Race: Geico 400
Date: Sunday September 18, 2011
Track: Chicagoland Speedway
Time: 2 pm ET
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Well, after the epic fail known as Jimmie Johnson, aka my pick, last weekend
at Richmond, I have to say that I am not too sad that I ended up missing
my trip. I watched the race from the comfort of my couch and was sorely
disappointed with the ongoing feud between Kurt Busch and Johnson, who can’t
seem to catch a break from the over-dramatizing media. After the race, the
reporters were quick to turn Busch’s interview around when discussing the
issues with Johnson, making Johnson misinterpret what Busch really meant.
Despite poor media coverage and a poor finish from Johnson, the racing
was good as it usually is on the short track at Richmond International.
Kevin Harvick earned his win last weekend in a big way by leading quite
a few laps. He was undoubtedly one of the most, if not the most, dominant
car throughout the night. There were other drivers who would come close
but could never close the gap or pass. Jeff Gordon gave a very strong go
at Harvick, but as Gordon said, Harvick just had too strong of a car all
the way around that night.
As we head into this weekend of racing, we are going to Chicagoland Speedway.
I really enjoy the racing at Chicago. These guys go fast and go hard around
this 1.5 mile D-shaped oval. The track boasts a 2400 foot fronstretch with
11 degree banking and a 1700 backstretch with 5 degree banking. The turns
come in at 18 degrees a piece.
The biggest issues in the past here at Chicago have been tires and long
green flag runs causing fuel mileage problems. This track does not have
a long history in terms of NASCAR. In fact, the track has only been completed
since 2000. In terms of tires, the most notable year was probably in 2005
when Goodyear rolled out a new compound here that appeared to be too soft
and have too much grip. That combination along with high track temperatures
and those long green flag runs that I mentioned had disastrous effects for
many drivers who saw more of the wall than the racetrack. The compound has
obviously since been changed, but tires still remain an issue simply because
of the many long green flag runs that we see here. On top of those green
flag runs causing tire problems, they also cause issues with fuel mileage
and pit strategy, so we will just have to wait and see how these weekend
works in terms of long or short runs.
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When it comes to winners this weekend, my pick is Kevin Harvick.
He is coming off strong on the win from Richmond and also has significant
success at Chicago. He is the winner of the inaugural and following years’
races. He also simply does well at these 1.5 mile tracks. Another couple
of drivers that we need to be mindful of are Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards.
Jeff Gordon has been consistently good over the last few weeks. He is certainly
going to give us a good show, but I think that he will once again have difficulty
catching and passing Kevin Harvick. Additionally, Carl Edwards does great
at this style of track. If he is going to have success in terms of a win,
this is going to be the track where he can do it. Needless to say, his recent
performance has been so up and down, it is difficult to pinpoint him in
victory lane over the other few consistent drivers.
Here are your current top 12 in points, which are also your only 12 contenders
for the Chase after our last regular season race:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Carl Edwards
6. Jimmie Johnson
7. Kurt Busch
8. Ryan Newman
9. Tony Stewart
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
11. Brad Keselowski
12. Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski are the wildcard drivers that made it
into the Chase. They join the top 10 in the race for the coveted Sprint
Cup Championship. Dale Eanhardt Jr. is in the Chase, which is a nice change
of pace, but he’s in by the hair on his chinny chin chin. He’s got a lot
of work to do to get that Championship that has eluded him for so long.
Let’s begin with the Chase! This weekend at Chicagoland is the countdown
to the Cup!
Virginia’s Pick to Win the Geico 400: Kevin Harvick.