Driver Handicaps: Chicagoland

JOLIET, Ill. - This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway for Saturday's 400. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 267-lap event.

Who's HOT at Chicagoland
• Defending race winner Tony Stewart has two wins and five top fives.
• Kevin Harvick leads all drivers with an 8.0 average finish.
• Matt Kenseth leads all drivers with a 126.2 driver rating.
• Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have scored four top fives each. Gordon won in 2006.
• Chicagoland is Kyle Busch's best 1.5-mile speedway on the circuit based on his 10.0 average finish.

Keep an Eye on at Chicagoland
• Carl Edwards has the best average finish (3.7) in the three races with the new car on tracks exactly 1.5-miles in length.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race the same car that won at Michigan.
• Clint Bowyer has finished in the top 10 in his two Chicago starts.
• Chicagoland is Reed Sorenson best track on the circuit based on his 9.5 average finish.
• Ryan Newman is the only other driver not listed that has won at Chicagoland.
• Kasey Kahne and David Ragan have posted a 10.7 average finish in the three starts with the new car on tracks exactly 1.5-miles in length.
• Mark Martin has captured 49 top 10s on 1.5-mile tracks.
• Greg Biffle and Martin Truex Jr. were fast in the first practice session.

Track Performers
Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are tied for the lead with nine wins on tracks exactly 1.5-miles in length. Mark Martin and Tony Stewart are tied for second with seven wins each. Jeff Burton rounds out the top five in wins with six. Martin leads all drivers with 49 top-10 finishes, followed by Gordon with 46. Ryan Newman is the current pole leader on 1.5-mile tracks with 11. Carl Edwards has the best average finish (3.7) with the new car on 1.5-mile tracks, thanks to wins at Las Vegas and Texas.

Chicagoland Rookie Report
None of the Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates have made a Sprint Cup Series start at Chicagoland Speedway. Michael McDowell has visited victory lane once at the 1.5-mile speedway in a stock car when he won the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series event. Sam Hornish Jr. holds the best average finish (28.7) among the rookies on tracks exactly 1.5 miles in length in 2008. Rookie Standings

Qualifying Tidbits
Casey Mears won the pole in 2006 at Chicagoland Speedway, giving Chevrolet its fifth consecutive pole at the track. In 2005, Jimmie Johnson set the qualifying record in with a lap of 188.147 mph. Johnson's pole was the second-straight for Hendrick Motorsports after Jeff Gordon took the top spot the year prior. There has been a different pole winner each season since the inaugural race in 2001 when Todd Bodine won the pole in a Ford. Brian Vickers, who will make his first track start with Team Red Bull, has the best starting average among all drivers with three or more starts at 3.7. Kevin Harvick won from the furthest position (32nd) in 2002. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of Chicagoland Winners

Chicagoland Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2007)
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Matt Kenseth
1. Tony Stewart
1. Matt Kenseth - 4.0
2. Tony Stewart
2. Matt Kenseth
2. Kevin Harvick - 5.5
3. Kevin Harvick
3. Kyle Busch
3. Tony Stewart - 7.6
4. Jimmie Johnson
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Kyle Busch - 7.8
5. Kyle Busch
5. Jimmie Johnson
5. Brian Vickers - 9.1
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Matt Kenseth - 792
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 119
1. Matt Kenseth - 126.2
2. Kevin Harvick - 764
2. Kyle Busch - 112
2. Kevin Harvick - 114.6
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 716
3. Jeff Gordon - 108
3. Tony Stewart - 112.2
4. Tony Stewart - 709
3. Casey Mears - 108
4. Jimmie Johnson - 107.2
5. Casey Mears - 706
5. Matt Kenseth - 99
5. Kyle Busch - 105.0

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating : Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.

RacingOne Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Pete Pistone: Jeff Gordon
Rachael West: Jimmie Johnson
Kym Opalenik: Kyle Busch

Top 20 Driver Notes - Based on Current Standings

1. Kyle Busch: Chicagoland Speedway is Busch's best 1.5-mile speedway on the circuit based on his 10.0 average finish. His best finish came in 2006 when he led two laps en route to a third-place finish. This weekend he will be shooting for his second top 10 at Chicago when he makes his fourth start at the track. So far in his three starts with Joe Gibbs Racing on tracks exactly 1.5-miles in length, Busch has posted an average finish of 5.7. At the last 1.5-mile race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Busch led 61 laps en route to a third-place finish.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Prior to his 19th-place finish last season at Chicagoland Speedway, Earnhardt Jr. posted a fifth-place finish and a win. A late race pit stop decision to take on two tires proved to be the winning move for Junior in 2005. Earnhardt's only other top 10 in the seven starts came in the 2002 race when he led four times for 81 laps en route to a 10th-place finish. This weekend, Junior will return in the same car (chassis No. 488) that won on Michigan when he makes his Chicago debut with Hendrick Motorsports.

3. Jeff Burton: Burton scored his best performance at Chicagoland Speedway after he won the pole and finished second in his second track start with Richard Childress Racing in 2006. He went on to finish in the top 10 for the third time in seven starts last season with a seventh-place finish. With the exception of the 2004 race when he finished sixth, Burton has finished 18th or worse in his four other starts and did not finish the race in 2002. Burton will drive chassis No. 252 in Saturday night's race. This is the same car that finished 15th at Michigan last month.

4. Carl Edwards: Last year Edwards turned his Chicagoland Speedway record around by finishing third, which marked his first finish inside the top 20 in three starts there. This weekend Edwards will look to lower his overall Chicago average finish (20.7) even more when he climbs back behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. RK-540) that won at California Speedway in its maiden race.

5. Jimmie Johnson: Up until last season, Johnson had finished sixth or better in five straight races at Chicagoland Speedway, giving him an average finish of 3.6. But his finishing average fell to 9.2 in 2007 after a flat tire relegated him to a 37th-place result. Despite his strong record, Chicagoland is one of only seven tracks in which Johnson hasn’t been to Victory Lane. This weekend he will look for his first win at the 1.5-mile track by driving the same car (chassis No. 502) that finished sixth at Michigan.

6. Jeff Gordon: In 2006, Gordon scored his first win at Chicagoland Speedway from the 13th starting position. The previous year Gordon scored his first DNF at Chicagoland after Mike Bliss hit him from behind and the two crashed in Turn 2. Gordon finished 33rd, his first finish outside the top 20 in seven starts at the track. From 2002 - 2004 Gordon finished in the top five and led a combined 61 laps. In 2004, Gordon won his first pole at Chicagoland and led 14 laps en route to his second consecutive fourth-place finish. Last season Gordon posted his fifth top 10 with a ninth-place finish.

7. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin finished 14th in his first start at Chicagoland Speedway, in 2006, after a loose wheel put him a lap down early in the race. This weekend Hamlin will be racing the same car (chassis No. 196) that most recently finished third at Pocono.

8. Kasey Kahne: Chicagoland Speedway is Kahne's worst track on the circuit based on his 33.0 average finish. Kahne scored his best start (second) in his first attempt at the track, but finished 41st after a crash took him out of contention. This weekend will mark Kahne's fifth start with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports at Chicago.

9. Matt Kenseth: In 2006, Kenseth finished outside the top 15 for the first time at Chicagoland Speedway after he was spun out while leading the race with only four laps to go, then ran out of fuel to finish 22nd. His best finish, of second, came in the 2005 and 2007 event. In 2005, Kenseth dominated the race after he led 176 laps. The last three seasons saw Kenseth's first top 15 starts at Chicago. This weekend Kenseth will be racing one of his best cars (chassis No. RK-550) in the 2008 stable. This car has yet to finish outside the top 10 in three starts.

10. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer started 38th and raced his way to a ninth-place finish in his first career start at Chicagoland Speedway in 2006. He followed that finish up with another top 10 in 2007. This weekend he will debut a new car (chassis No. 253) in the 400. In 2002, Bowyer’s crew chief Gil Martin guided Kevin Harvick to the win in the 2002 400.

11. Greg Biffle: Biffle posted his best finish at Chicagoland Speedway in the last three races, finishing 11th, breaking a string of consecutive 20th-place finishes. In 2005, Biffle led for the first time at Chicago, holding the No. 16 up front for 34 laps. This weekend Biffle will look to crack the top 10 at Chicago when he gets behind the wheel of the same car that finished second in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

12. Tony Stewart: Stewart combined to lead 268 laps en route to his wins at Chicagoland Speedway in 2004 and 2007. His finishing average of 11.0 is coupled by a 33rd-place finish in his first start and a 32nd-place finish in 2006. This weekend Stewart will be back in the same car (chassis No. 209) that almost won at Lowe's Motor Speedway until a flat tire knocked him out of contention while leading with three laps to the finish.

13. Kevin Harvick: Harvick won the first two events at Chicagoland Speedway in 2001 and 2002. He won his second race from the 32nd position, which is the deepest any Chicagoland winner has started. Harvick, who finished fourth in the last two races at the Joliet track, is third in laps led at Chicago with 282. This weekend he will debut a new car (chassis No. 254) in the 400.

14. Martin Truex Jr: After being handed a 150-point penalty for a rule infraction at Daytona, Truex Jr. heads to Chicagoland Speedway. If he plans on making up some of those points he will need to break into the top 10 for the first time at the 1.5-mile Speedway. Truex Jr's best finish in two previous starts at Chicago was a 16th in 2006. However, last season Truex started second and led 12 laps up until he lost the engine in the No. 1 Chevrolet, relegating him to a 39th-place finish.

15. David Ragan: Ragan will be making his second career Sprint Cup Series start at Chicagoland Speedway. Last year he started 32nd and finished 25th. This year has been a different story for Ragan as he has posted a 10.7 average finish in the three races on tracks exactly 1.5-miles in length. Ragan, who also finished second in a 2005 ARCA race at Chicago, will debut a new car (chassis No. RK-602) in the 400.

16. Brian Vickers: Chicagoland Speedway is Vickers' best track on the circuit based on his 10.3 average finish. Vickers' three track starts all came with Hendrick Motorsports with his best finish (fourth) coming in 2005. After failing to qualify for the Chicago race last season, this weekend he will make his track debut with Red Bull Racing.

17. Ryan Newman: Newman posted two top-five finishes, including one win, in his first two starts at Chicagoland Speedway. In the next three races, Newman went on to post an average finish of 33.0. The 2006 race saw Newman's worst performance at the 1.5-mile speedway after he finished two laps down in 36th place. Newman, who has led in three races for a total of 163 laps at Chicago, will debut a new car (chassis No. PRS-577) in the 400. The car will also carry a new paint scheme that will promote the new movie, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

18. Kurt Busch: Last year Busch captured his third consecutive top-10 finish at Chicagoland Speedway. The only time Busch has not placed in the top 10 at Chicago came in the 2003 and 2004 when he finished 39th (his only DNF) and 35th, respectively. Busch, who led his first laps (2) at Chicago last season, will return in the same car (chassis No. PSC-550) that finished eighth at Pocono.

19. Bobby Labonte: Labonte's best finish at Chicagoland Speedway came in 2006 after finishing 12th in his first track start with Petty Enterprises. His only finishes outside the top 20 came when he posted DNFs for an engine problem in 2001 (finished 39th) and an accident in 2003 (finished 36th).

20. Travis Kvapil: Kvapil will be making his third career start at Chicagoland Speedway, and first with Yates Racing. His best finish was 37th in 2006 with PPI Motorsports.

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