This week’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 (yes, that is the actual title of the race) is at Chicagoland Speedway and kicks off the 2016 Chase. This is a 1.5-mile race track that compares most to Las Vegas and Kansas (you’ll hear me mention both throughout this article). Expect all of the Chase drivers to run well here on Sunday, and one of them should win and lock himself into the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs.
Thanks to rain on Friday, Kyle Busch will start from the pole for this year’s TMNT 400 with Brad Keselowski alongside him on the front row. Click here for the full starting lineup. There was one practice on Friday followed by two sessions held on Saturday, and those speeds can be found here: Practice #1 — Practice #2 — Happy Hour. As usual, our in-depth notes will tell you more than just speeds, so check them out here: Practice #1 — Practice #2 — Happy Hour.
Final Top 25 Ranking For Chicagoland
1. Brad Keselowski – Starts 2nd – DraftKings Price: $10,100 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Apparently Penske Racing has saved their best stuff for The Chase (who hasn’t, though?) and that should have the rest of the garage a little worried considering Brad Keselowski and the #2 crew have already been to victory lane four times this year. Chicagoland Speedway has been one of the better tracks for Keselowski throughout his Sprint Cup career, as he has gone to victory lane twice in the five races here since getting into the #2 Ford and also hasn’t finished worse than 8th in that span. I consider Las Vegas as the track most similar to Chicagoland, and BK went to victory lane there back in March. This weekend, Keselowski will start 2nd thanks to qualifying getting rained out. In Practice #1 on Friday, he was 4th-fastest, and BK backed up that speed during Saturday’s practice sessions by posting the 6th-best ten-lap average in Practice #2 and the 9th-fastest lap in Happy Hour with the 6th-best ten-lap average. Vegas didn’t really like Keselowski coming into the weekend (he was a 10/1 favorite on Thursday) but he should be one of the favorites come race day. He was my #1 rated driver before practice and qualifying and I’m sticking with my guns this weekend: Brad Keselowski wins the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400.
2. Kevin Harvick – Starts 4th – DraftKings Price: $10,800 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
The momentum train kept chugging along for this #4 team at Richmond last weekend as Harvick posted his fourth straight top 5 finish and seventh result of 6th or better in the last eight Sprint Cup races overall. And who would be surprised if Harvick continues his hot streak in Sunday afternoon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400? Not me. Harvick sat on the pole in this race last year and had a solid top 5 car but had that run-in with Jimmie Johnson that caused a blown tire on the #4 Chevrolet and relegated Kevin to a 42nd-place result. Still, in three of the four races before that, Harvick did end up finishing inside the top 5, and he has a car good enough to once again accomplish that this weekend; he was 12th-fastest during Practice #1 on Friday, and then in Practice #2 on Saturday, the #4 Chevrolet ranked just 16th on the overall speed chart but 1st in ten-lap average, and then in Happy Hour Harvick was 22nd and 3rd on those two charts, respectively. Here at Chicagoland, “The Closer” does have two victories, but both came way back in his first two starts here in 2001 and 2002.
3. Martin Truex, Jr. – Starts 6th – DraftKings Price: $10,300 – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
The best team on the intermediate tracks this season has been this #78 crew, and I don’t expect that to change this Sunday at Chicagoland. The undecided factor that sticks out like a sore thumb is whether or not they will be able to finish the race where they should. After his win at Darlington and 3rd-place finish at Richmond, Truex now has back-to-back top 5 finishes in Sprint Cup action and that’s actually the first time he’s had back to back top 10s all season long, believe it or not (I didn’t at first). Here at Chicagoland, Truex has always ran pretty well but, as usual, comes up short with the finish: he’s never ended up better than 9th in ten career starts at this race track. Will this finally be the year that Truex breaks his little bad luck run in the Windy City? I think so. The #78 Toyota ranked 5th and 7th on the two practice charts on Saturday and was 11th and 3rd in ten-lap average during those sessions. Additionally, Kansas is a the 2nd-most-relatable track to Chicagoland (in my opinion) and the #78 Toyota should have won there earlier this year, but we all know how that turned out. At worst we’re looking at a top 15 finish out of Truex on Sunday but a top 5 (and possibly even a win) isn’t out of reach for this #78 team.