best finish possible. Keeping clean fenders will be essential in really coming away with the championship this year. When it comes down to it, Martin Truex Jr. is going to be the driver to beat. Heís the hottest driver coming into the Chase and has the most wins along with Larson, who I believe will be another strong contender this weekend. Letís take a look at your potential winners heading into the weekend:

My Pick to Win: Martin Truex Jr.
Middle of the Road Pick: Kyle Larson
Dark Horse Prediction: Erik Jones

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In my book, these guys are all very strong contenders. Think about it. Truex has come away with half of the wins on the intermediate tracks this season. HALF! Thatís incredible. Larson, well heís got the momentum coming off of his win from Richmond. Nothing is stopping this kid either. Heís thirsty. Finally, Erik Jones is just a darn good driver. Heís got enough aggressiveness yet enough maturity to driver a very smart race. Heís also got some good equipment under him. Look for these guys to be on point this Sunday.

Here are your Chase contenders after last week's race:

1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Kyle Larson
3. Kyle Busch
4. Brad Keselowski
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Denny Hamlin
8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
9. Ryan Blaney
10. Chase Elliott
11. Ryan Newman
12. Kurt Busch
13. Kasey Kahne
14. Austin Dillon
15. Matt Kenseth
16. Jamie McMurray

Overall, Jamie McMurray got in by the skin of his teeth. Kenseth did as well, but he got that win when it mattered most. Honestly, looking at the drivers from 8th back, I donít see too much coming out of that camp in terms of championship potential. I think that the real contenders are those drivers sitting in 7th and above. Stay tuned this weekend to see how those predictions play out. These guys are in knockout mode and only have a few races to prove that they belong in the next segment. Letís get it started with Chicagoland!

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