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NASCAR National Series News & Notes – Chicagoland Speedway

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Camping World 400
The Place: Chicagoland Speedway
The Date: Sunday, June 30
The Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)
2018 Race Winner: Kyle Busch

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Camping World 300
The Place: Chicagoland Speedway
The Date: Saturday, June 29
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 3:00 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)
2018 Race Winner: Kyle Larson

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series
Next Race: Camping World 225
The Place: Chicagoland Speedway
The Date: Friday, June 28
The Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 9:00 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 225 miles (150 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 35),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 70), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 160)
2018 Race Winner: Brett Moffitt

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Joe Gibbs Racing’s teammate rivalry may heat up at Chicago

Recent history at Chicagoland Speedway has a distinctive similarity to the current competitive situation in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship standings. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch are the most recent Chicago winners – Truex earning back-to-back trophies in 2016-17 and Busch winning last year.

The two drivers come to the Camping World 400 (Sunday, June 30 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR radio) as the Monster Energy Series’ winningest drivers this season. Truex picked up his fourth victory Sunday in Sonoma to tie Busch in the win count.

Chicagoland Speedway, however, has long been one of Busch’s best tracks – and he’s performed best in the last few years. In addition to his 2018 win at the track, he won from the pole position in 2008 – the only driver in history to win from pole. He has earned an all-time high four pole positions in all.

In just 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.

Last year’s Monster Energy Series victory is among the most memorable in Busch’s career as he prevailed in a spirited last lap exchange with Kyle Larson. Larson used a “slide job” maneuver to get by Busch out of Turn 2 and then Busch caught back up to Larson and the two made contact as Busch got around Larson between Turns 3 and 4 en route to the checkered flag. The two shook hands after one of the more exciting finishes of the 2018 season.

That success all lines up well with his current season’s work. He has a series-best 15 top-10 finishes in 16 races, including top-five finishes in his last four races. He finished runner-up to Truex Sunday at Sonoma. He’s led laps in 12 races – double digit laps in nine of those. And he trails reigning series champion Joey Logano by a single point in the championship standings.

“Back when we first started racing there in the summer, it was a night race, so with a hot track now and the surface worn out more now, it certainly tends to play to my strengths and as we saw last year, we can put on a really good race with the heat, combined with the worn-out surface,’’ Busch said.

Its Truex time

Martin Truex Jr. has shown no signs of any transitional snafus moving from the Furniture Row Racing team, where he won the 2017 series championship, to the Joe Gibbs Racing operation this year where he just earned his fourth trophy in the season’s opening 16 races.

And he and his No. 19 JGR Toyota team arrive at Chicagoland Speedway with every reason to feel optimistic about carrying on the good vibes. Truex won back-to-back races in 2016-17 on the Chicago mile-and-a-half oval and finished fourth there last summer.

Truex has led laps in only three of the last seven races at the Chicago track – a career best 77 laps in his 2017 victory. Statistically Truex certainly seems to be getting better with age – scoring three of his five career top-five finishes in the last three races. He has 13 starts total.

Since his first win of 2019 – at Richmond on April 13 –  Truex has only gone more than two weeks without a trip to Victory Lane only one time. There were three weeks between his win at Charlotte and last week on the Sonoma, Calif. road course.

He’s led 493 laps in his four wins – that’s 95.1 percent of all his laps led (518) this season.

Interestingly though, in his 23 career victories, Truex has never won back-to-back races on the schedule.

“I think JGR, all of our cars are running good at places throughout the season but for us personally on the 19, the last couple of mile-and-a-halves we’ve really turned a corner,’’ Truex said. “Michigan was a great run for us, Charlotte obviously, winning there was big.

“We started out the year kind of searching a bit on the mile-and-a-halves and the bigger tracks with the 550-horsepower package. For us, I definitely feel like we’ve learned a lot the past month and half and really turned a corner there. That has given us a lot of confidence and we feel like Chicago will be a good race for us.’’

Harvick still waiting on a win

Kevin Harvick won the very first two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races ever held at Chicagoland Speedway and visiting Victory Lane again – for the first time in 17 years since – would be a timely dose of can-do for a team that had already hoisted five trophies by this time last season.

Harvick boasts the most top-five (10) and top-10 (11) finishes in the field this weekend and his 101.1 driving rating is third best among drivers with more than five starts in Chicago.

He’s finished top-five in four of the last six races and third both in 2017 and 2018. He’s led an impressive 471 laps at the track and led laps in four of the past five races.  He’s started in the top-five in three of the last four races, including from the pole position in 2015. And . …. Harvick has never suffered a DNF at Chicago.

This time last year Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing team had won seven of the opening 16 races – nearly half. This year SHR is still contending for its first win. Although the team has certainly been close. Harvick has 11 top-10 and five top-five finishes – five times finishing a season best fourth place.

And that work  – even without a win – has been good enough to place him third in the driver points standings. He trails leader Joey Logano, a two-time winner in 2019 by 70 points. But he’s got a four-point advantage over three-race winner Brad Keselowski in fourth place and a 70-edge over four-race winner Truex, who is in fifth place.

Logano continues his reign

Reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion Joey Logano has won half as many races (two) as Kyle Busch and last week’s Sonoma champion Martin Truex Jr., but he has been good enough to maintain his position atop the points standings – by a single point over four-time winner Busch.

Logano’s 23rd-place finish at Sonoma matched his worst finish of the season – at Atlanta in February – and snapped a three-race top-10 run. But he still maintains a one-point edge over four-race winner Kyle Busch atop the points standings.

Logano has only led laps in one of the last five races (163 of 203 laps in his Michigan win two weeks ago). The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has never won at Chicago before, but earned the pole position for the 2013 race and has top-10 finishes in six of the last seven races – including the last five consecutively. His best showing at Chicago is runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. in 2016.

Keselowski is a good bet at Chicago

Brad Keselowski is one of only four multi-time winners (also Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick) at this week’s Chicagoland Speedway venue – taking the trophies in 2012 and 2014. He shows up with eight consecutive top-10 finishes there and a pair of front row starts (outside pole in 2013 and 2016). His 9.2 average finish is best among active drivers with more than five starts. And he’s led laps in seven of his 10 starts.

It’s been five races since Keselowski earned his third win of 2019 – at Kansas. Two of this three victories (at Atlanta and Kansas) and one of his two runner-up finishes (at Las Vegas) have come on 1.5-mile tracks similar to Chicagoland.

Newman is a new man

Ryan Newman’s move to Roush-Fenway Racing this season has been a revitalization of his competitive spirit and talent can-do. He’s been making an especially impactful run at the Playoff 16 in recent weeks and shown no signs of letting up.

Newman’s sixth place showing at Sonoma, Calif. on Sunday was his second straight top-10 finish and fifth of the season. And it was good enough to move him into the 16th place – final cutoff position – in the series driver standings. He trails 15th place Kyle Larson by nine points and holds a one-point edge on 17th place Jimmie Johnson. It’s Newman’s first time back inside the top 16 since the first week of May.

The native Midwesterner, Newman, shows up in Chicago fresh off back-to-back top-10 finishes – eighth at Michigan and sixth place at Sonoma – his best showing at the California road course venue since a seventh place in 2008.

The driver of the No. 6 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford is one of only six active drivers with a previous win at this week’s Chicagoland Speedway venue. He won the pole position in his very first start (2002) and he won the race in his second start (2003). And he’s one of only two drivers (also Kyle Busch won race from pole in 2008) to win a pole position and also a race at the track.

Stats and Facts: 2019 has delivered for the fans

The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season has experienced record numbers statistically in key competitive categories.

The average number of lead changes per race (18.69) through the opening 16 races is the highest since 2015 (19.50). Nine of the 16 races have had a margin of victory less than one-second. And this season has also had the most green flag passes for the lead in the last five years. It’s up an impressive 57.8 percent from 2018. The numbers were up in 11 of 16 races so far and three times a new record has been set (Las Vegas, 47, Bristol, Ten., 47 and Kansas, 41). So far Daytona’s 110 passes for the lead is most.

There have been six race winners representing three organizations – Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports. All the winners have won multiple times, with the exception of Chase Elliott who won at Talladega, Ala.

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media rotations

Six drivers from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – Roush-Fenway Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Germain Racing’s Ty Dillon, JTG Daugherty Racing’s Chris Buescher, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola  and Richard Childress Racing’s teammates Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric, and will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Chicagoland Speedway in advance of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race the Camping World 400 (at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang)

Birthdate: October 2, 1987

Driver’s Age: 31

Hometown: Olive Branch, Mississippi

Hobbies: Golf, racquetball, basketball, Cross Fit, country music

Team: Roush Fenway Racing

Crew Chief: Brian Pattie

2019 Quick Highlights: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 31, of Olive Branch, Miss., would love for Chicago to represent a turning point in his season. The driver of the No. 17 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford has two top-10 finishes, including a best finish of fifth at Charlotte’s 600-miler. He’s led 50 laps and has six top-10 starts, but the two-time winner in 2017 is ranked 20th in the standings and hoping upcoming tracks such as Daytona in two weeks, may be the ideal venue to score his first win of the year. He has only one top-10 finish in six starts at Chicagoland Speedway – a fifth in his first race there in 2013. He was 16th last year.

Ty Dillon (No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1)

Birthdate: February 27, 1992

Driver’s Age: 27

Hometown: Lewisville, North Carolina

Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, fantasy sports, Carolina Panthers, spending time with family

Team: Germain Racing

Crew Chief: Matt Borland

2019 Quick Highlights: Ty Dillon, 27, of Lewisville, N.C. earned his best showing of the season in the first race of the season – a sixth place run in the Daytona 500. The driver of the Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet has led 13 laps on the season, including a best of seven laps at Talladega, last month. His last top-20 finish was at Talladega (17th). In three starts at Chicago, he has finishes of 27th, 28th and 28th.

Chris Buescher (No. 37 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1)

Birthdate: October 29, 1992

Driver’s Age: 26

Hometown: Prosper, Texas

Hobbies: Fishing, ATVs, motocross, movies, any fabrication work

Team: JTG Daugherty Racing

Crew Chief: Trent Owens

2019 Quick Highlights: Chris Buescher, 26, of Prosper, Texas, has earned two of his seasons’ three top-10 finishes in the last month. He scored back-to-back finishes of 10th-place at Kansas and sixth at Charlotte in May, leading 10 laps at Kansas. The driver of the No. 37 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet has finished 16th or better in the last five races. The 2016 Pocono winner has made three starts at Chicago posting finishes of 28th, 27th and 22nd.

Aric Almirola (No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang)

Birthdate: March 14, 1984

Driver’s Age: 35

Hometown: Tampa, Florida

Hobbies: Road and mountain biking, hiking, snow skiing

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Crew Chief: John Klausmeier

2019 Quick Highlights: Aric Almirola, 35, of Tampa, Fla., has picked up in 2019 exactly where he left off in 2018 – as a serious championship contender. The driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford has nine top-10 finishes through the opening 15 races, including two in the past three weeks. His best showing on the year is a fourth place at Phoenix. He’s started on the front row five times (a third of the season) – winning the pole position at Atlanta and starting second at Martinsville, Va., Talladega, Charlotte and Michigan. Almirola has one top-10 in seven Chicago starts – a 10th in 2015. Last year he started sixth, led 70 laps but finished 25th.

Austin Dillon (No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1)

Birthdate: April 27, 1990

Driver’s Age: 29

Hometown: Lewisville, North Carolina

Hobbies: Hunting, paintball, physical training, fantasy sports

Team: Richard Childress Racing

Crew Chief: Danny Stockman Jr.

2019 Quick Highlights: Austin Dillon, 29, of Lewisville, N.C., has shown plenty of promise in 2019 – scoring a pair of top-10 finishes in the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet, including a best of sixth place at Richmond. He won the pole position at Talladega but has crashed out in two of the last four races (at Charlotte and Pocono, Pa.) and is now ranked 22nd in the championship. Dillon has three top-20 finishes at this week’s Chicago venue, with a best finish of 14th in 2016. His best start was fifth place in 2015. Last year he suffered his first DNF at the track, finishing 37th with a wheel hub problem.

Daniel Hemric (No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1)

Birthdate: January 27, 1991

Driver’s Age: 28

Hometown: Kannapolis, North Carolina

Hobbies: Golf and snowboarding

Team: Richard Childress Racing

Crew Chief: Luke Lambert

2019 Quick Highlights: Daniel Hemric, 28, of Kannapolis, N.C., is starting to show the signs that he’s ready to start making some noise in his Sunoco rookie Cup season. He has four top-20 finishes in this last five races including a highly respectable 15th- place in his Sonoma, Calif. road course debut last weekend. His best finish of the year in the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet is fifth at Talladega. He must feel optimistic rolling into Chicago this week. He has two top-five finishes in the Xfinity Series at Chicago (in 2017, 2018) and was runner-up to Kyle Busch in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race on the track in 2016.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Xfinity’s ‘Big 3’ look to be unstoppable

This season’s NASCAR Xfinity Series ‘Big 3’ – Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer – look to be on another level compared to the rest of the competition.

For starters, 10 of the first 14 races this season have been won by the ‘Big 3’ including the last eight consecutive races – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell has four wins (Atlanta, Bristol, Dover and Iowa), Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick has three wins (Talladega, Charlotte and Michigan) and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer has three wins (California, Richmond and Pocono).

But it’s not that they are just winning – Bell, Custer and Reddick are dominating. Bell has led laps in all 14 races this season, 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 this season – that’s 62.5% (Bell with 758 laps led, Custer with 543 and Reddick has 318).

Looking to Chicago this weekend, Custer has performed the best at the 1.5-mile speedway amongst the three drivers. In two starts, Custer has grabbed one top five and two 10s. His average finish at Chicago is an impressive 5.0. Last week’s winner, Bell, has had the next best experience at Chicago, making his series track debut last season starting 11th and finishing 12th. Reddick on the other hand will be looking  to rebound from his series track debut at Chicago last season. The RCR driver was caught in a multi-car incident that relegated him to 30th-place finish after starting on the front row (second).

Former Chicago winner Joey Logano returns to the Xfinity Series

This weekend, Team Penske’s Joey Logano will be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series 2019 season debut in the Camping World 300 at Chicagoland Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

When Logano rejoins the fold, the competition takes notice as the Connecticut native is ranked seventh all-time on NASCAR Xfinity Series wins list with 30 victories; including two from Chicagoland Speedway (2009 and 2013).  This weekend at Chicago will mark Logano’s 175th series start. In his previous 174, he has put up 30 wins, 94 top fives, 142 top 10s and 35 poles (second-most poles all-time). Additionally, he has led 4,660 laps.

Logano will be piloting the No. 12 Team Penske Ford Mustang this weekend with crew chief Matt Swiderski calling the shots from the pit box. This will be the first time the duo has worked together.

Despite it being his first race of the season in the series and his first race working with Swiderski, expect Logano to challenge for the win. In seven series starts at Chicagoland Speedway, he has posted one pole (2012), two wins (2009 and 2013), four top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 5.9.

Illinois native Justin Allgaier has Chicago circled on the schedule

JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier from Riverton, Illinois, scored a career-best five wins last season, but 14 races into 2019 is still looking for his first victory. The 33-year-old Allgaier remains poised, and returning to his home track just might be the spark he needs to get him back to Victory Lane.

Currently ranked fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings – the highest ranked contender without a win – Allgaier has posted seven top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 11.1 this season.

His winning hopes should be high, Chicagoland Speedway has been good to Allgaier in the past. In 11 starts on the 1.5-mile track he has picked up two wins (2011, 2017), four top fives and eight top 10s.

Sunoco Rookie race heats up

Things have been looking up for JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson. Not only did the Las Vegas native pick up his third Sunoco Rookie of the Race award of the year at Iowa Speedway two weeks ago, but he also grabbed the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West win last weekend at Sonoma Raceway while the NASCAR Xfinity Series was off. Now the 20-year-old Gragson is third in the rookie standings and only nine points back from Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings leader Chase Briscoe and just two points behind second place John Hunter Nemechek.

Heading to Chicagoland Speedway this weekend with only nine points separating the top three in the rookie standings, the competition is starting to heat up. Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi driver Chase Briscoe holds the rookie standings lead with 470 points after posting six top fives and 11 top 10s this season. Right behind Briscoe is GMS Racing’s John Hunter Nemechek in second with 463 points this season. Nemechek has amassed two top fives and 10 top 10s in 14 starts this year.

Momentum is building for Gragson. In the last three races Gragson has closed a 19-point gap between himself and the rookie standings lead down to nine points heading into this weekend at Chicago.

Of the top three in the Sunoco rookie points only Briscoe has made a previous start at Chicagoland Speedway – last season he started 17th and finished ninth – Nemechek and Gragson will be making the series track debuts on Saturday.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Chicago Fun Fact: Despite Jimmie Johnson having 83 Cup wins and seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships, he only has one victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and it was at Chicagoland Speedway in the track’s inaugural Xfinity Series event on July 14, 2001.

Smith Grabs A Gear: JR Motorsport’s part-time driver and former NASCAR Next alum Zane Smith has continued to improve his finishes with each NASCAR Xfinity Series start he’s made this season. Though only running part-time this year, Smith has run five races in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, putting together one top five and three top 10s; including his career-best finish of fifth at Iowa. Smith is scheduled to run eight races this season, with five in the books and three left to go including this weekend’s Camping World 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. It will be his series track debut at Chicago.

Like Father, Like Son: For just sixth time in their NASCAR Xfinity Series career’s Joe Nemechek and his son John Hunter Nemechek will be competing in the same series race. John Hunter runs full-time this season in the Xfinity Series for GMS Racing and Joe will be making just his second series start of the season. The first Xfinity race the two competed in was last season at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 14, 2018); John Hunter bested his father Joe finishing 13th to his 19th. Earlier this season the two both raced at Charlotte in the Xfinity Series, all five previous races the two have battled it out John Hunter has prevailed. This will be the first time the duo has raced together at Chicagoland Speedway.

JRM Taps Regan Smith: JR Motorsports will have Regan Smith back behind the wheel at two upcoming NASCAR Xfinity Series road course races – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Aug. 10) and Road America (Aug. 24). It will be the first time in two years Smith will be back in the series.

“I can’t tell you how pumped I am for this,” Smith said. “Dale, Kelley and everyone at JRM have been like family to me, so in a way, it feels like I’m coming home.”

Smith has previously made 102 starts for JR Motorsports in his Xfinity career, posting six wins (including Mid-Ohio in 2015) and 27 top fives.

Chastain & Kaulig Racing Reunite: One driver certainly making headlines this season is former Florida watermelon farmer and current NASCAR driver, Ross Chastain, who will be back in the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.  Chastain will be pulling triple duty this weekend running in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race Friday, June 28, again on Saturday, June 29, in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race and then finally in the Monster Energy Series race on Sunday, June 30. Chastain has made 13 series start this season 11 with JD Motorsports and two with Kaulig Racing (Daytona and Talladega); his average finish this season is 16.2.

XCI Racing & Earnhardt Return: XCI Racing and Jeffrey Earnhardt return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. XCI Racing will looking to make the team’s second series start – ever. The organization made its series debut with Earnhardt piloting the No. 81 Toyota at Texas Motor Speedway; he started 14th and finished inside the top-10 (eighth).  In total Earnhardt has made six start this season – the other five were with Joe Gibbs Racing – posting one top five, three top 10s and average finish of 13.3.

NASCAR In Illinois: In total there have been 89 NASCAR national series races held in the state of Illinois – 20 Monster Energy Series races, 38 Xfinity Series races and 31 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series races.  The 89 total NASCAR national series races were held on five different tracks – 51 at Chicagoland Speedway (Joliet),  34 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Madison), two at Chicago Motor Speedway (Cicero), one at Santa Fe Speedway (Willow Springs) and one at Soldier Field (Chicago). The very first NASCAR national series race held in the state of Illinois was a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Santa Fe Speedway on July 10, 1954, and the event was won by Dick Rathman in a Hudson. The first Xfinity Series race was held in 1997 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

Chicago Xfinity Record Holders: In 23 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Chicago, Kyle Busch and Brian Scott lead the series in poles with three each. Kyle Busch also leads the Xfinity Series in wins at Chicago with four and top fives with eight. Recently retired veteran Elliott Sadler leads the series in top-10 finishes at Chicago with 10. Kyle Busch also leads the series in laps led at Chicago with 1,039. The youngest series pole winner at Chicago is Erik Jones (09/16/2017 – 21 years, 3 months, 17 days), and the oldest series pole winner at Chicago is Todd Bodine Todd Bodine (07/13/2002 – 38 years, 4 months, 16 days). The youngest series race winner is Chase Elliott  (07/19/2014 – 18 years, 7 months, 21 days) and the oldest series race winner at Chicago is Kevin Harvick (09/13/2014 – 38 years, 9 months, 5 days). The series qualifying record at Chicago is held by Ryan Newman with a speed of 186.438 mph (07/09/2005). The series race record belongs to Brad Keselowski with an average speed of 148.637 mph (09/17/2011).

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media breakouts

This weekend’s two media breakout sessions will have four NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers each participating at Chicagoland Speedway prior to this Saturday’s Camping World 300 at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

The first media session (Friday, June 28 at 1:45 p.m.) will include JR Motorsport’s Justin Allgaier, Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi’s Chase Briscoe, Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley and JD Motorsport’s Stephen Leicht. The second media session (Friday, June 28 at 2 p.m.) will include Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Christopher Bell and Brandon Jones, RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg and XCI Racing’s Jeffrey Earnhardt.

Rotation 1:

Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: June 6, 1986

Driver’s Age: 33

Hometown: Riverton, Illinois

Hobbies: R/C cars, wakeboarding, graphic design, dirt racing

Team: JR Motorsports

Crew Chief: Jason Burdett

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he won the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season championship and made the Playoffs for the third consecutive season after posting a career-high five wins on the season.
  • In 2016 and 2017, made the Championship 4 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs.
  • In 2011, 2016 and 2017, scored career-best third-place finish in NASCAR Xfinity Series standings.
  • Won first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race in 2010, at Bristol in March. Currently has 10 career Xfinity wins.
  • Won 2009 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity driver points standings (highest ranked driver without a win), 122 points back from the series standings leader Tyler Reddick and 36 points back from third place Cole Custer.
  • In 14 starts this season he has posted seven top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 11.1.

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • Has made 11 series starts at Chicago posting two wins (2009, 2017), four top fives and eight top 10s.
  • Average start, 13.0 and his average finish, 7.5.

Chase Briscoe (No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi Ford Mustang)

Birthdate: December 15, 1994

Driver’s Age: 24

Hometown: Mitchell, Indiana

Hobbies: Spending time with family, online racing, watching sports

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi

Crew Chief: Richard Boswell

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Made NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in 2018 at Atlanta.
  • Ran 17 Xfinity races last season for Roush Fenway Racing (12) and Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi (five) and won the inaugural race at the Charlotte Road Course.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently fifth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, 127 points back from the series standings lead and only five points behind fourth place Justin Allgaier.
  • In 14 starts this season he has posted six top fives, 11 top 10s and an average finish of 7.6.
  • Also, leads the 2019 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • Made his series track debut at Chicagoland Speedway last season; he started 17th and finished ninth.

Justin Haley (No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: April 28, 1999

Driver’s Age: 20

Hometown: Winamac, Indiana

Hobbies: Muscle car restoration, sports car racing, surfing, fishing and hunting, triathlons,

mountain biking, fitness, graphics & design, anything competitive

Team: Kaulig Racing

Crew Chief: Nick Harrison

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Signed with Kaulig Racing in the off season to run his first full season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2019.
  • Posted series career-best finish of fifth – this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
  • Made NASCAR Xfinity Series career debut last season – making three starts for GMS Racing posting a best finish of 12th at Iowa Speedway.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently 10th in the NASCAR Xfinity driver championship standings, 225 points back from the series standings leader Tyler Reddick, but only 15 points behind ninth place Michael Annett.
  • In 14 starts this season, he has one top five, 10 top 10s and an average finish of 10.1.
  • Currently fourth in Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, 46 points back from Chase Briscoe in the rookie standings lead.

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • This weekend will be his series track debut at Chicagoland Speedway.

Stephen Leicht (No. 01 JD Motorsports with Gary Keller Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: January 9, 1987

Driver’s Age: 32

Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina

Team: JD Motorsports with Greg Keller

Crew Chief: Mark Setzer

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Has made 113 series starts over 10 seasons but has only run one full-time season; in 2012 with Yates Racing he finished seventh in championship standings.
  • In 113 starts he has posted one win (Kentucky 2012), three top fives and 16 top 10s.
  • Made NASCAR Xfinity Series career debut in 2005 at Memphis Motorsports Park driving for Yates Racing.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently 21st in the NASCAR Xfinity driver standings, 477 points back from the series standings leader Tyler Reddick.
  • In 14 starts this season, he has three top-20 finishes and an average finish of 24.9.

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • Has made two series starts at Chicagoland Speedway posting a best finish of 10th back in 2007.
  • Average start, 23.0 and his average finish, 25.5.

Rotation 2:

Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry)

Birthdate: December 16, 1994

Driver’s Age: 24

Hometown: Norman, Oklahoma

Hobbies: Dirt track racing, iRacing, golf

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Crew Chief: Jason Ratcliff

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he set the rookie single season Xfinity Series wins record with seven victories; the previous record of five wins was held by three drivers – Greg Biffle (2001), Kyle Busch (2004) and Carl Edwards (2005).
  • Made the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs in rookie season (2018), and advanced to the Championship 4; ultimately finishing fourth in the championship standings.
  • Has 12 career NASCAR Xfinity Series wins in just 55 starts; including four this season (Atlanta, Bristol, Dover and Iowa).
  • He is tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt for the second-most wins in a driver’s first 54 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts with 12 each; second only to NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip’s 13 wins in that same time frame.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently second in the NASCAR Xfinity driver points standings, 51 points back from series standings leader Tyler Reddick.
  • In 14 starts this season, he has posted three poles (ISM Raceway, Texas, Charlotte), four wins (Atlanta, Bristol, Dover and Iowa), eight top fives, nine top 10s and an average finish of 9.1.

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • Made his series track debut at Chicago last season; he started 11th and finished 12th.

Brandon Jones (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry)

Birthdate: February 18, 1997

Driver’s Age: 22

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Hobbies: Woodworking, antique car restoration, metal fabrication, farming

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Crew Chief: Jeff Meendering

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he tallied a career-best finish of second at Talladega and reached the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs for the second time, finishing a career-best ninth in the standings.
  • In 2017, he captured his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series pole (Daytona-1).
  • In 2016, he made the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs in his rookie season; ultimately finishing a then career-best 10th in the standings.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently 12th in the NASCAR Xfinity driver championship standings (the final transfer spot to the Playoffs), 267 points back from the series standings lead.
  • In 14 starts this season, he has produced two top fives, seven top 10s and an average finish of 15.6.

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • Has made three series starts at Chicagoland Speedway, posting one top 10.
  • Average start, 20.3 and his average finish, 11.0.
  • Finished 11th in this race last season.

Ryan Sieg (No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: June 20, 1987

Driver’s Age: 31

Hometown: Tucker, Georgia

Team: RSS Racing

Crew Chief: Shane Wilson

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Has competed in 183 NASCAR Xfinity Series, running full-time since 2014.
  • In 2018, he posted two top 10s and finished 16th in the series championship standings.
  • In 2016, he finished a career-best ninth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings and earned a spot in the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs.
  • In 2013, Sieg made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut with Jeremy Clement Racing at ISM Raceway.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently 11th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, 262 point back from the series standings lead and just five points ahead of 12th place Brandon Jones – both drivers are near the Playoff cutoff line.
  • In 14 series starts this season he has posted two top fives, six top 10s (both career-highs) and an average finish of 12.6.

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • Has made seven series starts at Chicago posting two top-15 and five top-20 finishes.
  • Average start, 19.9 and his average finish, 18.3.
  • Finished 20th in this race last season.

Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 81 XCI Racing Toyota Supra)

Birthdate: June 22, 1989

Driver’s Age: 30

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

Hobbies: Hunting and fishing

Team: XCI Racing

Crew Chief: Matthew Lucas

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Has made 72 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts over seven seasons but has only run one full-time season in 2014, driving for JD Motorsports.
  • Finished a career-best 18th in the series championship standings in 2014.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Is running a part-time schedule this season driving for XCI Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing.
  • In six starts this season he has posted one top five, three top 10s and an average finish of 13.3.

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • Has made two series starts at Chicago posting a best finish of 24th in 2014.
  • Average start, 32.0 and his average finish, 27.0.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

The “Melon Man” meets the challenge

When Ross Chastain made the switch to declare for NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points prior to the Texas race in June, he knew he had to do two things in order to qualify for the Playoffs – win a race and work his way into the top 20 in points.

At Iowa, he thought he had checked off the first box, but a post-race inspection failure led to a disqualification and it was back to the drawing board.

But the driver of the No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet found redemption the next weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, using a combination of clever pit strategy to gain track position and gutsy driving to hold off Christian Eckes for the win that held up through post-race inspection.

Now the 26-year-old hailing from a watermelon farming family out of Alva, Florida, needs to maintain the level of consistency that he has shown all season in order to overcome the 38 points separating him from the top 20. So far in 2019, Chastain has recorded a top 10 in every race except Iowa, where he was relegated to a last-place finish after the disqualification.

Including Iowa, he has an average finish this year of 8.5. Tossing that result out, he has an average finish of 6.2 in the other 10 races.

And he’s heading to a track that should give him confidence. Chastain earned his first career Gander Trucks victory earlier this year at Kansas Speedway, a 1.5-mile sister track to this weekend’s Chicagoland Speedway.

Chastain can make up some ground on the top 20 this weekend as neither Cory Roper (19th with 127 points) nor Josh Reaume (20th with 126 points) are on the entry list as of Wednesday afternoon. Natalie Decker in 21st with 125 points is entered in the race.

Moffitt returns to defend Chicagoland win

2018 was a banner year for Brett Moffitt consisting of six wins, including at this weekend’s venue of Chicagoland Speedway, and a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship.

Last year’s edition of the Windy City race was Moffitt’s third win of the season and sixth top five. So far this year, he has one win (Iowa Speedway) and has already amassed six top fives through the first 11 races.

Moffitt’s win at Chicagoland last year marked his first visit to the speedway. Overall at 1.5-mile tracks, Moffitt has made 21 starts and tallied three (out of his eight career total) Gander Trucks wins. He has eight top-five and 10 top-10 finishes at that distance.

The only other previous Chicagoland race winner in the field is Johnny Sauter, who won the 2017 race. Kyle Busch is the only driver who has repeated as a winner in the Gander Trucks at Chicago – and he has five wins (2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016).

Enfinger, ThorSport still on top

Although he has yet to visit Victory Lane in 2019, ThorSport Racing driver Grant Enfinger has been at the top of the points standings for the majority of the season. And that could pay off handsomely for him come Playoff time, as the regular season champion nets 15 Playoff points for use in the postseason.

Enfinger is joined in the top four in the points standings by teammates Matt Crafton (third) and Ben Rhodes (fourth). The fourth in the ThorSport stable, Johnny Sauter, fell to 10th in the standings after missing last weekend’s race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway due to suspension stemming from an on-track incident at Iowa Speedway.

Sauter, however, remains Playoff eligible and already has a win on the season…therefore the entire Sandusky, Ohio-based quartet of trucks would be eligible for the postseason were it to start now.

The remainder of the top five consists of Stewart Friesen in second and Brett Moffitt in fifth.

Friesen is not only searching for his first win of the season…he’s pursuing his first career Gander Trucks win. But he’s having a solid year and one has to think the first win isn’t far off.

He’s tallied six top-five and seven top-10 finishes so far this season…and he had nine top fives 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.

Gander Trucks Playoff picture

The Playoff picture for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series is starting to come into focus.

Locked in on wins, and currently sitting within the top 20 in points, are Brett Moffitt, Austin Hill and Johnny Sauter.

Ross Chastain is in the unusual position of having secured a win, but due to not declaring for points in the Gander Trucks until just before the ninth race of the season, he’s still outside the top 20 in points. And of note, only one of his two wins counted for Playoff eligibility. His Kansas win was before he declared for series points, while his win in St. Louis does meet the Playoff eligibility threshold.

Assuming Chastain is able to overcome the 38-point deficit he faces to climb into the top 20, that leaves four additional spots open for Playoff contenders.

As it stands now, those four spots would go to Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen, Matt Crafton and Ben Rhodes. That would place all four ThorSport Racing trucks into the post-season and would shut Kyle Busch Motorsports drivers out of Playoff contention.

If Chastain is unable to climb into the top 20, assuming the points remain the same and there are no other new winners, Harrison Burton would climb into that eighth and final Playoff spot.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Etc.

Chicago native Camden Murphy racing for NEMCO Motorsports: It’s slightly smaller than the Monster Jam truck than Camden Murphy frequently drives, and it doesn’t do as many tricks, but the Chicago-area native will be entered in the No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet this weekend. This will mark Murphy’s third race of the season (Charlotte, Gateway) in the truck. That truck did win the 2015 Chicagoland race with John Hunter Nemechek behind the wheel – and it was the young driver’s first career Gander Trucks win.

Sunoco Rookie points update: Harrison Burton holds a 31-point lead over Sheldon Creed in the Gander Trucks Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. The driver of the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota also sits eighth in the overall points standings – but is teetering right on the edge of the Playoff cutoff. If Ross Chastain puts together enough points to jump into the top 20, then Burton would be out of postseason contention if the standings stay as they are. Both Burton and Creed will be making their Chicagoland Speedway series debuts this weekend.

Three’s company for Chastain this weekend: Ross Chastain doesn’t know what it means to rest. The Florida native is entered to compete in all three distances of Camping World-entitled races this weekend – Friday’s Camping World 225 of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series, the Camping World 300 in the Xfinity Series on Saturday, and the Camping World 400 with the Monster Energy Series on Sunday. In total, Chastain has competed in 39 races across the three NASCAR national series in 2019.

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media breakouts  

Six drivers from the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series – Niece Motorsports driver Ross Chastain, GMS Racing driver Brett Moffitt, Halmar Friesen Racing driver Stewart Friesen, Kyle Bush Motorsports driver Harrison Burton, ThorSport Racing driver Matt Crafton and Young’s Motorsports driver Tyler Dippel – will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Chicagoland Speedway. These six drivers are preparing for the Camping World 225 on Friday, June 28, at 9:00 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Ross Chastain (No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: Dec. 4, 1992

Driver’s Age: 26

Hometown: Alva, Fla.

Hobbies: Farming Watermelons

Team: Niece Motorsports

Crew Chief: Phil Gould

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2019, he won his first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway
  • In 2013, he won his first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series poles at Iowa Speedway and ISM Raceway.
  • In 2011, he made his NASCAR national series debut in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Was last week’s race winner at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
  • Won his first career Gander Trucks race at Kansas Speedway in May
  • In 11 starts this season he has two wins, four top fives, 10 top 10s and has an average finish of 8.5.
  • He has led 228 laps this season.

Chicagoland Performance:

  • He has made two series starts at Chicagoland (2012, 2018), with an average start of 18.0 and average finish of 19.5
  • He finished 26th in this event last season.

Brett Moffitt (No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: August 7, 1992

Driver’s Age: 26

Hometown: Grimes, Iowa

Team: GMS Racing

Crew Chief: Jerry Baxter

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Last season, Moffitt drove Hattori Racing Enterprise’s No. 16 Toyota to six wins, leading the way for the first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship for both Moffitt and HRE.
  • Won his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race in 2016, taking home the checkers at Michigan for Red Horse Racing.
  • Made the most of his six NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts in 2016, with three top-three finishes and four top 10s.
  • In 2013, entered the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series scene with a pair of starts (Kentucky and Michigan).

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Won the NASCAR Ganders Outdoors series race at Iowa two weeks ago.
  • Currently fifth in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points.
  • In 11 starts this season he has posted one win (Iowa), six top fives and seven top 10s with an average finish of 9.1.
  • Has led 125 laps this season.

Chicagoland Performance:

  • He is the defending race winner in his only start at the track in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, earning the victory after starting sixth in 2018

Stewart Friesen (No. 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: July 25, 1983

Driver’s Age: 35

Hometown: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

Team: Halmar Friesen Racing

Crew Chief: Trip Bruce II

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • 2019 marks Friesen’s second full-time season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
  • In 2018, he competed in all 23 races, qualifying for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs for the first time; ultimately finished the season seventh in points.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently second in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship standings, trailing championship leader Grant Enfinger by 54 points
  • In 11 starts this season he has posted six top-five finishes and seven top-10 finishes.
  • He’s earned one pole award and has led 146 laps

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • Made his Gander Truck track debut at Chicago last season; he started fifth and finished 19th.

Harrison Burton (No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra)

Birthdate: October 9, 2000

Driver’s Age: 18

Hometown: Huntersville, North Carolina

Team: Kyle Busch Motorsports

Crew Chief: Mike Hillman Jr.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • 2019 marks Burton’s first full-time season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series.
  • In 2018, he competed in eight races for Kyle Busch Motorsports and recorded his first pole award at Iowa and tallied a total of three top-five and six top-10 finishes overall.
  • He raced in six races for KBM in 2017, recording one top-five and one top-10 finish.
  • He made his Truck Series debut in 2016 at Martinsville, finishing 22nd.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Burton is currently sixth in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points standings and leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.
  • In 11 starts, Burton has four top-five finishes and six top-10s.

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • This is Burton’s first start at Chicagoland Speedway

Matt Crafton (No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford)

Birthdate: July 11, 1976

Driver’s Age: 42

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

Team: ThorSport Racing

Crew Chief: Carl Joiner Jr.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Crafton is the 2013 and 2014 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion – the only champion to win back-to-back titles in series history.
  • In 2016, he won a career-high six races.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently third in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points standings.
  • Crafton has six top-five finishes and 10 top-10 finishes in 11 starts this season, along with two pole awards.

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • In 10 career starts at Chicagoland, Crafton has a best finish of second-place in 2014. He started from the pole in his first start at the track in 2009.
  • He has an average start of 8.3 and average finish of 10.6 at Chicagoland.
  • In last year’s race, he started eighth and finished 11th.

Tyler Dippel (No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: April 5, 2000

Driver’s Age: 19

Hometown: Wallkill, New York

Team: Young’s Motorsports

Crew Chief: Chad Kendrick

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • 2019 marks Dippel’s first full-time season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series.
  • In 2018, he competed in five races and recorded his best finish in his series debut at Eldora, starting and finishing in the 13th position.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Dippel is currently 11th in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points standings with one top-10 finish in 11 starts
  • His average starting position is 18.5 and average finishing position is 17.3
  • Dippel earned his best finish of the season – eighth place – in the March race at Texas Motor Speedway

Chicagoland Speedway Performance:

  • This is Dippel’s first start at Chicagoland Speedway.

— NASCAR —