Back at it this week at Chicagoland after the week break then the road course at Sonoma last weekend. Wasn’t able to get a full preview in, but I did have some lineups that cashed thanks to Kevin Harvick and my sleeper of Matt DiBenedetto who scored a top 5 finish! Martin Truex Jr. proved he was money again in wine country and scored yet another win at the track and on the season.
This will be the first race of the season for the NBC Sports broadcasting team and it’s a track that if you’ll recall, produced one of the more exciting finishes in recent memory with the “slide job” showdown between Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch. As for this season, all but one race has been won by either Team Penske or Joe Gibbs Racing with that being Chase Elliott at Talladega. In fact Toyota has the last four wins at Chicagoland from Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. with back-to-back wins then Denny Hamlin back in 2015.
I broke down the numbers from the last five years at Chicagoland and it all comes up JGR & Penske again, so don’t expect a change this weekend with the new rules package. Hamlin owns the best average finish of the field over the last 5 years at 4.8 with a win and 5 top 10’s. Joey Logano also has ripped off 5 straight top 10’s at the mile-and-a-half and owns a 5.4 average finish, even though he has yet to win there. Logano won a few weeks back at Michigan and earlier this year at Vegas, he might be a smart bet this weekend.
Brad Keselowski also has 5 top 10’s over the last 5 years with a win back in 2014 prior to the four consecutive wins for the Toyota camp. Last week’s winner Martin Truex Jr. has ripped off three straight top 5’s that includes two wins and with the way that team is dialed in of late, it would be foolish to pick against them. Kyle Larson is sneaky good at Chicagoland with an average finish of 7.0 in his five career starts including a runner-up last year, the ability to use the high line has worked to his advantage over the years. This is one of the few tracks Jimmie Johnson has yet to win at in his illustrious career, but he does have 11 top 10’s in 17 tries and a rather impressive 9.65 average finish. Another Chevy to watch this weekend is Chase Elliott who had back-to-back top 5’s at the track before a 19th place result last year. The No. 9 team was running great last week before their engine expired, so they will be motivated this weekend to get back on track.
Camping World 400 Opening Odds:
-Kyle Busch 3/1
-Kevin Harvick 9/2
-Martin Truex Jr. 6/1
-Brad Keselowski & Joey Logano 8/1
-Chase Elliott & Kyle Larson 10/1
-Denny Hamlin & Clint Bowyer 18/1
-Ryan Blaney & Kurt Busch 20/1
-Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman & Aric Almirola 30/1
-Daniel Suarez 40/1
-William Byron 80/1
-Austin Dillon & Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 100/1
Camping World 400 DraftKings Picks:
Kevin Harvick ($11,200): I wasn’t planning to roll with the 4 car this weekend, but the numbers don’t lie. Harvick was the best car on track Saturday in averages for both practices and looks like the guy to beat. The car is handling well and he’ll have a great shot at that first win this season and third consecutive top 5 in Chicago.
Joey Logano ($10,100): The numbers above on Logano tell the tale, add to that his results this season on intermediate tracks and the 2 miles and the 22 should be up front in no time. Starting 19th makes this an easy decision.
Denny Hamlin ($8,500): Lock in the 11, all day. The numbers tell the story for his success at Chicagoland and his car is ready to race on Sunday at the front. Solid starting position in 9th, they should easily be a top 5 car. I’ll take him over teammates Truex & Busch this weekend, especially with the money you can save and use elsewhere.
Alex Bowman ($8,700): Bowman cooled off after three straight runner-up finishes, but looks primed to contend for another win. The 88 starts inside the top 10 and was the leader in 10-lap average for opening practice and was 3rd in final practice. Money!
Jimmie Johnson ($8,000): The Hendrick Motorsports group looks dialed in and ready to race. Johnson is right there with Bowman just with a better starting position. Johnson will roll off 4th and was 2nd in consecutive lap average in final practice. Will this be the day the 48 finally breaks through again?
Paul Menard ($7,300): Starts 25th and looking for 3 straight top-15 finishes at the track.
Daniel Suarez ($7,400): Starts 29th and was top 10 in consecutive lap average in both practices.
Chris Buescher ($6,800): Sneaky team all season, starts 28th. Should return value easily.
Daniel Hemric ($6,300): Risky with starting position of P3, but Top 5’s in last 3 NASCAR series races at the track in Xfinity & Truck Series.
Camping World 400 Winner Prediction:
Kevin Harvick: I narrowed it down to 3 guys based on all the numbers. Harvick, Hamlin & Johnson who all happen to be my 3 favorite drivers. My heart says Johnson, brain says Hamlin and gut says Harvick.
I’m going with my gut this weekend. Just based off the numbers and when I hear a practice interview with Harvick talking about minor details and testing out the low groove without a single complaint about his car or handling, I know that 4 car is a rocket.
Harvick will be looking for his first win at Chicagoland since 2002 when he won back-to-back including the inaugural one back in ’01.