JOLIET, Ill. – We don’t foresee the iconic police chase scene that tore up a mall in the “Blues Brothers” movie taking place this weekend. However, the track located where Joliet Jake and brother Elwood spent a little time will be filled with racing and chasing.
All three national NASCAR Series are in action at the 1.5-mile oval of Chicagoland Speedway. The NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series runs on Friday, the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Saturday and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday. That’s a full weekend of full-bore action.
Busch, Busch, Busch
Yep, you have to bring up Kyle Busch and the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team…again. They are the defending winners of this race and through the last six years, Busch has won three poles and one race.
His 399 laps led during that time frame is 69.9 percent of his career total laps led (573) at Chicago. He has six top-10 finishes in the last seven races. And, Busch has three Xfinity Series and five Gander Outdoor Truck Series wins at Chicago, too.
For his chief competition he only has to look across the JGR shop to the No. 19 of Martin Truex, Jr. After last week’s win at Sonoma, he is tied with Busch at four wins each. That is also the highest number of wins amongst all drivers.
Will it be another JGR show since they’ve won 10 of the 16 races run this year? Not if Kevin Harvick have anything to say about that stat.
He won the first two races held here and has the most top-five (10) and top-10 (11) finishes of all other drivers. His 101.1 driving rating is third best among drivers with more than five starts in Chicago.
He’s still winless on the season looking to put that No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford into Victory Lane…soon.
Brad Keselowski is one of only four multi-time winners at Chicagoland, joining Busch, Truex, and Harvick with that honor. He shows up with eight consecutive top-10 finishes there and his 9.2 average finish is best among active drivers with more than five starts.
NASCAR is Back on NBC
This weekend mark’s the TV coverage switch from Fox to NBC for the Cup and Xfinity Series. In the booth will be Rick Allen, drivers-turned-announcers Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt, Jr with crew-chief-turned-broadcaster Steve Letarte.
Race time is 3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN
We have a Big 3 in Xfinity
This season a ‘Big 3’ is starting to develop in the Xfinity Series with Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer have won 10 of the first 14 races. Bell has four, with Reddick and Custer earning three each. They aren’t just winning; they’re kicking some serious donkey.
Bell has led laps in all 14 races, Custer in 11 of the 14 and Reddick in 10 of the 14. But it doesn’t end there, the ‘Big 3’ have also combined to lead 1,619 of a possible 2,587 laps raced. That’s 62.5% (Bell with 758 laps led, Custer with 543 and Reddick has 318) by just three drivers over the rest of the field…THREE.
But, watch out…beep beep…here comes Joey Logano to deal with this weekend. The reigning Cup Series champion is making his first Xfinity start of the year. And, Chicagoland is a good choice for him and Team Penske.
In seven series starts here, he’s posted one pole (2012), two wins (2009 and 2013), four top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 5.9 during that stretch.
They race Saturday afternoon with coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Truckin’ in the Windy City
The NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series is back in action again. And, it appears Ross Chastain is quickly becoming a story to follow on – and off – the track.
After his Iowa post-race disqualification erased his checkered flag moment, he followed it up with a win at Gateway last week. The win doesn’t put him in the Playoffs because he declared his official bid for the championship points just four weeks ago. And, he needs to be in the top-20 to be eligible.
Currently, he’s in 26th trailing 20th by 38 markers. Keep an eye on him and the No. 45 Chevrolet team.
Defending champion Brett Moffit returns to the site where he earned one of his six victories. The only other previous Chicagoland race winner in the field is Johnny Sauter, who won in 2017. He’ll be a little hungry after sitting out last week’s event because NASCAR handed down a one-race suspension for his on-track actions at Iowa.
Keep an eye on him and Austin Hill when they get side-by-side…just in case.
Grant Enfinger is the current points leader with local favorite Stewart Friesen back up to second. Friesen is not only searching for his first win of the season; he’s looking for his first-series career win.
He’s tallied six top-five and seven top-10 finishes so far after having nine in all of last year. He finished runner-up at Texas (a 1.5-mile track like Chicagoland) and was third at Charlotte and Gateway.
They race on Friday night at 9 p.m. ET on FS1 TV.
- This what’s called the Summer Season of NASCAR, for obvious reasons as you look at a calendar. This is a time when pit crew and driver conditioning come into play with many races being run under high temps at many tracks. The pits can make, or break, a race.
- The Peacock Crew is looking to get back into the higher ratings after the last seven races of their 2018 season dipped below the 2017 rankings. The Dale Jr. factor can only carry you so far, fans are tuning in to watch “their driver,” too.
- My picks are – Kyle Larson for Cup, Reddick for Xfinity and yep, going there again – Friesen in Trucks.