Before the Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs begin Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, the 16 drivers eligible for the championship met with the media Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. From here on in, a win for any of the playoff contenders will see them advance straight to the next round, but that won't stop any non-playoff drivers from stealing a win if they get the opportunity. "All of their marquee programming, they're going to be touting 'NASCAR returns to NBC at Chicagoland Speedway.' That's huge for us, so that promotional platform combined with the fact that we're listening to our fans and moving back to a much less crowded time of the year is great". Kyle Busch leads all NXS competitors with three career poles on the 1.5 mile tri-oval. Stages one and two will comprise of 80 laps, with the final stage lasting for 107 laps. This has got to be the toughest championship in sports to win, without a question, with the eliminations, with one race for the championship at the end especially.
Many of the Furniture Row Racing driver's peers have pointed to the No. 78 as the title favorite. He's taken victory on nearly every kind of race track that the NASCAR Cup Series visits and with Chicagoland being a Toyota hot-spot in the last few years, there's every chance he'll be at the front again. He has finished outside the top 5 in four of his last six races. We've won races. That's been no shocker.
My next pick for the race win is a Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
Not only does moving to July give the race a chance to attract more local eyeballs, it doesn't take any national exposure from Chicagoland Speedway.
The first was for the caution on lap 86: NASCAR called for a yellow flag when Matt Kenseth locked up the brakes, creating a puff of smoke. He has a 20-point advantage over second place Kyle Larson. Of those still in doubt to get into the playoffs, Blake Koch, Michael Annett and Brendan Gaughan now hold the final positions by virtue of points. Since then, however, he's had a lackluster list of results.
In eight starts at Chicagoland, Gaughan has one top-five finish, three top-10 performances and a 12.9 average finish.
Now holding the 12th - and final - berth to the postseason, Gaughan sits 25 points above Dakoda Armstrong on the cutoff line.
Hamlin has actually been one of the most consistent performers throughout his Cup series career. "It's frustrating, but show me (that you'll do better.) We'll see what happens". John Hunter Nemechek is the only driver in the field who has won at Chicagoland.
What to Watch for: Sunday's Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway marks the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs opener.
Truex would clinch a spot with a win Friday, or a finish that makes up the seven-point deficit. The last two stick out most. Harvick was involved in an incident with Jimmie Johnson in 2015 that forced his race retirement and also led to a post-race altercation between the pair.
Suarez finished fourth in this race previous year and sixth in 2015. Elliott Sadler captured the regular season championship at Richmond, but is still searching for his first win of 2017.
Chicagoland could be the track where he gets that win.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series has held 21 races at Chicagoland Speedway with 14 different pole winners.
Truex has piloted the dominant vehicle in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series all season.
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