Fuel and Tires

All about auto racing with Gazette staffer Dave von Falkenstein.

Fuel & Tires: Chase for NASCAR Sprint Cup begins in Chicago; local race results

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Dave von Falkenstein
September 17, 2015

With all three top NASCAR series at Chicagoland Raceway at Joliet this weekend, there is plenty of racing to get excited about. The first Chase for the Sprint Cup race will be Sunday with 16 drivers currently eligible for the title that will be determined over the next ten races.

There will be eliminations following the third, sixth and ninth races in the Chase in which the four drivers lowest in points will be eliminated from title contention.

So, who stands the best chance of taking the title in Florida on November 22? It's hard to say before we see even one Chase race, but let's see who is in the running:

—Jimmie Johnson, 2012 points, four wins in 2015

—Kyle Busch, 2012 points, four wins

—Matt Kenseth, 2012 points, four wins

—Joey Logano, 2009 points, three wins

—Kevin Harvick, 2006 points, two wins

—Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2006 points, two wins

—Kurt Busch, 2006 points, two wins

—Carl Edwards, 2006 points, two wins

—Brad Keselowski, 2003 points, one win

—Martin Truex Jr., 2003 points, one win

—Denny Hamlin, 2003 points, one win

—Jamie McMurray, 2000 points, no wins

—Ryan Newman, 2000 points, no wins

—Jeff Gordon, 2000 points, no wins

—Clint Bowyer, 2000 points, no wins

—Paul Menard, 2000 points, no wins

Simple logic would say that the title will likely go to one of the top five drivers in the list (Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Logano, Harvick) but nothing about NASCAR is really logical, is it?

On the other hand, there are six former champions in the Chase lineup. Four of those former champions have won the title since the Chase for the Cup debuted in 2004.

If I had to pick today, I would say that Harvick is going to bring the battle to the Gibbs Racing duo of Kyle Busch and Kenseth and come out victorious. Harvick has had his most consistent season ever (two wins, 22 top-ten finishes in 26 races) and I don't think his momentum can be slowed. Harvick also has two wins at Chicagoland Speedway, though he has not won there since 2002.

For a dark horse champion, Edwards (another Gibbs driver) has been coming on strong lately. He has one win and seven top-ten finishes in the last nine races and has finished second in the championship twice. He is certainly one to watch out for.

As a sentimental favorite, you have to hope Gordon can at least win a race or two in the last ten races of his illustrious Sprint Cup career. He just hasn't had it this season and though he did make the Chase, he will have a mountain to climb to take his sixth title and first since 2001.


—In the final night of racing at Madison International Raceway on Friday, Middleton's Trevor Chilson won the 15-lap 6Shooter feature. In other racing action, Gary Oscarson jumped the school bus through an RV and there was drifiting, motorcycle stunts, Monster Trucks and a demolition derby.

—There was plenty of action Saturday at Rockford Speedway with champions being crowned in five divisions. Machesney Park's Jake Gille won the Late Model title; Belvidere's Brett McCoy took his second-straight Sportsman title; Rockton's Zach Rodriguez won the Short Tracker title; South Beloit's Dennis Smith Jr. won the Roadrunner title and feature race; and Stillman Valley's Kyle McQuality was crowned the Roadrunner Challenge champion. As for the other feature race winners, Machesney Park's Alex Papini won the Late Model feature; South Beloit's Howie Ware won the Sportsman feature; and Machesney Park's Kelly Evink won the Short Trackers feature. This weekend is the 50th National Short Track Championships with a full schedule of racing Friday-Sunday. Tickets are $5-$25. For a full schedule and tickets, visit RockfordSpeedway.com.

—Jefferson Speedway also crowned its champions Saturday with Edgerton's Casey Johnson winning his third Late Model title while Jefferson's Luke Westenberg took the feature win. Whitewater's Jay Kalbus won his third Sportsman title as well as the feature; Beaver Dam's Seth Reamer won the International title and feature; Waterloo's Dustin Ward won the Hobby Stock title while Machesney Park's AJ Lloyd took the feature win; Aztalan's Bill Sweeney won the Road Warrior title with Jefferson's Chris Gottschalk taking the feature; and Madison's Jamie Kohn won the Bandits title while Milton's Brody Chilvers won the feature event. This weekend is the 35th Wisconsin State Championships with a full schedule of racing action. Tickets are $12 adults, $8 seniors age 65 and older and students ages 12-15 and $4 kids ages 8-11.

Dave von Falkenstein is a digital content coordinator for The Gazette and an auto racing fan. Follow him on Twitter at @achtungvon or email him at [email protected].

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