The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to Chicagoland Speedway for the 27th race of the 2012 season, the GEICO 400. NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet’s Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and spoke to team contacts to predict how the field should finish on Sunday.
When: Sunday, September 16, 2012; 2:16 p.m./et.
Weather: Sunny with a high around 80; wind out of the WSW at 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is zero percent.
The Track: Chicagoland Speedway
Chicagoland is a 1.5-mile tri-oval. It has 18 degree banking on the corners with 11 degree banking on the front straightaway and five degree banking on the back straightaway. Roush Fenway is tough to beat on most 1.5 mile tracks, but the team has yet to win a race at Chicagoland. Look for Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, and the Hendrick Boys to be very strong on Sunday.
Key to Race: QUICK OUT OF THE PITS
As is the key with most 1.5 mile tracks tire-wear and pit stops will be a key to Sunday's race. Look for the drivers with the best location of their pit stall to have a big advantage in the race.
47 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. If the first practice is run, but qualifying is unable to take place, the starting lineup will be based on speeds from the car's fastest lap from the first practice, with top-35 cars in owner points no longer segregated from the non-top 35 cars. Previously, the top 35 cars lined up in front of all other eligible car owners.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Chicagoland is one of Harvick’s top tracks. He has two career wins and could easily make it three this weekend.
No.2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski finished fifth last year. He is a great choice this weekend and for the remainder of this season.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has been awesome at Chicagoland. In eight races at the track he has finished outside the top six just four times. He is a strong candidate to find victory lane on Sunday.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has six top five finishes in 11 career starts at Chicagoland. He is a great option.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Stewart won last year’s race and has finished no worse than ninth in nine of the last 10 Chicagoland races.
6 to 10
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has led 342 laps in the past seven races at Chicagoland. He has as good of a chance to win as anybody.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin is usually a good shoe on intermediate tracks and this weekend should be no different.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has cracked the top 10 in five of his six career starts at Chicagoland. He is a great second car on most fantasy teams.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has finished in the top 11 in four of the past seven starts at Chicagoland. He is a top 10 option again.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior won the 2005 race at Chicagoland and finished third last year. He should have no issue cracking the top 10 again.
11 to 20
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Busch has finished worse than 17th just twice in seven career starts (including a 2008 win) at Chicagoland. He will have no problem finishing inside the top 15 this weekend.
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman has three top six finishes, including a win, in 10 career starts at Joliet’s track. He will have a strong car again, but will finish just outside the top 10.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne's has cracked the top six in two of the past three races at Chicagoland. He will be a good choice this weekend.
No. 55 Mark Martin: Martin won the 2009 race at Chicagoland and finished ninth last year. He is a solid value pick.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards finished fourth during last year’s trip to Chicagoland. Look for the Midwesterner to be fast again on Sunday.
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burton has been excellent in four of the past six Chicagoland races. He is a fine choice to make the top 15.
No. 20 Joey Logano: Logano has improved every trip to Chicagoland. He will finish inside the top 20 once again.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has finished in the top 20 in all five of his starts at Chicagoland. He is an option in every league.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has been fast in all six of his career starts at Chicagoland. He is a decent pick.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard is averaging just a 27th place finish at Chicagoland. He should improve on that, but a top 20 finish isn’t likely.
21 to 30
No. 51 Kurt Busch: Busch has five top 10 finishes in 11 career starts at Chicagoland, but that was then this is now. He will do well to peddle his under-funded car to a top 20 finish this weekend.
No. 22 Sam Hornish Jr.: Hornish has averaged just a 33rd place finish at Chicagoland. This is a rare weekend we don’t like him as a fourth or fifth driver.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has struggled in four of the last five trips to Joliet. He is the definition of a “use-at-your-own-risk” driver.
No. 34 David Ragan: Ragan has averaged a 16th place finish at Chicagoland. He should finish about 10 spots below his average on Sunday.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has been wildly inconsistent throughout this year and his career. He isn’t a fantasy recommendation this weekend unless you are desperate.
No. 78 Regan Smith: Smith is always fan-favorite. Use him anytime you need a fifth driver.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola is making his first career start at Chicagoland. He will be just an average pick this weekend.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears will finish right around his 24th place career average at Chicagoland.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte: Labonte has finished in the top 21 in six of his 11 career starts at Chicagoland. He isn't a bad fifth driver in most fantasy leagues.
No. 21 Trevor Bayne: Bayne is always an interesting pick. He has all the talent in the world and if the Wood Brothers can hit with a setup a top 20 finish isn’t out of the question.
No. 10 Danica Patrick
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 83 Landon Cassill
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 33 Stephen Leicht
No. 95 Scott Speed
No. 37 J.J. Yeley
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 32 T.J. Bell
No. 49 Jason Leffler
No. 19 Mike Bliss
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 91 Reed Sorenson
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 23 Scott Riggs
No. 26 Josh Wise
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Jeff Gordon
1. Clint Bowyer
2. Mark Martin