NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase for the cup starts in the MyAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibRisk.com 400
Chicagoland Speedway Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps)
Sunday, Sept. 20 3 p.m. (ET) TV: NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

NASCAR XFINITY Series Furious 7 300
Chicagoland Speedway Distance: 300 miles (200 laps)
Saturday, Sept. 19 6 p.m. (ET) TV: NBCSN, 5:30 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol E15 225
Chicagoland Speedway Distance: 225 miles (150 laps)
Friday, Sept. 18 8:30 p.m. (ET) TV: FS1, 8 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series the Pinty’s 200
Kawartha Speedway Semi-banked oval LENGTH: .375 Mile
Saturday, September 19 TV: TSN Tape Delayed

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

WordMark_RACE_CMYK_revised_063015

‘Chasing’ Earnhardt And Petty: Johnson Sets Sites On Seventh Series Title

Ten races separate Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup No. 1 seed Jimmie Johnson from potential immortality. If Johnson wins NASCAR’s 16-driver, four-knockout round playoff, he will capture his seventh series title, tying Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the all-time lead.

Johnson begins his quest in Sunday’s MyAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN). He has never won at the Windy City track, but boasts seven top fives, and seven top 10s to go along with the series-best average running position (7.129) and driver rating (115.5) there. Chicago remains one of four active tracks at which Johnson has not won (Homestead, Kentucky and Watkins Glen).

The No. 48 Chevrolet driver has won four races this season, but has made 13 starts since his last victory. He tends to elevate his elite skill to an even higher level during NASCAR’s playoffs though, as he leads all drivers with 25 total Chase wins.

Johnson is the only driver to make all 12 Chases since NASCAR first implemented the playoff format in 2004. Click here to see how others compare to Johnson in terms of Chases made.

Kyle Busch Tries To Put Disappointing Chase History In The Rearview Mirror

After reeling off four wins in just 15 races, Kyle Busch enters the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as one of the favorites, if not THE FAVORITE, to take home NASCAR’s ultimate crown.

Don’t mark Kyle Busch as the champion on your Chase Grid in Sharpie just yet.

Busch has the same amount of victories in the Chase as Brian Vickers, Dale Jarrett and Joe Nemechek – one. And that lone victory came in his first full-time season (2005) at Phoenix (when he wasn’t a member of the Chase field).

If you can’t win, the new Chase format makes it hard for a driver to get very far. A visit to Victory Lane in any race automatically advances a Chase driver to the next round.

Busch gets his first shot at a checkered flag at Chicagoland where he claims one win, four top fives and five top 10s in 10 starts.

Keselowski Quietly Roars Into The Chase

What a difference a year makes.

Last season, Brad Keselowski roared into the Chase with much fanfare after leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with four regular season wins, including the finale at Richmond. He kept his momentum going in the Chase winning the opener at Chicagoland on a banzai move, further asserting himself has the championship favorite.

This year, Keselowski roars into the Chase again, but without the same outside expectations. Quietly, he has the longest streak of top-10 finishes entering the Chase (9). His teammate Joey Logano has the next-best string of top 10s with five. Included in Keselowski’s streak are three runner-up finishes.

Chicagoland may be the perfect place for Keselowski to get his momentum going. The No. 2 Ford driver owns two wins, three top fives and four top 10s in six starts at the 1.5-mile track.

Speaking of Logano ….

He enters the Chase as the only non-Joe Gibbs Racing driver who has won in the last nine races – twice, at Watkins Glen and Bristol. He will attempt to get back to the Championship 4 Round for the second consecutive season.

Harvick Begins Second Leg Of Title Defense

Kevin Harvick begins the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with his mind on one goal, retaining his title of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

Harvick’s two victories put him in a four-way tie for fifth in the series in wins, but he tops the leaderboards in almost every other category. The No. 4 Chevrolet driver ranks first in top fives (18), top 10s (22), average running position (7.5), laps led (1,450) and driver rating (118.8). His 10 runner-ups mark the first time a driver has logged double-digit second-place finishes since Bobby Allison tallied 12 in 1972.

Harvick begins the second leg of his title defense in Sunday’s MyAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, where he has two wins, eight top fives and nine top 10s in 14 starts.

All They Do Is Win: Joe Gibbs Racing

T-Pain helped the New England Patriots unveil their Super Bowl banner last Thursday by performing his hit song “All I Do Is Win.”

(Side note: He collaborated on the jam with Ludacris who is scheduled to address the media on Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway prior to the NASCAR XFINITY Series Furious 7 300)

He should probably head down to Huntersville, North Carolina and blare out the tune at the Joe Gibbs Racing shop.

JGR has won eight of the last 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races with drivers Kyle Busch (4), Matt Kenseth (3) and Carl Edwards (1). Denny Hamlin hasn’t won since Martinsville in March, but has finished sixth, third, third and fifth in his last four races.

In its tune-up for the Chase at Richmond, all four JGR drivers placed in the top 11: Kenseth (first), Busch (second), Hamlin (sixth) and Edwards (11th). Also of note, Edwards will be making his 400th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start Sunday at Chicagoland.

When asked Saturday about potentially having all four of his drivers make the Championship 4 Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway, owner Joe Gibbs replied: “Obviously you’d love that. But that’s a dream. It’s hard for a dream to come true. I don’t think anybody here is realistically thinking about that as a possibility. I think there are so many good cars in there. We were just talking about the 4 car (Kevin Harvick), the 22 (Joey Logano), the 2 (Brad Keselowski). All those cars are capable of winning a championship, period.”

Jeff Gordon – NASCAR’s New Iron Man

When Jeff Gordon rises out of his car following Sunday’s MyAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, he can pull a Tony Stark and say, “I am Iron Man.”

That’s because Gordon will join Ricky Rudd as NASCAR’s “Iron Man” when he ties Rudd’s record of 788 consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts by beginning Sunday’s race. When Gordon competes at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 27, he will subsequently break Rudd’s mark.

While the consecutive starts record is quite the milestone, Gordon is also focused on trying to capture his fifth career NSCS championship. The 13th seed entering this season’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Gordon is trying to win his first title in the Chase era.

In 14 Chicagoland starts, Gordon has one win, seven top fives and nine top 10s. He finished second in the Chase opener at the 1.5-mile track last season.

In his 23 full-time NSCS seasons, Gordon has tallied 92 victories, which rank third in NSCS history behind Richard Petty and David Pearson.

Chasing At Last! Sprint Cup Series Veterans McMurray and Menard Ready for Playoff Debuts

After more than 10 years of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition for each, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard have finally made their first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

McMurray, one of NASCAR’s best big-race drivers, has come painstakingly close to previous Chase berths, but had always fallen just short. After being active in the NSCS for 14 years, the 39-year-old Chip Ganassi Racing driver finally made NASCAR’s playoffs. McMurray boasts seven wins in his career including the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 (both in 2010). He has also visited Victory Lane in the Sprint All-Star race (2014) and Rolex 24 (2015). He enters the Chase as the 12 seed.

Menard heads to the Chase for the first time as its 15 seed. The 2015 campaign marks his 12th season competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In 317 starts, he claims one win, 17 top fives and 51 top 10s. Menard’s lone win was a big one – the 2011 Brickyard 400.

Similar to last season with AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola, McMurray and Menard are the only two drivers making their Chase debuts. For an infographic on McMurray and Menard’s Chase debut, click here.

Spoiler Alert: Stewart and Larson Attempt To Block Advancing Spot From Chase Drivers

Any Chase-eligible driver who wins a race in a specific round automatically advances to the next segment of NASCAR’s playoffs.

Non-Chase drivers can nullify these automatic advancements by making their own visits to Victory Lane.

At Chicagoland, non-Chasers Tony Stewart and Kyle Larson are prime candidates to play spoiler.

Stewart holds the Chicagoland track record with three wins and also has three Coors Light Pole Awards there. His 105.0 driver rating is the third-best total at the 1.5-mile track.

Larson led 20 laps and finished third in his only career start at Chicagoland last season.

Chase Fest Set for Thursday in Chicago

As The Chase rapidly approaches, so too does the fan celebration that will help kick it off in Chicago – Chase Fest sponsored by Toyota. The free outdoor fan fest will feature all 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Challengers and culminate with a live concert by Grammy-nominated band, 3 Doors Down.

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES

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Joe Gibbs Racing Returns To Pull 2015 Sweep At Chicagoland

Joe Gibbs and the No. 54 Toyota team relished the spoils of Victory Lane thanks to the skills of Erik Jones back in June when the NASCAR XFINITY Series made its first stop at Chicagoland Speedway. This weekend, the JGR camp looks to sweep both NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Chicagoland Speedway in 2015 and has tapped Daniel Suarez, Matt Kenseth and the series’ all-time winningest driver Kyle Busch to accomplish the feat.

Joe Gibbs Racing is currently tied with Richard Childress Racing for the most series wins at Chicago with four victories each.

Kyle Busch will be in the No. 54 this weekend. He has made 11 starts at Chicago posting three wins (tied for the series most with Kevin Harvick), seven top fives and an average finish of 12.0.

Kenseth has made eight starts at Chicago posting three top fives, five top 10s and average finish of 10.8.

Suarez has made two starts at Chicago posting a best finish of seventh earlier this season.

Last season, JR Motorsports swept both races at Chicago in the first season the track had hosted more than one race in a year – Chase Elliott (June) and Kevin Harvick (September).

Consistent Chris Buescher Tough To Catch

For the 15th time in 25 starts, ‘Mr. Consistent’ Chris Buescher, posted a top-10 finish and sustained his points lead over second-place Chase Elliott (-21) and third-place Ty Dillon (-27).

Buescher has been the series standings leader for the last 16 races, dating back to May 17 at Iowa Speedway.

Buescher’s 2015 season has been nearly flawless. In 25 starts this season, he has posted two wins (Iowa-1, Dover-1), 11 top fives, 15 top 10s and an average finish of 8.3. He has zero DNFs and his worst finish of 2015 is 20th. Buescher has led 263 laps this season, 5.9% of his laps completed.

Chicagoland Speedway is a track Buescher has excelled at. In three starts at the 1.5-mile speedway, Buescher has posted one top five and two top 10s. His average finish at Chicago is an 8.3.

Chase Elliott Looks To Make It Back-To-Back Victories

JR Motorsports star Chase Elliott snapped a 39-race winless streak last weekend at Richmond International Raceway to claim his fourth career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory. The 19-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia native now sits second in the XFINITY Series standings and is primed to make it back-to-back wins and close the gap on standings leader Chris Buescher in Saturday’s Furious 7 300 (6 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Back in the winning saddle again, Elliott has posted one win (Richmond-2), 10 top fives, 20 top 10s and an average finish of 9.2 in 2015.

Elliott is no stranger to consecutive wins in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The 2014 series champ did it last season winning at Texas and then Darlington.

This weekend, Elliott will need to ride the momentum of last week to continue his push for the 2015 title. Elliott has made three starts at Chicago, posting one win (June, 2014), two top 10s and an average finish of 8.3.

Ty Dillon Still Amongst The Scramble For The Title

Despite dropping to third in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings this past weekend at Richmond — six points behind second-place Chase Elliott and 27 points back from standings leader Chris Buescher — Ty Dillon is still in the thick of the scramble for the title this season.

Dillon’s performance in 2015 has been solid. In 25 starts, he has posted seven top fives, 18 top 10s and an average finish of 9.0.

With eight races to go this season, any mistakes by the top three in points will be vastly exacerbated by the lack of time left in the season to recover in the standings. In the last eight races last season, Chase Elliott (7.6) had the best average finish, followed by Dillon (10.1) and Buescher (10.8).

Who Needs A Win Most? Winless Streaks To Watch

With Chase Elliott snapping a 39-race winless streak last weekend at Richmond International Raceway; it shined a light on the list of drivers dealing with a winless streak, begging the question, who needs a win the most among the championship contenders?

The first name that arises amongst the victory starved is Roush Fenway Racing’s Elliott Sadler. Sadler is currently fifth in points, having posted four top fives and 12 top 10s in 25 starts this season. His last win came at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2014 a total of 49 races ago. His best finish since his last win was a second-place showing in the 2015 season opener at Daytona. Sadler has made 12 starts at Chicago posting one win (2012), six top 10s and an average finish of 14.0.

The driver with the next-longest stretch since his last win is Richard Childress Racing’s Ty Dillon, with 39 races since his last win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014. Dillon is currently third in the series standings, having posted seven top fives, 18 top 10s and an average finish of 9.0. Dillon’s best finish since his last win was a third-place result posted four times: Kentucky (2014), Daytona-1, Atlanta and Mid-Ohio (2015).

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Graphics & Photos Courtesy of NASCAR

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